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Browns vs. Colts: NFL Week 5 Preview and Prediction

Can the Browns improve to 4-1?

Syndication: The Indianapolis Star Scott Horner/IndyStar photo illustration via Imagn Content Services, LLC

On Sunday, the Cleveland Browns take on the Indianapolis Colts for their Week 5 game! Our game analysis and predictions are below.


Game Analysis


NFL: Washington Football Team at Cleveland Browns Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports

So This is What it Feels Like

  • This Week 5 game features the 3-1 Browns taking on the 3-1 Colts. Even though CBS is giving our game the shaft for national coverage because it’s a rare opportunity for them to feature the Giants-Cowboys rivalry in the NFC, it is still being viewed as one of the games of week.
  • Cleveland is Top-13 in NFL Power Rankings, and could crack Top-10 with a win at home this Sunday. Making the playoffs and winning a Super Bowl is of course the ultimate goal, but it hasn’t been often over the past 20 years where the team has been in a spot like this.
  • The Browns will also be back in their orange pants at home in a game that will now feature 12,000 fans, double the capacity of the past two home games. Granted, you’re not going to get that stadium super loud without a packed house, but I’m sure the players still get a little extra pep in their step when they see and hear the thousands of fans going crazy after a big play.

NFL: Minnesota Vikings at Indianapolis Colts Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports

Comparing the Colts

  • Let’s throw that first game out the window for the Browns. Do any of the teams that Cleveland has faced during their three-game winning streak compare to the Colts?
  • Washington is currently the 7th ranked defense in terms of yards allowed (338.3 yards per game) and are 2nd in interceptions and 3rd in sack rate. The Colts are allowing a full 100+ yards fewer per game as they rank 1st in the NFL. They are also 1st in interceptions and 8th in sack rate. There isn’t a weakness on this defense, as they’ve allowed a combined 29 points in their last three games.
  • On offense, the Colts are the definition of “doing what they need to.” It’s smart and efficient, but not explosive. They commit to the running game, but don’t have a high yards per carry average. Philip Rivers releases the ball quickly and isn’t being asked to do too much.

NFL: Washington Football Team at Cleveland Browns Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports

The Variables

  • The Browns’ run defense has been above average in 2020, keeping teams under 100 yards rushing per game. On the surface, I want to say that could put more pressure on Philip Rivers and his receivers to make some plays. However, Larry Ogunjobi is out, which plays to the favor of Indianapolis being able to stay within their gameplan.
  • Anthony Castonzo will miss Sunday’s game at left tackle, ending Indianapolis’ streak of 22 straight games in which the same five offensive linemen started together. Le’Raven Clark will make his first start at left tackle since the 2018 season. The Browns will likely try to test defensive end Myles Garrett against him. However, unlike the previous coaches who were pretty dumb in their schematic planning to leave their replacement-level tackles on an island against Garrett, Colts head coach Frank Reich knows better and will not let that happen. Couple that with the fact that Rivers always gets rid of the ball quick, and it won’t be easy for Garrett to get to him.
  • On the flip side, Rivers isn’t mobile, and he won’t have the type of protection where he’ll have all day to throw. This is a chance for Cleveland to play some zone coverage — not have an extra defender looking out for the quarterback scramble — and clogging up those passing lanes. Even though they’ve missed some balls, the Browns’ linebackers have been coming oh-so-close to dropping into passing lanes for interceptions the past few weeks.
  • The Colts will be without one of their best defenders, linebacker Darius Leonard. Indianapolis’ secondary is also young, but have played above expectations. Don’t get me wrong — this unit is very, very good. But they’ve also faced some bad offenses, much like Cleveland has faced some bad defenses. Something has to give when these two opposites clash. Anyone who says they have a good feel for what will happen is honestly just guessing, and that makes for a very suspenseful lead-up to the game.

Predictions

Here are predictions from multiple staff members at DBN.


Chris Pokorny: “Even though the Browns have a lot of defensive holes, I think Indianapolis is not built to be an attacking type of offense, which plays well to Cleveland’s defensive woes. The Browns deserve credit of being at the top of their class in terms of run blocking, and whether it be on a key sustained drive or taking advantage of a shorter field, I think the running game will continue to have success. I do have some concern about D’Ernest Johnson (simply because he’s an unknown) and the bigger role he’s bound to be thrust in to as he splits reps with Kareem Hunt, and Baker Mayfield has to take some shots up the sideline to Odell Beckham (but not over the middle of the field). In a close and competitive game, I have Cody Parkey hitting the game winner.” Browns 23, Colts 20


Thomas Moore: “The Browns and the Colts are providing an interesting tale through the first four weeks of the season. Cleveland has put up 30-plus points in three consecutive games, albeit against three defenses in Cincinnati, Washington and Dallas that are not very good. Similarly, Indianapolis is allowing the fewest points in the league, albeit against four offenses in Jacksonville, Minnesota, Chicago and the Jets that are not overly productive. So let’s call that matchup a bit of a wash.

For the Browns to win they will need to find a way to handle Colts quarterback Philip Rivers in check, something they have not been able to do very well over the years. In seven previous meetings, Rivers has thrown for 10 touchdowns against just two interceptions, and the Browns have lost five of those seven games. This is a different Browns team, however, and Rivers should be in for a long day with Myles Garrett exploiting the absence of Colts left tackle Anthony Costanzo.

The Browns do just enough on offense, while the defense continues to find a way to make a play when it matters, and the Browns head into Pittsburgh week riding a four-game winning streak.” Browns 21, Colts 17


rufio: “The Browns get the ground game going early and often, leading to some big play action passes downfield to Odell and Njoku. After putting the Colts in a hole early, the Browns’ defense is able to force the Colts into must-pass situations and gets a few turnovers despite surrendering some points.” Browns 33, Colts 28


Barry Shuck: “Interesting storyline: the Colts’ dominate defense against the Browns’ high-flying offense. Indianapolis’ defense is ranked third against the pass and has allowed just 77 yards rushing per game average. Ouch. Nobody has allowed fewer points scored with 56. That’s just two touchdowns a game. Cleveland leads the league in rushing yards (818), attempts (139), yards per carry (5.9), rushing touchdowns (8), runs of 20-yards or more (11) and rushes for first downs (42).

This will not be a David vs. Goliath story but Goliath vs. Goliath. On the offensive side for the Colts, they are middle-of-the-pack running and passing with great special teams. The big question for me is: are the Browns 3-1-0 because they have beaten three bad teams with a combined record of 3-8-1? The Colts are a good football club. If Cleveland can ace a win over a team like this, then we will know that this 2020 squad is a for-real contender. If they get blown out - like against the Ravens - then the answer will be they a mediocre team that needs another year of seasoning.” Colts 27, Browns 10


Ezweav: “The Colts are good, solid team. Not flashy, but just fundamentally sound and they don’t beat themselves. The combo of Reich/Rivers is probably the best the Browns have faced so far, including Harbaugh/Lamjax. Thus, I don’t expect our defense, which has been thoroughly outschemed by everyone we’ve faced, to even be a speed bump against the Indy offense. At the same time, our running game is next-level powerful, and it’s not likely the Colts will be able to slow it down any better than anyone else has. A big reason for this is because, while Baker hasn’t been lighting the world on fire, he is making enough plays to keep defenses honest, allowing our terrific offensive line to just maul people, and that likely continues this week.

Best case for us is another afternoon where we beat ‘em up in the trenches, convert on 3rd down, and hope Myles gets a well-timed turnover (as he’s done in every game thus far). We do that, we have a chance to squeak out a close one. I think it’s more likely the Colts play mistake free, and we can’t overcome the trashiness of the defense for a 4th week in a row.” Colts 36, Browns 27


Who do you think will win, Browns fans? Let us know in the comments section below.