Last week, the Browns defense passed their greatest challenge of the season when they handed the 49ers – who are one of the top offenses in the league – their worst performance this season.
This week, they will travel for only the second time this season to Indianapolis to face the Colts, whose calling card is their run game featuring RB Zack Moss and RB Jonathan Taylor. The Browns know they have a tough matchup and the challenge that their running backs present – especially going on the road.
There's a level of excitement to go against the Colts elite backfield.
"I like stopping the runs, like hitting people," DT Dalvin Tomlinson said. "So, super excited. I always love the challenge with a good running back. They got a good running back group, and they're one of 32 for a reason. So, always embrace the challenge of going against a good running game."
Taylor returned to the Colts after he inked a new three-year, $42 million contract extension on Oct. 7. The next day, he played his first game of the season when the Colts played the Titans in Week 5. Taylor is one of the best running backs in the league and was ranked the sixth-best running back by ESPN entering the 2023 season. In 2022, he was ranked fifth on the best NFL Top 100 players list.
Taylor's running mate, Moss, has been carrying the backfield load in his absence and has emerged as a star himself. In five games, Moss rushed for 466 yards, averaging 4.9 yards per carry, and scored four touchdowns.
Both Taylor and Moss are behind an offensive line that Pro Football Focus ranks as the fourth-best in the league. The Colts run game this season is ranked 14th in rush yards and fifth in rushing touchdowns with eight.
Although the Colts' rushing attack is decent, their passing game has struggled. The team's offense is currently ranked 21st in passer rating and 20th in completion percentage. The Colts have also lost their starting rookie QB Anthony Richardson, who will undergo season-ending shoulder surgery.
Veteran QB Gardner Minshew, ranked the sixth-best backup by ESPN's draft analyst Jordan Reid, will take over as the starter. However, Minshew played his worst game in Week 6 against the Jaguars.
Check out photos of the team working to prepare for the Indianapolis Colts
Minshew completed 33-of-55 passes, which amounts to a 60 percent completion rate, for a total of 329 yards, one touchdown and three interceptions. Additionally, he lost a fumble during the game. Prior to Sunday's game, Minshew had never thrown multiple interceptions in a single NFL game.
He will now face a Browns defense that is the best in the league. The Browns are first in opponent third down conversion percentage at 23 percent. They have only allowed 52 first downs which is first in the NFL. The team has only allowed 1,002 yards, which is first in the league.
The Browns defense could look to boost their interception numbers as they face a Colts team that threw three last week. This season, the Browns have only two interceptions. Delpit and CB Martin Emerson Jr. have caught the only interceptions for the defense. The defensive backs are confident in their ability to make more plays and are eager to catch more.
"All of us in the DB's room are very close," Delpit said. "We chill with each other outside of football. Our connection in real life is what keeps us in sync on the field. We have the matchups to make plays come Sunday."
The Browns defensive backs look like they may have a favorable matchup Sunday, going against a backup quarterback and a receiving core that has only scored one touchdown this season.If the Browns defensive backs can take over the game Sunday with the physicality they bring every game and make turnovers, the team will be in great shape against the Colts.
The Browns defense is determined to halt the Colts' offensive weapon in their running game. They have allowed only two teams to rush over 100 yards this season. On average, the Browns defense gives up 3.5 yards per rushing play.
"I take a lot of pride in stopping the run," Tomlinson said. "Because you can stop the run. You don't have to worry about pass rushing, getting sacks and the quarterback hits because they are just going to keep running the ball."