Blake Freeland / Bernhard Raimann vs. Myles Garrett
The health of Gardner Minshew depends a lot on whether Braden Smith will be ready to suit up against the Browns. Freeland has been unspectacular so far, as is to be expected from a rookie, but there will be no place for mistakes going against an edge rusher like Myles Garrett. This guy is a monster, by far the most efficient pass-rusher in the NFL, and with a hate so deep for quarterbacks I have not seen since Robert Mathis. On the other hand, this will be a nice test for Raimann, a week after having to face Josh Allen and holding up nicely.
Gardner Minshew vs. a top 5 defense ready to exploit his weaknesses
Last week was ugly, and the Browns’ defense is even better than the Jaguars. Cleveland will also have the benefit of a full week and film study to prepare for facing the Colts’ offense led by Gardner Minshew. Now we will see if last week was just a mirage or if that type of offensive production will be the norm from now on until the season ends.
Samson Ebukam / Kwity Paye vs. Browns’ tackles
If there is one area where the Browns have not been quite good, is pass protection from the outside. Wills Jr. and Dawand Jones are definitely talented, but they have had their fair share of struggles here and there, which could be exploited by Samson Ebukam and Kwity Paye. I am kind of running out of patience with Paye, as now in his third season in the NFL I expect him to have consistent impact during games.
Julius Brents / Jaylon Jones vs. Amari Cooper
No secret here, the Colts struggle to cover opposing #1 receivers. Brents and Jones are definitely talented and could be the franchise’s cornerbacks for the foreseeable future, but rookie cornerbacks make plenty of mistakes (look no further than last week allowing the wide open touchdown to Christian Kirk or the miscommunication that allowed the Rams’ game-winning score). Amari Cooper is among the most consistent wide receivers in the NFL, and he could be a handful against the Colts’ young corners come Sunday.
Jonathan Taylor / Zack Moss vs. Browns’ run defense / Shane Steichen
In Taylor and Moss the Colts have a top 3 running back duo in the NFL, especially with Taylor getting back up to playing form. Last week against Jacksonville the Colts abandoned the running game way too early in my opinion, as the Jaguars were hell bent on stopping it. The Browns will surely try to roll out a similar gameplan, and their run defense is among the best in the NFL. Colts’ head-coach Shane Steichen will need to devise a gameplan that does not end with Minshew over 55 passing attempts, and he will need a proper run game to accomplish that.