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Preview: Colts at Browns

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While Johnny Manziel is threatening, Brian Hoyer is still the man under center for Cleveland. After being pulled late in last week's loss to Buffalo and ceding stretch-run time to the heralded rookie Manziel, Hoyer remains the starting quarterback for Sunday's all-important home game against Indianapolis, which is eying a division crown. Hoyer had thrown five interceptions over two games before giving way to Manziel, the lightning-rod reserve who ran for a 10-yard score on his first drive.

Colts head coach Chuck Pagano has indicated he is game-planning for both Hoyer and Manziel, while on the home front he is tasked with improving a defense that has given up an average of 29.4 points over a five-game span. Fortunately for Indianapolis, Andrew Luck continues to dominate, putting up 370 yards and five touchdowns in a 49-27 win over Washington last Sunday. The Colts own a two-game lead in the AFC South with a win in hand against second-place Houston, giving them a chance to clinch the division crown with a victory and a Texans loss at Jacksonville.

TV: 1 p.m. ET, FOX. LINE: Colts -3.5. O/U: 49.5

ABOUT THE COLTS (8-4):
Among the many storylines surrounding this one is the return to Cleveland of former No. 3 overall pick running back Trent Richardson, who was abruptly shipped by the Browns to Indianapolis early last season and has targeted this date as a special one. "I don't want to say it's a revenge game, but it's going to be a lot of emotion put in this game," said Richardson, who has averaged just 3.1 yards per carry in 25 games with the Colts and finished with 12 yards on eight carries while playing second fiddle to Dan Herron (88 yards, one touchdown) last week. Pagano said he is still committed to giving Richardson his share of carries.

ABOUT THE BROWNS (7-5): Manziel has said that being placed back on the bench will only motivate him to get the call the next time and the leash may be short for Hoyer, whose completion percentage has dipped to 56.2, 33rd among 34 qualified quarterbacks in the NFL. Hoyer will be without one of his best possession targets in Miles Austin, who was placed on injured reserve due to a kidney ailment discovered hours after he had seasons highs with nine catches and 86 yards against the Bills. The run game, which managed only 74 yards against Buffalo, also remains a question mark with the status of committee leader Isaiah Crowell (hip) up in the air and rookie Terrance West coming off a tough outing in which he had eight yards on five carries and coughed up a fumble that was returned for a score.

EXTRA POINTS

1. Browns TE Jordan Cameron (concussion) has returned to practice after missing five games.

2. Luck ran for two TDs in a 17-13 win over Cleveland in the last meeting between the teams in 2012.

3. Other Colts returning to face their former team are LB D'Qwell Jackson, KR Joshua Cribbs and assistant coach Rob Chudzinski, who coached Cleveland to a 4-12 record last season before being fired.

PREDICTION: Colts 28, Browns 24

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Stadium

FirstEnergy Stadium
Cleveland, Ohio, USA.
Capacity: 73,200

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Last Injuries

Cleveland Browns

  • Ricky Seals-Jones

    Leg
    Ques Sun | questionable

    Seals-Jones has missed the previous three games due to a right leg injury, and it is undetermined if he will return Sunday versus the Patriots.

  • Greedy Williams

    Shoulder
    Ques Sun | questionable

    Williams has missed the past three games due to a shoulder injury, and it is unclear if he will return Sunday against the Cowboys.

  • Jojo Natson

    Knee
    I-R | I-R

    Natson is on the injured reserve list due to a torn ACL in his knee.

  • Denzel Ward

    Groin
    Ques Sun | questionable

    Ward left the last game after aggravating a groin injury, and it is undermined if he will play Sunday versus the Cowboys.

  • Jacob Phillips

    Knee
    Ques Sun | questionable

    Phillips has sat out the last two games due to a knee injury, and it is unknown if he will draw back into the lineup against the Cowboys on Sunday.

  • Olivier Vernon

    Abdominal
    Ques Sun | questionable

    Veronon has been held out of the previous two games with an abdominal injury, and it is uncertain if he will return to the fold Sunday versus the Cowboys.

  • Kareem Hunt

    Groin
    Prob Sun | probable

    Hunt is dealing with a groin injury, but it is anticipated that he will take the field against the Cowboys on Sunday.

  • Odell Beckham Jr.

    Back
    Prob Sun | probable

    Beckham Jr. is expected to dress for Sunday's battle with the Cowboys despite a back injury.

Indianapolis Colts

  • Michael Pittman Jr.

    Calf
    Early Nov | out

    Pittman Jr. had surgery to repair compartment leg syndrome in his calf and is likely to be out of action until at least Week 8 against the Lions.

  • Nyheim Hines

    Shoulder
    Ques Sun | questionable

    Hines is managing a shoulder injury, and it remains to be seen if he will take the field against the Bears on Sunday.

  • Rock Ya-Sin

    Illness
    Ques Sun | questionable

    Ya-Sin has been absent from the last two games due to an illness, and it is unknown if the symptoms will subside in time for Sunday's tilt against the Bears.

  • Dezmon Patmon

    Knee
    Ques Sun | questionable

    Patmon has sat the past three games with a knee injury, and it is unclear if he will return Sunday against the Bears.

  • Matthew Adams

    Ankle
    Out indefinitely | I-R

    Adams has been ticketed for the injured reserve list due to an ankle injury, and he will miss an undetermined length of time.

  • Jack Doyle

    Ankle
    Prob Sun | probable

    Doyle missed the last game with injuries to his ankle and knee. It is projected that he will be active Sunday against the Jets.

  • Xavier Rhodes

    Leg
    Prob Sun | probable

    Rhodes was lifted from the last game due to a leg injury, but he is likely to play Sunday versus the Jets.

  • DeForest Buckner

    Back
    Ques Sun | questionable

    Buckner is managing a back injury, and it remains to be seen if he will line up against the Jets on Sunday.