Thursday Night Football Week 7 Preview and Prediction: Cleveland Browns vs. Denver Broncos
Cleveland Browns vs. Denver Broncos Start Time, Where to Watch, and Odds
Date: Thursday, October 21, 2021
Game Time: 8:20 p.m. ET
Where to Watch: FOX/NFL Network
- Key Stat: Baker Mayfield, Nick Chubb, and Kareem Hunt are out, and eight Browns are questionable. Teddy Bridgewater is questionable for Denver.
Cleveland Browns vs. Denver Broncos Prediction
Week 7 brings us one of our most brutal Thursday night games of the year. The Browns are incredibly banged up and will be without Baker Mayfield and both of their star running backs, Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt. An additional eight Browns are listed as questionable, including edge defender Jadeveon Clowney, both of their tackles Jack Conklin and Jedrick Wills, center JC Tretter, and wide receiver Odell Beckham. All of their questionable players did get in limited practices on Wednesday except Beckham.
So the Browns will start Case Keenum at quarterback, and D’Ernest Johnson will likely handle the bulk of the rushing duties. If Beckham can’t go, they’ll be down their top two wide receivers, as Jarvis Landry is still on IR. Assuming the offensive linemen can go, though, this offense shouldn’t be in as bad of shape as it might seem. Keenum is a serviceable backup if mistaken-prone and the offensive line and scheme should keep things at least partially moving at home.
Denver is less banged up but isn’t without their own issues. Teddy Bridgewater is questionable with a foot injury, though he could practice in a limited fashion. The Broncos have Drew Lock behind him, and Lock is another serviceable backup, as far as backups go, but he’s struggled so far in his career. The Broncos also have a tackle listed as questionable, Garrett Bolles, though he got in limited practices on both Tuesday and Wednesday.
The Broncos are still without Jerry Jeudy and lost KJ Hamler for the season a few weeks ago, but Courtland Sutton has been seeing a ton of targets over the past few weeks as the No. 1 WR, and Noah Fant has taken a step forward in his third year. Denver also has their own backfield duo healthy, with veteran Melvin Gordon and rookie Javonte Williams splitting work nearly 50/50, so the skill position group for Denver is in better shape.
But Cleveland’s defense is playing at a high level, ranking in the top six in the league in success rate against both the run and the pass, while the Broncos have struggled offensively. Of course, Denver does have a solid defense of their own. Still, I’m of the mind Cleveland will find ways to move the ball, running and leaning on play-action pass, potentially while leaning more heavily on a group of three tight ends they are willing to incorporate in their passing game.
The over/under is very low in this one, and for a good reason. Not only are the offenses more banged up, but the defenses are also headlined by two of the best pass rushers in the NFL in Myles Garrett and Von Miller. The game has been bet toward the Broncos with Mayfield out, but Denver is coming off back-to-back losses to Pittsburgh and Las Vegas, two teams who are probably not as good as their early records. Going into Cleveland and winning on a short week will be no small task, even with the Browns banged up. I’m taking Cleveland -2.