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Browns vs Colts: 3 things to watch Sunday

Deshaun Watson, Gardner Minshew only a part of the equation

Indianapolis Colts v Jacksonville Jaguars Photo by Perry Knotts/Getty Images

I believe the vibes are back. I think the vibes are back.

The Cleveland Browns will begin a mini two-game road trip as the first game starts in the Hoosier state. Cleveland will take on their second AFC South opponent, this time it’s the Indianapolis Colts.

Last week the Browns were playing on the NFL on Fox, this week they are back on the NFL on CBS. Who will be on the call? Spero Dedes, Adam Archuleta and Aditi Kinkhabwala for a 1:00 PM kickoff.

Here are the 3 things to watch for in this upcoming matchup between the Colts and the Browns

Will the Browns avoid the potential letdown/trap game?

Cleveland is coming off an emotional win last Sunday against the San Francisco 49ers, who were at the time the best team in the league and one of the last two unbeaten teams.

The win was huge for many reasons but we have seen teams have huge wins and follow it up with a let-down performance the following week. The NFL is a week-to-week league. If you follow the NFL closely, you know what I mean. Anyone can lose at any time.

We have seen teams lose to teams they have no business losing to.

Indianapolis has weapons on offense, despite not having rookie quarterback Anthony Richardson under center. Cleveland has to go into this game with the right mindset and not underestimate this opponent. This is where the veterans come in. On both sides of the ball, the Browns know what needs to be done and they can’t have a slip-up against a team that is vulnerable right now.

Watch for the first drive of the game to see how Cleveland comes out and that will dictate how the game goes.

Is this the game that the Cleveland Browns running game gets going?

Cleveland’s running game has been a bit of a hit-and-miss (mainly miss) after losing running back Nick Chubb to a season-ending injury.

Last Sunday, the Browns running game seemed to have gotten going in the later parts of the 49ers game. Is this the week that the running game takes off? Indianapolis’s run defense took a hit when defensive tackle Grover Stewart was suspended for 6 games due to violating the performance-enhancing drugs policy.

With Stewart out, Indianapolis’s run defense will be vulnerable. The Colts rank 5th in run stop win rate and 14th in Defensive Rush EPA/per play. Those are solid numbers but they came with Stewart on the field.

Cleveland found some success in the running game last week utilizing pin/pull concepts (it allows guards/tackles who are athletic to get into space and provide adequate running lanes), and utilizing the double trap concept as well. The Browns also found some success running out of shotgun so look for Cleveland to use that against a front that is a little bit vulnerable right now without one of their stout run defenders.

Will Deshaun Watson’s play take away the Colts running game and force Gardner Minshew to beat you?

The third thing to watch for is will quarterback Deshaun Watson play on Sunday? The quarterback is questionable for the game.

After not speaking to the media last week, Watson spoke to the media on Wednesday to give clarity about what is going on.

Somehow people will try to make a conspiracy out of this but, at this point, it’s not even worth it. If Watson plays on Sunday, cool. If he doesn’t P.J. Walker will start the second consecutive week.

As far as the other quarterback goes on the opposite team, Colts quarterback Gardner Minshew will be the signal-caller for the rest of the season due to Anthony Richardson undergoing season-ending shoulder surgery. Minshew is a backup, and he showed last week that’s what he is. For the Browns defense, the job should be pretty simple. Stack the box, take away the run and force Minshew to beat you.

Cleveland doesn’t force a lot of takeaways but Sunday could be the day that happens.

If Watson is able to play and get the offense humming like they were in Week 3, his last start, then Minshew will be forced to throw more often.