Their records might not be impressive, but the Broncos and Browns will battle for their playoff lives in front of a national audience this Saturday night.
Denver was talking about running the table with a remaining schedule ranked among the easiest in the league, and certainly easier than what they faced over the first 12 weeks.
But the 49ers weren’t about to lie down and take the first overall draft pick. Denver fell behind early to a pack of third-string and first-time starters.
Denver couldn’t get anything going with their own young offense. By the time the defense woke up and shut the 49ers down, the Broncos were too far behind to come back.
Baker Mayfield brought another young offense back against the Carolina Panthers. Cleveland’s playoff hopes remain alive, even if they are not very realistic.
Should they lose to the Broncos, a win by any of the four 7-6 teams fighting for the second AFC wild-card would assure the Browns of an early offseason? Even with a win, tiebreakers could let two of the teams push Cleveland out of the race.
But this is the new Cleveland Browns. Without Hue Jackson bringing the locker room down, they have faith in miracles and themselves.
Injuries and notes
Case Keenum might catch a break as cornerback Denzel Ward (concussion) did not practice as of Wednesday and is leaning toward the doubtful side of questionable.
Another Browns cornerback, Phillip Gaines will probably take the field with a sore knee. Defensive tackle Larry Ogunjobi (biceps) also missed practice all week.
Denver wide receiver Courtland Sutton was out-touched by fellow rookie DaeSean Hamilton last week. Sutton was hobbled all week by a quad injury and is questionable for Week 15.
Tight end MattLaCosse is questionable with a shoulder injury.
Just when you though Vance Joseph saved his job, the Broncos come out with a dud against the 49ers. Denver’s playoff chances took a serious hit with the loss as they are a game behind the pack fighting for the last wild card. Failing to capture a postseason berth means Joseph’s questionable decisions earlier this season will play a more prominent role in GM John Elway’s decision process.
Cleveland might not have to make the playoffs to put interim coach Gregg Williams’ name prominently into the equation. Freddie Kitchens’ job would seem secure, too. However, the talent and history of the Browns make their head coaching position a popular one. There should be some prominent candidates for the Haslam family to consider.
How to watch the Broncos-Browns game
This week’s Saturday Night game is an exclusive presentation of the NFL Network. That means if you are among the millions of fans whose expensive cable or satellite package doesn’t include NFL-N, you might think you’re out of luck.
But that’s not true! You can still watch the Broncos-Browns game on your favorite Internet-connected device thanks to DirecTV Now.
DirecTV Now is a leading internet television provider. Like Sling TV and Fubo TV, they offer all the local and national networks you need to follow your favorite NFL team.
And get this- you can watch the live stream Broncos-Browns action for free by signing up for a no-obligation trial from DirecTV Now, Fubo TV or Sling right now!
After the game, use the rest of your trial to see all the movie and entertainment networks included in the low price of a contract-free monthly subscription. Then you’ll understand why so many NFL fans already cut the cord with cable and satellite.
Read More: NFL Week 16 Game Preview: Bengals at Browns
Who will win the Broncos-Browns game?
Denver has been wildly inconsistent all season, even playing .500 ball at home. The Browns are only 1-5 on the road. Both teams need this game to stay remotely alive in the playoff hunt.
But only one team is playing with emotion like they believe they have a chance.