Sunday, October 22, 2006

If I Nod Off, Don't Wake Me

The Browns take on the Broncos today in a game that has inexplicably been designated as a 4:05 p.m. start. What makes this match-up one to merit a marquee time slot? Unless you're into the Browncos story line, which I'm not, absolutely nothing. In fact, this thing has all the makings of one of the most boring games of the season. Two of the league's worst offenses match up in a contest that appears destined to end up with a score of something like 5-3.

I already spent several hundred words frothing at the mouth about the Browns during the bye week, so I won't waste time rehashing that bilge. As for today's opponent, suffice it to say that the Broncos are a team of extremes. Their defense is extremely good, and their offense is extremely bad.

How good is the Broncos' defense? It's awesome. Denver has allowed only one touchdown this year. Only one team in NFL history (the 1934 Detroit Lions (0 TDs)) has done better than that through five games. The Broncos lead the NFL in red zone defense (8.3 TD pct.) and have allowed only 19 points (4.8 ppg.) in their last four games. Denver has not allowed more than one third-down conversion in the second half of any game this year. Their opponents have converted only 5-of-33 (15.2%) of their second half third-down attempts.

How bad is the Broncos' offense? It stinks. In terms of scoring, only Oakland's is worse. Denver has scored just 62 points, which is a mere 12 more points than the Raiders have managed to put on the board. Jake Plummer has thrown only three touchdown passes and five interceptions through the first five games of the season. His 63.1 passer rating ranks him 31st in the NFL. In case you're wondering, not only does Charlie Frye (67.5) have a higher passer rating than Plummer, but so does Joey Harrington (63.5). Check it out here.

All that defensive firepower and offensive ineptitude seems likely to make this one agony to sit through, but you never know. My guess is that the Browns will at least make this close, and if they get a turnover or two and another big week out of their special teams, they may have a shot at this game. Jay Novacek thinks so.

Me? Like I said, if I nod off, don't wake me. (Okay, wake me for the kick returns). I'll be wildly optimistic about the offensive potential of this matchup and double my first paragraph prediction of total offensive output. Broncos 10, Browns 6.

1 comment:

Erik said...

Part of me looks at this game and thinks the Broncos are in first place, so they should be able to win this game comfortably.

But part of me thinks the Browns might have found the closest thing in the league to their twins: all defense, no offense.

Of course, the biggest difference, as you pointed out, is that the Broncos' defense is great, and the Browns' defense, while showing signs of improvement, is still prone to giving up the big play.

Normally, I'd say that would be the deciding factor in the game, but can the Broncos' offense author a big play?

My guess, based on previous weeks, is that the Broncos will capitalize on Browns turnovers enough to at least eke out a touchdown. Other than that, the teams will exchange field goals.

10-0? 10-3? 13-6? This game and a glass of warm milk will put you right to sleep.