The Cleveland Browns return home to host the Indianapolis Colts on Sunday in a matchup of 3-1 teams. Both teams are riding three-game winning streaks entering week five of the NFL season. The Browns are coming off their second straight double-digit win over an NFC East opponent, beating the Dallas Cowboys by a score of 49-38 last Sunday, while the Colts were 19-11 winners over the Chicago Bears last week.
The Browns have covered the spread in each of their last two games, improving their record against the spread to 2-2 this season. They were 3.5-point favorites in their win against the Cowboys. The total has gone over in Cleveland’s last three games after going under in week one. The Colts, who were 3.5-point favorites against the Bears, have covered the spread in each of their last three games after losing by seven points as a seven-point favorite in week one. The total has gone under in their last three games after going over in their first game.
Colts defense taking center stage in 2020The Indianapolis Colts, who lost five of their last six games last season and limped to a 7-9 record, were in need of a spark this season to get back on the winning track. Enter future Hall of Famer Philip Rivers, who spent his whole career with the San Diego/Los Angeles Chargers before this season. It has been the defense, however, that has the Colts near the top of the AFC South this season. They are number one in the NFL in points allowed at just 14 points per game, and they have given up no more than 11 in each of their last three games, their first such three-game stretch since 2013. The Colts defense is also number one in yards (236.3 per game) and passing yards (159.3 per game) given up, as well as fourth in rushing yards (77.0 per game) given up per game. The 28 yards that they allowed to the Bears last Sunday was the fewest that they have given up since 2009.
“I don't want to sound crazy, but I did see this coming," coach Frank Reich said on espn.com about his defense. "I've been so fired up about the defense from Day One. The way we looked in camp, I look at our personnel, I look at our coaches, look at our schemes on defense how they fit our players. I've spoken about our defense since Day One. I felt like it was going to be real good."
Rivers threw for just 190 yards, his lowest total since January 6, 2019 in the Divisional Round of the playoffs at the end of the 2018 season, but it was enough for the Colts to secure the eight-point win. Indianapolis led 19-3 late in the game before the Bears scored with under two minutes to play to make the final score closer. Jonathan Taylor led the Colts running attack with 68 yards on 17 carries, while T.Y. Hilton (29 yards), Zach Pascal (58 yards), and Nyheim Hines (eight yards) had three catches apiece. Julian Blackmon got his first interception of the season, while Anthony Walker had 11 tackles (nine solo).
The Colts are averaging 25.8 points per game through the first four games. They are averaging over 100 yards per game more than their opponents, 365.5-252.8. Rivers has completed 72.7% of his passes this season for 984 yards, four touchdowns, and three interceptions. With running back Marlon Mack on the IR, Taylor has had to shoulder most of the load on the ground this season, rushing for 250 yards and two touchdowns. He is averaging just 3.8 yards per carry. Rivers has spread the ball around a lot this season, completing passes to 14 different receivers. Hines leads the group with 16 receptions, while Mo Alie-Cox leads the team with 194 yards receiving. The Indianapolis defense has a +4 turnover ratio this season, as they have intercepted seven passes.
Browns keep winning in impressive fashionThe Cleveland Browns opened the season with a 38-6 loss to the Baltimore Ravens, and it looked like the same old Browns, however the Browns have not played anything like the Browns of old over the last three games. They have scored 35, 34, and 49 points in their last three games, and they have the best rushing attack in the NFL, bringing back memories of when Kevin Mack and Earnest Byner roamed the backfield for the Browns three decades ago. Cleveland leads the league with 818 yards on the ground this season, and 5.88 yards per carry.
The Browns used a 24-point second quarter to catapult themselves to the big win over the Cowboys on Sunday. They led 41-14 at the end of three quarters before Dallas staged a furious comeback to cut the lead to three points before a 50-yard touchdown run by wide receiver Odell Beckham, Jr. put the game away. The Browns lost running back Nick Chubb early in the game, but they didn’t miss a beat. D’Ernest Johnson (95 yards), Beckham (73 yards), and Kareem Hunt (71 yards) picked up the slack as the Browns ended the game with 307 yards rushing, their highest total in 11 years. Cleveland gave up 566 yards to the Cowboys, including 481 yards passing.
“No, and I don't really care," QB Baker Mayfield said on espn.com when asked if he knew it had been 19 years since Cleveland won three of its first four games. "It's 2020 and we're moving on to the next one."
Baker Mayfield, who threw for 165 yards and two touchdowns against the Cowboys, has completed 62.6% of his passes this season with seven touchdowns and just two interceptions. Hunt is averaging 5.5 yards per carry this season, as he has rushed for 275 yards. Jarvis Landry (17 catches, 191 yards) and Beckham, Jr. (16 catches, 236 yards) lead the receiving corps this season. Cleveland is averaging 31.0 points per game, while they are giving up 31.5 points per game. The Browns have forced 10 turnovers this season and have a +6 turnover ratio