FOOTBALL | NFL

Indianapolis Colts vs. Cleveland Browns Pick & Prediction OCT 11TH 2020

Complete TV: CBS FirstEnergy Stadium Cleveland
473Colts Indianapolis
474Browns Cleveland
OP
0
47
CU
1 -115
48.5o -103
ML
ML: -110
ML: -110
Partials
1 2 3 4
7 3 10 3
3 17 7 5
Score
23
32
Jimmy Liu
5 WIN, 2 LOSE, PUSH 0
+ $255 WINNINGS - NFL TOTAL
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Maybe the experts were right about the Cleveland Browns.

 

Just a year later than predicted.

 

Winner of three straight, Cleveland is tied for second place in the AFC North as it enters a big one Sunday at home with the Indianapolis Colts at FirstEnergy Stadium.

 

Expected to contend for a playoff spot in 2019 after a great finish to 2018, the Browns instead were among the league's biggest disappointments. Undisciplined, inconsistent and not cohesive, they wobbled to a 6-10 record and got coach Freddie Kitchens fired after just one year on the job.

 

Kevin Stefanski was seen by some as another "settle" hire by Cleveland, but the former Vikings offensive coordinator has tapped into a formula Kitchens couldn't. The Browns (3-1) lead the league in rushing and are fourth in scoring, enabling third-year quarterback Baker Mayfield to become more efficient and less mistake-prone.

 

"It's about understanding our guys," Stefanski said. "I think I'm getting a better grasp of what our guys are good at, and we have to double down on those things and protect our things. We have a bunch of guys who are working hard and want to contribute to this."

 

One of those guys is out of the equation this week. Nick Chubb, the league's third-leading rusher with 335 yards, injured his knee in the first half of last week's wild 49-38 win at Dallas. But Cleveland showcased excellent depth at running back in former Chiefs star Kareem Hunt (71 yards, two touchdowns) and rookie D'Ernest Johnson (95 yards).

 

That said, Hunt, Johnson and a good offensive line might have a tougher assignment this week. Even if Indianapolis (3-1) has to play without stud linebacker Darius Leonard, who missed the second half of last week's 19-11 win in Chicago, it still has a defense that is allowing a league-low 14 points per game and leads the NFL with seven interceptions.

 

But Colts coach Frank Reich, whose team has won three straight since a shocking Week 1 loss at Jacksonville, says the Browns pose a difficult task for his club.

 

"This will be our defense's biggest challenge," Reich said. "You know, you've got the No. 1 offense as far as running the ball. The other thing is that they're No. 1 at explosive plays in the running game."

 

Indianapolis' offense has had to reboot a bit after losing 1,000-yard rusher Marlon Mack to a season-ending Achilles' rupture in the loss at Jacksonville. But rookie running back Jonathan Taylor has played well in Mack's place, averaging 75.7 yards in three games as a starter.

 

It's also helped that veteran quarterback Philip Rivers has hit the ground running in his first year with the Colts after 16 seasons with the Chargers. Rivers is completing nearly 73 percent of his passes, characteristically spreading the wealth among a deep receiving corps.

 

Rivers is enjoying the opportunity to play complementary football with an excellent defense, something he couldn't always do with the Chargers.

 

"Our job is to score one more point than the defense allows," he said. "Certainly the way our defense is playing and the confidence that we have in our defense, it would be crazy for me to say I expect our D to give up a lot of points."

 

Leonard (groin) and linebacker Bobby Okereke (thumb) didn't practice on Wednesday, and left tackle Anthony Castonzo (rib) also sat out practice. Cleveland defensive tackles Sheldon Richardson (thigh) and Larry Ogunjobi (abdomen) were absent from practice on Wednesday.

 

--Field Level Media

 

Indianapolis Colts vs. Cleveland Browns

Baker Mayfield threw for 247 yards and two touchdowns Sunday and the Cleveland Browns' defense hassled Indianapolis Colts quarterback Philip Rivers into major mistakes during a 32-23 win at FirstEnergy Stadium in Cleveland.

Mayfield was 21 of 37 with two interceptions as Cleveland (4-1) won its fourth straight game by complementing its league-best rushing attack with key passes, particularly when it scored on all four first-half possessions.

Meanwhile, Rivers completed 21 of 33 for 243 yards, but tossed two interceptions. One was a pick-six that Ronnie Harrison Jr. took 47 yards at the 12:15 mark of the third quarter for a 27-10 Cleveland lead.

Rivers was also pressured into an intentional grounding foul in the end zone 16 seconds into the fourth quarter, giving the Browns a safety and a nine-point lead. It forced the Colts into trying to make up a two-score difference for the game's remainder.

Rookie kicker Rodrigo Blankenship converted a 25-yard field goal with 2:53 left to pull them within six points. But Cody Parkey iced the outcome by banking a 46-yard field goal, his third of the day, off the left upright with 21 seconds remaining.

Parkey initiated scoring with a 27-yard field goal about 4 1/2 minutes into the game, the first of four long scoring drives by Cleveland in the first half. After Jonathan Taylor's 4-yard run gave Indianapolis (3-2) a 7-3 edge, Mayfield flipped a 2-yard touchdown pass to Kareem Hunt 54 seconds into the second quarter.

Blankenship's 32-yard field goal evened the score at 10, but Mayfield answered with 5:58 left before halftime, finding Rashard Higgins for a 15-yard scoring strike. Parkey hit a 36-yard field goal 17 seconds before halftime for a 20-10 Browns lead.

After Harrison's interception return, the Colts rallied to make it a game. Isaiah Rodgers lugged the ensuing kickoff 101 yards for a touchdown, and Blankenship made a 37-yard field goal with 4:02 left in the third quarter to cut the deficit to 27-20.

Hunt finished the day with 72 yards on 20 carries as the Browns were held to 124 rushing yards in their first full game without injured RB Nick Chubb.

Cleveland's 4-1 start is its first such beginning since 1994, when Bill Belichick was its coach.

--Field Level Media

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