COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) – With the Cincinnati Bengals on their scheduled bye week, all Ohio eyes are on the Cleveland Browns, who are looking to build off their upset victory over the San Francisco 49ers.
Here are the keys to the game for Week 7:
Cleveland Browns (3-2) at Indianapolis Colts (3-3)
Sunday, Oct. 22 at Lucas Oil Stadium, 1 p.m. (CBS)
Back it up: The Browns are coming off a signature win against the previously undefeated 49ers, who nearly rallied to win had it not been for a missed 41-yard field goal by Jake Moody. The Browns also have their defense to thank for the ‘dub’, having limited the Niners to 215 total yards, and took advantage of injuries to Deebo Samuel and Christian McCaffrey.
Quarterback P.J. Walker, playing for injured Deshaun Watson, wasn’t spectacular – or very good for that matter (18-of-32, 192 yards, two interceptions) – but he didn’t cave in the fourth quarter when the game was on the line. Likewise, Jerome Ford rushed for 52 of his team-leading 84 yards in the fourth quarter to help set up back-to-back field goals.
Kareem Hunt added a solid veteran presence with 71 total yards and Amari Cooper logged in 108 yards receiving, but should Watson miss another game, the Browns will need unsung hero performances from the likes of Walker, Ford and the steady foot of Dustin Hopkins.
Three and out: Through six weeks, the average number of first downs allowed this season is 110.38. The Browns, incredibly, have allowed a league low 52, or 42 fewer than the next best team (Tampa Bay). In their victories this season, the Browns allowed six first downs to the Bengals (a 24-3 win) and six to the Titans (27-3). Last Sunday the Browns allowed 15, though eight of those first downs came in the second quarter, when the Niners scored just three points. With turnover prone Gardner Minshew under center for the Colts, the Browns have a chance to stifle another inferior offense.
Line: 2 1/2. O/U: 40.
Prediction: Feels like a trap game, but the Colts are equally depleted, if not more. Browns begin a stretch in which five of their next seven games are on the road with a 16-10 victory (23-10 if Watson plays).