By Vic Carucci, Senior Editor
Here are five keys for the Browns in Sunday’s game against the Denver Broncos:
>>Find a way to pressure Peyton Manning. The Browns’ defense is preparing for what figures to be its greatest challenge of the season. Not that last week’s loss to the Redskins turned out to be any picnic, but nothing compares with the chore of trying to keep Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning in check. Although Manning missed all of last season with a neck injury, he’s every bit the dominant passer he was with the Colts. He still runs the offense with incredible efficiency, keeping mistakes to a minimum while delivering highly accurate passes that have maximized the production of his receivers. Manning is as good as it gets when it comes to feeling pressure, so it will be imperative for the Browns to not only generate as much heat as possible from their line but also be extremely tight in coverage to try and get him to hesitate on throws.
>>Don’t allow Knowshon Moreno to dominate. One way the Browns can help their chances of holding up against Manning and the Broncos’ highly dangerous passing game is to prevent Denver from establishing any sort of offensive balance. The Browns’ defensive front can’t allow Knowshon Moreno, who has taken over for injured Willis McGahee, to get anything going on the ground. Moreno ran for 118 yards and a touchdown on 22 carries against the Ravens last Sunday. Manning’s throwing skills notwithstanding, the Broncos are persistent with the run, so the Browns can expect to get a heavy dose of Moreno. He also has fairly fresh legs after missing eight of the Broncos’ first 10 games this season.
>>Keep the Broncos’ pass rush in check. Brandon Weeden and the rest of the Browns’ passing game will need to execute passes as quickly as they have all season against one of the NFL’s best pass-rushing fronts. Outside linebacker Von Miller, who has 16 sacks and six forced fumbles, is a leading candidate to become the league’s defensive player of the year. End Elvis Dumervil has nine sacks and also has forced six fumbles. Tackles Joe Thomas and Mitchell Schwartz not only must contend with the tremendous speed and athleticism that the Broncos’ dynamic pass-rushing duo will bring, but also with the deafening noise from a stoked-up crowd.
>>Don’t be too quick to give up the run. Although the Browns have not had the rushing production they would like from Trent Richardson, they need to remain as determined as they can be to pound the ball on the ground. They simply can’t have a situation such as last week when Richardson only received two second-half carries. The constant threat of the run is needed to help slow down the Broncos’ highly aggressive pass rush.
>>Win the special-teams battle. It’s a given that the Browns’ offense and defense are in for enormous challenges. So it will be up to their special teams to not only hold their own, but to also make some difference-making plays in the return game.
>>Be sure to tune in Monday through Friday, 6 p.m. to 7 p.m. ET, for “Cleveland Browns Daily, Driven by Liberty Ford” on ESPN 850 WKNR or catch the live stream right here on ClevelandBrowns.com.
>>Have a question for “Cleveland Browns Daily, Driven by Liberty Ford”? Ask me at Twitter.com/browns_daily, Twitter.com/viccarucci, e-mail: Daily@ClevelandBrowns.com, or by calling 855-363-2459.
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