Cleveland Browns (5-9 SU, 8-5-1 ATS) vs. Denver Broncos (11-3 SU, 8-6 ATS)
NFL Week 16
Date/Time: December 23, 2012. 4:05 p.m. EST.
Where: Sports Authority Field at Mile High Stadium
by Wilson, Football Handicapper, Predictem.com
Point Spread: Cle +13.5/Den -13.5
Over/Under Total: 44.5
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Peyton Manning is back to his old ways and oh, look, he’s heading for the playoffs-again. Manning and the Denver Broncos host the Cleveland Browns this weekend in what should be a Bronco home win. But don’t count out the Browns just yet, they looked like a confident bunch early last week against the Redskins as they led 14-10 in the 2nd quarter but then the Brown’s defense allowed 28 points in the 2nd half and fell 38-21. Meanwhile the Broncos come into this game with the advantage over the Browns in nearly every offensive category including total yards, passing, rushing, third down conversions and time of possession.
Cleveland comes in to this matchup winners of 3 out their last 4 contests. Granted, the Browns only significant win during that stretch came against a Roethlisberger-less Steeler squad who also had a banged up defense. The other Ws were against cellar dwellers Kansas City and Oakland. Denver is on a roll. The Broncos have won 9 straight contests and based on their next two opponents (Browns and Chiefs) they should finish the regular season with wins and an 11-game win streak.
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The QB matchup in this game is obviously a bit skewed; any time Peyton Manning is behind center he is usually the favored QB unless Big Ben or Tom Brady or Terry Bradshaw is the counterpart. Manning has a QB rating of 103.5. He has thrown for over 4000 yards and 31 touchdowns with 10 INTs. Manning is a student of the game. His ability to read a defense and call a successful audible is probably better than any other QB in the league. Ironically, Manning’s opponent was on the radar to be Denver’s next QB had Manning not signed the deal. Brown’s QB Brandon Weeden was the next choice for the Broncos mainly because he was a 29 year old rookie who they believed could start in the system earlier than later but no need-Manning is the man in Denver. Weeden has yet to prove he is the franchise QB for the Browns. He has been so-so and has a QB rating of 72.4 with 3200 plus yards passing, 14 TDs but 17 INTs. Weeden runs the ball more than Manning as he has 106 total rushing yards on the season. The bottom line in this QB matchup is simple-Manning 103.5, Weeden 72.4.
Cleveland’s top rusher is Trent Richardson who has 258 carries for 897 yards. The Brown’s top two receivers are Josh Gordon, 45 receptions for 759 yards and 5 TDs. Gordon average 16.9 yards per catch and Greg Little with 44 catches for 551 yards and 2TDs; Little averages 12.5 yards per catch.
Peyton Manning connects most often with wide receivers Demaryius Thomas and Eric Decker. Thomas has 78 rec. for 1210 yards and 8 TDs. He averages 15.5 yards per catch. Decker has 72 rec. for 923 yards, 9 TDs and averages 12.8 yards per grab. On the ground Denver’s Knowshon Moreno carried the ball 22 times for 118 yards and a TD last week in the win over the Ravens. Moreno highlighted early with a 20 yard run after leaping over Raven’s safety Ed Reed. With this well balanced attack the Broncos will be difficult for the Browns to defend.
The Broncos are 5-1 at home while the Browns are 1-5 on the road this season. Head to head, the Browns are 1-4 ATS in their last 5 meetings. 13.5 is a lot to give in the NFL, but then again, we are talking about one of the best QBs of all-time and his teammates are getting the job done every week. The Broncos are ranked No. 1 in the power rankings while the Browns are No. 17. I like the Brown energy but the Broncos are just a better football team right now.
Wilson’s Pick to Cover the Point Spread: Peyton is too great and his O-line has given him time to check off and make plays. The Broncos are enjoying this ride; fans missed having a dynamic QB, but no worries Denver; Manning is your Elway of the new millennium. Denver 31, Cleveland 10. Luck to ya.
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