Browns vs. Broncos 2012 game preview: Denver goes for 10 straight

US PRESSWIRE

The Browns bring a decent defense and inexperienced offense to Denver, where they'll face a juggernaut Broncos team that is nearly unbeatable right now -- at home, or anywhere else.

The Denver Broncos host the Cleveland Browns in Week 16 NFL action on Sunday afternoon at Sports Authority Field at Mile High in Denver, Colo.

The Broncos enter the game at 11-3, having won nine consecutive games. In that same span, the Browns actually have a winning record, going 5-4 in their last nine games after starting the season 0-5.

Meet the Broncos

What a difference a quarterback makes. In 2011, the Broncos mixed in some big-play ability with a solid defense and a great performance from its offensive line to sneak into the playoffs and steal a win from the Pittsburgh Steelers in the wildcard round. In 2012, with Peyton Manning under center, those same Broncos morphed into one of the league's most dominant teams, clinching a playoff spot weeks ago and now chasing home field advantage.

Manning has thrown for 4,016 yards and 31 touchdowns in his first season since undergoing several operational procedures on his neck. Demaryius Thomas has been the main beneficiary of the team's much-improved play at quarterback, catching 78 passes for 1,210 yards and eight TDs.

Meet the Browns

The Browns used two first round picks in the 2012 NFL Draft to attempt to revamp their offense, selecting running back Trent Richardson with the No. 3 overall pick, then claiming quarterback Brandon Weeden 19 spots later.

Richardson's selection has paid immediate dividends, as the punishing back has rushed for 897 yards and 11 touchdowns, despite gaining just 3.5 yards per attempt. Weeden has shown flashes of potential, but has struggled overall in his first season. The 29-year-old rookie has thrown more interceptions (17) than touchdowns (14), although he has already eclipsed the 3,000-yard mark with two games left to play.

Local Takes: Broncos

In evaluating the Browns' secondary, Scotty Payne from Mile High Report thinks it could challenge Denver's offense:

The Browns have a solid secondary. Joe Haden is one of the better corners in the league and veteran Sheldon Brown isn't too bad either. On the year Haden has 41 tackles and 3 INTs, and Brown has 58 tackles, 1 sack and 3 INTs. Slot corner Buster Skrine has 75 tackles. Manning may have a tough time against these guys.

Local Takes: Browns

Chris Pokorny from Dawgs By Nature gives the Broncos the advantage in most categories, making his hopes for a Browns victory very slim:

While I'm excited about the prospect of the Browns shocking the world, the injuries on defense, particularly at safety, are a major concern for me this week. I'm expecting Manning to finally snap his streak of mediocre games against Cleveland's defense, but the Browns will still make the final score appear respectable.

Follow the Fun

Be sure to check out SB Nation's team blogs, Mile High Report and Dawgs By Nature, for more analysis and highlights from the game.

Add these fine follows to your Twitter timeline:

@MileHighReport

@DawgsByNature

@MaseDenver

@MaryKayCabot

Prediction

The Broncos shouldn't have much of a problem getting past the Browns on Sunday. Cleveland does some things well, and as stated above, is a winning football team over the past two months. Still, it will take an elite-level team to beat Denver at home, and that's far from what the Browns are.

The pick: 34-17, Broncos

Odds

The Broncos are 11½-point favorites over the Browns on Sunday, according to OddsShark.com.

Next Week

The Broncos close out the season at home on Dec. 30 against the woeful Kansas City Chiefs. That same day, the Browns hit the road again for a season-ending game against the Pittsburgh Steelers.

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