Location: Invesco Field at Mile High, Denver, Colorado
Network, Announcers- CBS: Bill Macatee and Steve Beuerlein
Line: Broncos by three.
Team W/L Records: Cleveland is 0-1; Denver is 1-0
Coaches: Eric Mangini 23-26 overall, 0-1 with the Browns; Josh McDaniels is 1-0 in his first season with the Broncos.
Last Week for the Browns: Led the Vikings 13-10 at halftime but were bulldozed by Adrian Peterson in the second half and lost, 34-20.
Last Season for the Broncos: Beat the Bengals 12-7 when Brandon Stokley snagged a deflected pass and raced down the sideline for an 87-yard touchdown with eleven seconds to play.
All-Time Series: Denver leads, 20-5
Last Meeting- November 6, 2008: One week after blowing a 14-point second-half lead at home against the Ravens, Cleveland blew a 13-point second-half lead at home against the Broncos, as they watched a 23-10 advantage dissolve into a 34-30 loss. The culprits were many: Jay Cutler, who threw for 447 yards and three touchdowns, including a 93-yard strike to Eddie Royal that started Denver's comeback in earnest; Kellen Winslow, who ruined a ten-catch, 110-yard, two-touchdown night with an offensive pass-interference penalty, fumble, and drop that killed Cleveland's last scoring chance; and the Browns defense, which was scorched for 564 total yards despite Denver's running-back corps being almost totally depleted by injury. Brady Quinn made his debut on this night and threw for 235 yards on 23-of-35 passing with two scores.
Out or Questionable for Denver: LB Spencer Larsen (shoulder) and DT Le Kevin Smith (knee) are out; S Josh Barrett (shoulder) and G Chris Kuper (ankle) are questionable.
Out or Questionable for Cleveland: G Rex Hadnot (knee) is out; LB David Bowens (knee), RB James Davis (shoulder), WR Mohamed Massaquoi (shoulder) and RB Cedric Peerman (thigh) are questionable.
What to watch for the Broncos: Over the last decade and change, running the football has become as synonymous with the Broncos as snow to Siberia and technical fouls to Rasheed Wallace. Under Mike Shanahan, a powerful ground game was taken for granted in the foothills of the Rockies. But in the first game of the Josh McDaniels era, the running game was almost an afterthought. Denver ran the ball twenty times in the opener against Cincinnati and threw it twenty-eight times. No Bronco back toted the rock more than eight times, with Corral Buckhalter and rookie Knowshon Moreno each reaching that number. Cleveland's defense was gashed on the ground by the powerful Vikings, giving up 225 yards- the highest total allowed by any defense in the opening week of the season. Moreno was haunted by injuries in the preseason and gained just nineteen yards against the Bengals, but should be healthy for Sunday's game. McDaniels has always been a pass-centric coach going back to his days in New England. Will he continue to put his offense on the shoulders of game-manager extraordinaire Kyle Orton, or will he wake the echoes of Denver's landlocked past against Cleveland's vulnerable run defense and turn loose his first-round rookie?
What to watch for the Browns: Brady Quinn's performance in the season opener against Minnesota was decidedly... Couch-like. The heartthrob from Notre Dame compiled 205 yards on thirty-five attempts, good for a paltry 5.9 yards per attempt, and did nothing to silence the legions of doubters as to his arm strength and ability to throw the football downfield. Braylon Edwards was pretty much a non-entity, catching one pass for twelve yards. Despite the presence of top-flight cornerback Champ Bailey, Denver was 26th in the NFL in pass defense last season and Brady Quinn had the best statistical game of his brief career against the Broncos in 2008, throwing for 235 yards. The Broncos stop troops performed well last week against the Bengals, but that was against a banged-up Carson Palmer. Quinn will have to get the ball downfield and get Braylon involved if the Browns are going to have any chance of winning, especially since Cleveland's running back corps is none too healthy.
Good Past Win over the Broncos- October 8, 1990: Jerry Kauric drilled a 30-yard field goal as the gun sounded to give the Browns a thrilling 30-29 Monday Night victory over the Broncos. It was Cleveland's first victory for in Mile High Stadium since 1972. Denver led 29-20 midway through the fourth quarter before Bernie Kosar led a frantic comeback, first hitting Brian Brennan for a 24-yard touchdown, than engineering a 61-yard drive to set up Kauric's game-winning kick. Cleveland promptly lost eight games in a row following the rousing win, part of an excruciating 3-13 campaign.
Bad Past Loss to the Broncos- December 4, 1983: The Browns got their first bitter taste of John Elway in a 27-6 thumping at the hands of the Broncos in Mile High Stadium. The rookie out of Stanford shredded Cleveland's defense for 284 yards and two touchdowns, including a vintage Horseface play in which he danced out of the grasp of Chip Banks and hit a wide-open Clint Sampson for a 49-yard touchdown. Cleveland's quarterback Brian Sipe, meanwhile, struggled with three interceptions. The only bright spot for the Browns was punter and long-range kicker Steve Cox, who blasted a franchise-record 58-yard field goal through the thin Rocky Mountain air.
Next Week for Both Teams: Denver goes to Oakland; Cleveland goes to Baltimore.
Trivia: The Browns have lost eight consecutive games to the Broncos, including all four played between the teams in the post-1999 expansion era.