The Indianapolis Colts head back home after a rough outing in Jacksonville in which quarterback Gardner Minshew turned the ball over four times. That is the bad news. The worse news is that it certainly doesn’t get any easier as the Cleveland Browns come to town touting the league’s top defense.
Cleveland’s defense has established a historic pace through five games...the 1,002 yards allowed by the Browns are the fewest through five games since 1971, and the third fewest of all time.
The Browns are giving up 200.4 yards per game. That’s more than 60 yards per game less than the Ravens have allowed (260.8 per game) and far fewer than the third-place 49ers, at 278 yards per game.
The Browns also have held opponents to a league-low 23.1 percent success rate on third-down conversions. The Falcons are second at 31.3 percent.
Cleveland also has allowed only 52 first downs, or 10.4 per game. The second-place team, the Buccaneers, is at 94 — 18.8 per game.
While the sample size at five games leaves something to be desired, those stats are pretty remarkable especially when compared to the rest of the NFL. With Anthony Richardson out for the year, the explosive plays will be limited. Against the Browns, they may be non-existent.
Minshew is someone that is going to need long drives to put up six and isn’t normally one to make chunk plays. Going against a team that only surrenders ten first downs a game sounds daunting for this Colts team. They are going to have to lean on the defense to keep the score low and force turnovers for positive field position. Special teams will also be critical in this game to flip the field and convert points when the offense fails to cross the goal line. Oh, and protecting the football this game will be highly advised as well.