Cleveland running back Trent Richardson.
Cleveland running back Trent Richardson. (Jason Miller, Getty Images)

1. Make it a tough day in quarterback class. When it comes to passer rating, Browns rookie quarterback Brandon Weeden is throwing in some bad company. He ranks 32nd in the NFL at 72.4. The only QBs worse who have made starts this season: Mark Sanchez, Matt Cassel and John Skelton. Weeden has three 300-yard games and four games with fewer than 200 yards.

2. Don't let the Tide get rolling. When rookie running back Trent Richardson, who won the Doak Walker Award at Alabama last year, is healthy and the Browns keep giving him the ball, good things tend to happen. The Browns are 3-2 when he carries the ball at least 20 times. He's also the Browns leading receiver, with 48 catches. The Broncos have struggled covering the big guys — running backs or tight ends — in the passing game.

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3. Keep Josh Cribbs from getting loose. In a year when Denver's special teams have been top shelf, last weekend's game in Baltimore wasn't one the Broncos will frame. Place-kicker Matt Prater and punter Britton Colquitt combined for three tackles to help save touchdowns on returns. The Broncos also missed a field-goal attempt and mishandled the ball in the return game. Cleveland's Cribbs has eight kickoff returns for touchdowns in his career and is tied for sixth in the NFL at 27.6 yards per return. He rarely calls for a fair catch on a punt — just six this season, compared with 35 returns. So the Broncos can't just kick for distance against him.


4. This is no time to be Team Turnover. The Broncos finally played a turnover-free game last weekend. In the all-important turnover margin, the Broncos have been even or plus-1 in their last six games and haven't lost a fumble in four games. If they continue to take care of the ball, they will be a serious contender for a Super Bowl berth.

5. It's all about holding serve for Broncos. If the Broncos are as mature a team as they say they are, they will win out before the playoffs start. They wrap up the regular season against the Browns (5-9) and the Chiefs (2-12), both games in Denver. If the Broncos want a playoff bye, or home-field advantage in the AFC, they have to win out and finish 13-3.
Jeff Legwold, The Denver Post