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Ultimate fans: Broncos’ defense, running game key to a win over Browns

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Two ultimate fans, two different views about outcome of the game - but still one favorite team to root for.

Cleveland Browns v Denver Broncos Photo by Rob Leiter via Getty Images

It’s a whole new world, ultimate fans. Emmanuel Sanders is in wide receiver heaven on an undefeated team - which is not us - and Joe Flacco has taken his last snap for the Broncos this season and likely for good.

At 2-6, Denver hosts Cleveland for its final game before the long-awaited bye week behind an untested fourth-year quarterback. It could be thrilling or it could be dreadful - but either way, we have ultimate fans who will make thinking about this matchup a lot of fun.

Plus, for this post-Halloween Ultimate Fan Guide, you’re in for a treat as we have two outstanding volunteers - one a veteran who calls it like he sees it every year; and one a newcomer to UFG but a self-proclaimed and ordained “prophet” for the Broncos. I do appreciate the irony that both our fan authors’ names this week have some biblical association. A good omen, perhaps? Let’s hope.

And just remember, ultimate fans, “hope is a good thing, maybe the best of things.”

Week 9: Browns at Broncos

MHR - The end zone play where Von Miller had Jacoby Brissett in his grasp for a game-winning sack that instead turned into a huge first down feels like a metaphor for this season - so close but yet so far. What were your feelings about the team, the season after that game?
milehighprophet: Von grabbed a hold of Brissett’s handwarmer and it came loose. Von is still a beast...waiting to be unleashed!

the_prodigal_fan: Honestly, I was convinced the season was over after the KC game. The Indy game was just confirmation that Denver is done. The defense was solid. But the familiar refrain was still there; the offense was garbage. I want to say that it’s talent (or lack thereof) on the offensive side of the ball that’s the problem, but that’s been true for long enough that it’s clear that management is the real problem.

Elway had an enormous leash with me because of the success he had building a contender following the McHoodie years, but the failure to obtain a serviceable QB coupled with the inexplicable decision to not move on from Bolles says to me that it’s time to move on.

MHR - After 2-5, many Broncos fans were ready to bench Flacco and put in Drew Lock to let the season be whatever it would be while testing the rookie. Instead, season-ending IR for Flacco has an untested QB in there but it’s not Lock; it’s Brandon Allen. What are your thoughts on how this has unfolded? Do you still hope to see Lock this season?
milehighprophet: It’s crazy that all of our uninjured QBs have never taken an NFL regular season snap, but there’s no question that Lock will take snaps before the end of the season.

MHR - Do you wish Lock had been back practicing sooner so he could have been the option this week? How are you feeling about Brandon Allen this week?
the_prodigal_fan: Yes, without question, I wish he had been practicing and was ready to go this week. He represents a large investment of draft capital, and given what we now know about the Flacco Era, we need to see what Lock has so we can know if he is really the future. Sadly, it is not to be. Do I think we will see Lock eventually? Probably. Will it matter? Probably not.

If the organization sticks to its established pattern, they will throw Lock in for the last game or two. He will predictably struggle in his first live regular season action, and the team will take that as proof he is a bust and move on from him. I am sick of this cycle, but if we end up with a high enough draft pick to move into position for one of the top two guys coming out this year, I can almost stomach it one last time. With that said, I don’t have any faith in this team’s ability to develop a young QB.

We’ve repeatedly seen the team stubbornly refuse to play the young guys for whatever reason. Then, when the team has already mailed in the season, they throw the young guy to the wolves at the end, young guy fails, team benches young guy, retreads a useless vet, young guy doesn’t develop and loses all of his confidence. Young guy is broken and is eventually released. It’s happened over and over again, with the only break being the Manning years. As for Allen, I don’t believe he is the answer to our QB problem. I will enthusiastic root for him, 1) because he’s a Bronco and 2) because he is a change from what was failing before. So it will probably be a whole new flavor of failure, which will at least be a little variety. If it wasn’t clear before, I am not optimistic.

MHR - Word on the street is that Allen is mobile enough to move out of the pocket when necessary. How necessary do you think that will be with Myles Garrett on the opposite side? What’s your prediction for generally how well Allen does this week in his first NFL start?
milehighprophet: Again, Allen’s never taken a regular season snap and the Broncos O-line hasn’t done a great job of protecting Flacco. That being said, extending a play by a second or two might just do the trick!

MHR - What kind of role do you expect out of Phillip Lindsay and Royce Freeman this weekend? Will Courtland Sutton have a chance to be a big target for Allen, or is it more likely to see some Noah Fant and DaeSean Hamilton in there?
the_prodigal_fan: If we are smart, Lindsay and Freeman will have huge roles. We have an untested young guy under center, behind a miserable offensive line, so simply to enable him to survive, we need to run the ball early and often. We have yet to prove we are smart, so what will probably happen is we will run it a dozen or so times and throw it 50 times.

When we DO go to the passing game, Sutton needs to be target number one. He was a monster in the Indy game, which makes it baffling to me why we didn’t target him more. He is a physical beast who is proving that he will fight for the ball and beat smaller DBs. Throw the ball to him and let him go get it. The more success that Sutton has, the more he will open things up for others. He’s a true number one receiver. Use him like one.

MHR - In addition to having a backup with his first NFL start behind center on Sunday, the Browns have the 7th best defense against the pass. What does this mean for Courtland Sutton, DaeSean Hamilton and even Noah Fant?
milehighprophet: Our receiving corps is going to have to rise to the challenge. They have the talent and they have the grit. They just need to put them all together in a single week.

MHR - The Broncos defense has gotten better each week and despite the offense’s struggles has been able to stop some very prolific offenses. What will be the key to stopping Baker Mayfield from doing Baker Mayfield things?
the_prodigal_fan: Mayfield is in the midst of a true sophomore slump. Bring pressure early, get him rattled, and he will take risks. He’s already a bit of a gunslinger-type anyway. Get him nervous in the pocket and he will make mistakes. This has been a rough year for him and an overall disappointment for the Browns in general, so they are definitely vulnerable.

MHR - Which player will be a bigger problem for the Broncos defense - Odell Beckham Jr. or Nick Chubb? And will it really be Baker Mayfield that’s the problem given how he caused Von Miller fits last season?
milehighprophet: CHJ will be able to address Beckham. Purcell and the inside linebackers have to contain Chubb. Mayfield vs. Miller? Please. Miller!

MHR - Kareem Jackson and Justin Simms are quietly having great seasons at safety. What do you think of their play? How important will they be on Sunday?
the_prodigal_fan: Simmons may be the most important player on the defense not named Von Miller. He has been a true force this season. Jackson has been really good too. We are a CB away from having a true reboot of the No Fly Zone secondary. How important are they this week? Well, the defense is the only thing that is keeping us from being blown out every week, so I’d say very. That said, if we are going to win, they may not just have to prevent the other team from scoring; the defense might have to score some points themselves, because the offense has proven to be completely incapable of it yet again.

MHR - This is a terribly unfair question but you have to choose one answer: What will be more important for the Broncos winning on Sunday - a defense that forces sacks and turnovers or an offense that scores touchdowns?
milehighprophet: Touchdowns! Can’t keep stalling in the red zone!

MHR - If you were advising John Elway about what to do with Chris Harris Jr. - re-sign him or let him go into free agency as a 31-year-old CB - what would you do? How much would you offer to CHJ to keep him here?
the_prodigal_fan: Frankly, I would have already traded him. He’s been a great player, one of my favorite Broncos of all time, but we are in need of a rebuild. For that, we need draft capital. I doubt we can field another contender while Harris is still a prime performer. Since we did not trade him, I’d make him an offer, but not a huge one.

MHR - Back in the 80s, the Broncos and the Browns played two of the most memorable AFC Championships - The Drive and The Fumble. Do you remember these games? If so, which one was your favorite? If not, please tell us you have at least watched old 80s TV footage :)
milehighprophet: The Drive...because you’ll always love the first time you made it into the Broncos Commandments!
the_prodigal_fan: I was too young to remember watching those games live. That said, I have seen both in their entirety multiple times. I love both, but The Drive is my favorite. That was the moment that Elway announced to the league what he really was.

Predictions - milehighprophet

Stats for Brandon Allen? 10-18, 70 yards

Stats for each Broncos RB? Lindsay 100+ yds and 1 TD; Freeman 40 yds

Number of yards receiving/TDs for each receiver? Sutton 90 yds and 1 TD

Longest FG for McManus? 52

Number of sacks to Allen? 3

Number of sacks to Baker Mayfield? 2

Broncos player with the most tackles? The Outlaw Josey Jewell

Who gets the first sack for the Broncos? Derek Wolfe

How many INTs/FF/FR for the Broncos D? 3

How many terrible defensive holding penalties will be called? 1...hopefully NOT in the last 2 minutes

How many completely non-existent PI calls will be made? 2

How many holding penalties for the offensive line? 3

Final Score? Broncos 20, Browns 16

Predictions - the_prodigal_fan

Stats for Brandon Allen? 400 yards passing, 5 TDs, no INTs. Now please excuse me, while I go make sacrifices to the Football Gods…the reality will probably be closer to 150 yards passing and a couple of INTs.

Stats for each Broncos RB? I expect Freeman and Lindsay to combine for about 100 yards on 20-25 carries and another 30 yards receiving.

Number of yards receiving/TDs for each receiver? Sutton will have 90 yards receiving, everyone else will combine for 60 yards.

Longest FG for McManus? 48 yards

Number of sacks to Allen? That depends. Is Bolles playing? Minimum of 6.

Number of sacks to Baker Mayfield? Probably 5 or 6.

Broncos player with the most tackles? Alexander Johnson

Who gets the first sack for the Broncos? DeMarcus Walker

How many INTs/FF/FR for the Broncos D? If the Broncos can rattle Mayfield early, we could have three or four INTs. If we don’t, we probably force 1 turnover, if that.

How many terrible defensive holding penalties will be called? 2

How many completely non-existent PI calls will be made? 2

How many holding penalties for the offensive line? Again, is Bolles playing? If so, at least 6.

Final Score? Browns 10, Broncos 6. Until proven otherwise, this team plays easily well enough to win on defense, but couldn’t score if their lives depended on it.

The Favorites - milehighprophet

Where were you the day John Elway drove 98 yards to beat the Browns and win the 1987 AFC Championship? Glued to my TV...contemplating the Broncos’ Sixth Commandment because that day it would begin - “Thou shalt remember The Drive, The Fumble, The Helicopter.”

Where were you the day Von Miller ripped the soul out of Cam Newton in SB 50? Glued to my TV...counting my winning bets!

Team(s) you hate to lose to the most? Raiders

Team you love to beat? Raiders!

Favorite game this season? Chargers - the first road game for the Mile High Prophet

Toughest game still on the schedule? Chiefs

Favorite Broncos player on the current roster? Philip Lindsay - gotta love the hometown kid

Favorite Broncos player of all time? John Elway...aka The Provider

Favorite new guy/rookie on the team? Dalton Risner

Former Broncos player who most deserves HOF? Steve Atwater

Least favorite game analyst/commentator? Cris Collilnsworth

Favorite game-day snack? My Thunder Bomb shots at the Fired Up Tailgate

Superstitions on game day? Have to consult the Oracle at Mile High in order to create my game day prophecy

The Favorites - the_prodigal_fan

Favorite Broncos game EVER? Super Bowl XXXII

Where were you the day John Elway drove 98 yards to beat the Browns and win the 1987 AFC Championship? I was four years old. I don’t remember.

Where were you the day Von Miller ripped the soul out of Cam Newton in SB 50? Glued to my big screen TV, relishing every moment.

Team(s) you hate to lose to the most? The Chiefs. Mostly because of their fans.

Team you love to beat? The Chiefs.

Favorite game this season? The Tennessee game. I always love being on the right side of a shutout.

Toughest game still on the schedule? The Chiefs rematch.

Favorite Broncos player on the current roster? Miller.

Favorite Broncos player of all time? Elway.

Favorite new guy/rookie on the team? Dalton Risner. He has quietly put together a very impressive body of work on a very unimpressive offense and team.

Former Broncos player who most deserves HOF? Steve Atwater.

Least favorite game analyst/commentator? Phil Simms. Always and forever.

Favorite game-day snack? Nachos.

Superstitions on game day? If I drink myself into a stupor, the pain goes away...

How did you become a Broncos fan?

the_prodigal_fan: Family inheritance. My mom’s family and my dad’s family are all Bronco fans, so I was immersed in it from birth.

milehighprophet: Long ago, there was a sports fan from a distant land. He grew up watching football every weekend during the fall as his father and grandfather did before him. His grandfather once played for a man named Rockne. The fan WORSHIPPED his teams. His favorite team was one symbolized by hard-working people who supplied fuel for the country. In 1996, it was announced that his team would abandon his land and move to another. The fan was devastated and fell into a deep depression that spanned the millennium. In 2002, the fan had a change of careers that brought him to a different land – a land one mile high into the sky. There, he would make a permanent home for his family.

Meanwhile, it was a dark time for the Broncos – they were between championships – wandering aimlessly in the desert – postseason after postseason. The fan, who had always respected Denver as a phenomenal sports town, was contemplating the future of his new team while hiking in the Arapaho National Forest. There, a wild horse appeared among the clouds and beckoned the fan to the top of Mount Evans. Upon reaching the summit, The Provider appeared to the fan. The Provider told the fan that he would become The Provider’s messenger to Broncos Country – a Mile High Prophet – and provided him with laws to deliver to Broncos Country. The Provider commanded The Prophet to take down these Broncos Ten Commandments and carry them down the mountain to his chosen people and deliver them from bondage. The Provider gave The Prophet robes of orange and blue to keep him warm on his journey as well as a staff to guide him down the mountain. To this day, The Prophet delivers the words of The Provider before every game.

Here are the Broncos Fans Ten Commandments:

I. I am the Provider, who brought you out of the desert, out of the land of losses.

II. Thou shalt have no other franchises before me.

III. Thou shalt not take the name of the Orange Crush in vain.

IV. Remember Opening Day and keep it holy!

V. Honor thy blockers for they are the key to yardage.

VI. Remember The Drive, The Fumble, and The Helicopter.

VII. Thou shalt not leave the game early.

VIII. Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor’s season tickets.

IX. Thou shalt not sell thy tickets to opposing teams’ fans.

X. Thou shalt not cheer for a division rival unless it helps thy Broncos playoff bid.

- Exodus 52:80

Poll

Which following Commandment are you guilty of breaking?

This poll is closed

  • 14%
    VIII.
    (11 votes)
  • 2%
    IX.
    (2 votes)
  • 1%
    X.
    (1 vote)
  • 12%
    VII.
    (9 votes)
  • 41%
    None. I am perfect.
    (31 votes)
  • 28%
    Perhaps a few, but I asked for forgiveness and was absolved.
    (21 votes)
75 votes total Vote Now