Week 9 Predictions: Can Cleveland Browns score road win in Denver?
Writer: Elliot Kennel
Summary: Porous defense versus a team that needs to run
First of all, the Browns ought not gloat just because longtime nemesis and former Raven Joe Flacco is out. This is not your father’s Flacco in 2019. He is no longer the star who tormented the Browns year after year. At this point, the mileage on the odometer is very high and it might be time for a new model. Brandon Allen, though not the franchise guy the Broncos are looking for, might be as good or better than Flacco. After four years in the SEC, the Arkansas Razorback has been in the NFL since 2016.
Allen has been with the Jacksonville Jaguars and Los Angeles Rams. In college, Allen was a three-year starter who showed great improvement in his senior year. He has a good accurate arm and has the smarts to avoid interceptions, though he is undersized and not fast. He could be compared to Cody Kessler 2.0. But here is the difference between Kessler 1.0 and Allen — the Browns started Kessler as a rookie, whereas Allen is in his fourth year in the NFL.
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Rookie quarterbacks generally need to find their way to the practice field by following a trail of bread crumbs. But they get better year by year, and after four years of learning NFL offenses, Allen is probably good enough to lead the 27th ranked passing offense in the NFL which is what the Broncos were under Flacco.
The Broncos have not been very good, but their strength is defense. They are the fourth-best in the NFL in terms of opponents’ yardage at 304.5 yards. The Browns are 21st, giving up 365.4 yards per game. The Browns are a little better offensively, gaining 345.3 yards per game to 312.6. for the Broncos. Still yard differential favors the Broncos, and they have home field.
Denver will employ a run-first offense to lessen the load on Allen. Unfortunately, the Browns cannot stop the run. Cleveland opponents have already gone over 1000 yards for the season and are averaging 4.8 yards per carry. As good as Nick Chubb is, Browns’ opponents usually gain more yards on the ground. That’s hard to believe but true. So stop putting it all on Baker Mayfield and save some for the Browns rushing defense, because that is the most glaring problem area of the team.
Brandon Allen is not going to make the Broncos into contenders, but he will probably be respectable and possibly good enough to beat the Browns this week.
Score: Denver 24, Browns 23