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Game Preview: Browns-Broncos

Posted Dec 22, 2012

The Cleveland Browns face quarterback Peyton Manning, linebacker Von Miller, and the Denver Broncos Sunday at Sports Authority Field at Mile High.

The Cleveland Browns will look to end one streak and start another when the travel to the Mile High City for a matchup against quarterback Peyton Manning, linebacker Von Miller, and the defending AFC West Division-champion Broncos Sunday at Sports Authority Field at Mile High.

After having their three-game winning streak snapped by the Washington Redskins last Sunday, the Browns will look to finish the season with back-to-back wins on the road. The Browns travel to Pittsburgh for the season finale on Dec. 30. They are also looking to snap a nine-game losing streak against the Broncos, dating back to a 17-7 loss at home on Dec. 8, 1991.

This year is the first time since 2004 that the Browns will end the regular season with at least two road games.

The Browns have ended the regular season with at least two road games 31 times in their history, starting with the first four years of the franchise from 1946-49. In 1948, the Browns defeated the New York Yankees, Los Angeles Dons, San Francisco 49ers and Brooklyn Dodgers in four straight road games to end the season.

The team is 39-28-2 in consecutive road games at the end of the regular season.

“We definitely want to win these last two games regardless,” wide receiver Josh Gordon said. “That’s what I meant by finishing strong, putting out your best work on film, showing everybody you can compete against potentially one of the better teams in the NFL this week and next week. We’ve got a lot of work to do.”

Offensively, the work starts with preparing for the pass rush, led by Miller and defensive end Elvis Dumervil. Miller leads the team and is third in the league with 16 sacks through 14 games. He also has intercepted one pass and forced six fumbles on the year.

Dumervil has collected nine sacks for 68 lost yards and six forced fumbles.

“You better make provisions to double, to chip, to slide protections, to fade a tight end in there and help your tackle every now and then,” offensive coordinator Brad Childress said. “Those two guys are something coming off of the edges, Dumervil and Miller. I probably didn’t have as great of a feeling for them how good they are or how fast they are until you spend time starting to watch film on these guys. They run a lot of people down.”

Browns running back Trent Richardson said Miller is a “different” kind of talent.

“He’s one of the best linebackers I’ve seen watching him on film,” Richardson said. “He’s got 16 sacks. I don’t know the stats of many guys, but I know the stats of that guy there. That’s one guy you’ve got to keep your eye on and make sure you can do whatever you can to go and make sure that he’s not making a tackle or disrupting a play.

“That guy is special. He’s very special. He’s quick, fast, knows his offenses and man, he’s the brains of that defense. He’s just that guy that you’ve got to check out. When you know where the play’s going, it seems like half the time, most of the time, he knows the play. He’s just that guy.”

Quarterback Brandon Weeden has experience against Miller. The two played against each other in college when Weeden led the Oklahoma State Cowboys into a matchup with the Texas A&M Aggies. According to Weeden, he was not sacked by Miller, but absorbed a hit that drew a personal foul penalty.

“We’ve faced great defensive linemen and these guys are good,” Weeden said. “I played against Von Miller in college and I still think he’s one of the best players I played against in college. He’s a great pass-rusher. You knew where he was at all times. Dumervil, he’s a great player, can rush the passer, can really create havoc back there. We’ve just got to chip them, do some things in the pass protections, in the snap count where you can kind of catch them off-guard and give our tackles a chance to get their hands on them.”

When the Browns give Weeden protection from the edge rush, he will be throwing against a secondary that has allowed opposing quarterbacks to complete just 293 passes in 507 attempts (57.8 percent) for 3,326 yards and 24 touchdowns. The Broncos have collected 16 interceptions.

Cornerback Chris Harris and linebacker Wesley Woodyard lead the team with three interceptions each, while 14-year veteran defensive back Champ Bailey has two interceptions. Bailey has registered 50 career interceptions, and at least one in each of his 14 pro seasons, which is the second-longest active streak of seasons with an interception in the NFL.

“He’s a first-ballot Hall of Famer,” Weeden said of Bailey. “The guy can play. He’s 14 years in the league, is playing at a high level, still can run just as well as he did five or six years ago. They’re good. They don’t have any weak links. They do a great job of defending the pass; they do a great job of mixing coverages. They’re just a very sound, well-coached football team. You could tell that there’s not many holes. We have to be on point. We have to execute well on first and second down to be successful.”

Gordon added, “They’re really not big on the press coverage. They’ll jump and they’ll guess things really quickly. If you’re not sharp or precise with your route and you’re lazy going into it, then, they’ll definitely be all over it and you probably won’t be open. That’s where it’s going to be big, the route-running.”

Defensively, the Browns will contend with Manning, who has thrown for more than 4,000 yards for the 12th time in his 15-year career. Manning has completed 347 of 511 attempts for 4,016 yards and 31 touchdowns against 10 interceptions in his first year with the Broncos.

“It’s clearly really tough,” defensive coordinator Dick Jauron said. “There are very few teams that have any kind of record against him over the years of his playing career. He’s clearly headed for the Hall of Fame. He’s one of the best that has ever played the game. He’s very smart. He studies, prepares himself well. It’s difficult and about everything has been tried, that’s for sure. He doesn’t win every one of them, so we’ll prepare and we’ll go out there and try to play our best game.”

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