The Indianapolis Colts (3-1) and Cleveland Browns (3-1) are preparing for what should be an enticing matchup in Week 5 at FirstEnergy Stadium.
Both teams have won 3 straight games after dropping their openers.
The matchup will feature the NFL’s top rushing team (Cleveland averages 204.5 yards per game) against the league’s best overall defense.
Which team will move to 4-1 and extent their winning streak?
Let’s take a look at our writer’s bold predictions for this Sunday’s matchup.
Writer: Rocco Nuosci
The excitement over the possibility of going 4-1 this Sunday has had Cleveland Browns fans excited all week.
Will that excitement lead to victory or a momentum-halting defeat at the hands of the Indianapolis Colts?
A Step Up
Everything about this matchup for the Browns is a bit tougher than the previous three weeks. Cincinnati and Washington are both below average.
Dallas is a bit more talented than those two, but you would not know it based on their play this year.
The Colts come into this game with the number one rated defense in terms of points and yards allowed.
That means scoring may come at a premium this Sunday for Baker Mayfield and company.
"We truly believe we are the best defense going right now." — Colts' DE Justin Houston
▫️ 1st YPG allowed (236.3)
▫️ 1st points allowed (56)
▫️ 1st passing YPG (159.3)
▫️ 1st interceptions (7)
▫️ 1st opponent 3rd down% (31.3) pic.twitter.com/H2EgeaGgi4
— Indy SportsOne (@IndySportsOne) October 7, 2020
The Colts also hang onto the ball much better than the Browns previous two.
Philadelphia is the only team that turns the ball over more than Dallas and Washington.
Cleveland has forced eight turnovers over the course of the past two weeks.
They lead the league in takeaways per game over the past three weeks as well.
Indianapolis, however, is top-five in the league in ball control, averaging under a turnover per contest.
Those short, easy drives the Browns defense has created for the offense these past couple of weeks may not come as often, if at all this week.
Mayfield and the offense must sustain long drives and take care of the ball to put themselves in a winning position.
My Prediction: Browns 31, Colts 27
Writer: Jake Luppino
The Cleveland Browns are 3-1 for the time since 2001.
They will be facing an Indianapolis Colts team that, similarly to Cleveland, have won three straight.
Here is what will determine the outcome of this game.
Defense wins championships.
The Browns are a top 5 rushing defense, but are one the worst among the league against the pass.
The Colts are a top 5 rushing defense and have the best passing defense in the entire NFL.
They lead the league in interceptions with 7 and will look to add to that total this week against Baker Mayfield.
In the win against the Cowboys, Nick Chubb suffered an injury that will keep him sidelined for quite some time; he will be missed this Sunday.
Odell Beckham is coming off his best game as a Brown and I have a feeling that Baker is going to try and force too many passes to him that just simply aren’t there.
While the Colts struggle on offense, I do see their offensive line holding their own allowing a big game for rookie HB Johnathon Taylor.
The Colts will extend their win streak to 4 in a defensive battle, picking up the road victory over the Cleveland Browns.
My Prediction: Colts 24, Browns 17
Writer: Adam Lowenstein
These 3-1 AFC opponents have been performing well in 2020 for different reasons.
The Browns have been doing it on offense while the Colts have been making their strides on defense.
Cleveland has the fourth-most points scored in the league.
Nick Chubb, who unfortunately is now out, and Kareem Hunt have brought the rushing offense from the middle of the pack to the top of the league in 2020.
Last year, the Browns finished with the fourth-best yards per carry, but only had the 12th-most rushing yards and 15th-most rushing touchdowns.
In 2020, Kevin Stefanski is hoping to get a full season out of Hunt, as his team is leading the league in rushing yards, rushing touchdowns, and yards per rush.
D’Ernest Johnson will take on the change-of-pace role for the foreseeable future.
Meanwhile, Indianapolis enters Week 5 with the league’s best defense in most categories.
Interestingly, the Browns and Colts have almost identical records in their all-time meetings: the Colts lead the series, 17-16.
With these teams being pretty evenly matched, it seems that the squad that wins the turnover battle will win this game at FirstEnergy Stadium.
However, since the Browns are without Chubb, I am giving the Colts the edge.
My Prediction: Colts 24, Browns 23
Writer: Wendi Oliveros
If I thought the outcome of the Cowboys game was hard to predict, this week’s game against the Colts is even more difficult.
The Indianapolis Colts come to Cleveland with a great defense.
A defense that has been consistent, scored 2 TDs, and stopped the run game of its opponents.
The Browns’ run game is largely what has carried them to 3-1.
Nick Chubb is out, and Kareem Hunt is playing through injury.
Last week, D’Ernest Johnson was the next man up who delivered against the Cowboys.
But the Colts defense is better than the Cowboys.
What Browns Need To Do To Win:
1. Successfully run the ball.
2. Be clever with play calling.
3. Don’t give up the ball – no turnovers.
Really that’s the winning proposition for the Browns every week, and besides the Baltimore loss, they have been doing it well.
But as the opponents get more difficult (after the Colts, the Browns have Pittsburgh), the Browns need to execute better.
My keys to victory center around the offense, but the defense needs to play tighter too.
There should be no more near miracle 4th quarter comebacks by the opposing team.
In the end, I am riding high on the Browns bandwagon, but the game will be close.
My Prediction: Browns 20, Colts 17
Writer: Mark Bergin
The Browns and Colts each have three-game winning streaks headed into their Week 5 matchup.
The Colts’ defense has played well through the first quarter of the season.
In Week 4, the Colts held the Bears to 28 rushing yards and 11 points.
The Indianapolis defense is allowing only 3.6 yards per carry and 77 rushing yards per game (fourth-lowest in the NFL).
Plus, the Colts’ pass defense might be even better.
They have the lowest passer rating allowed (68.4) and allow the fewest passing yards per game (159.3).
However, the Colts have played one team in the top half of the NFL in scoring, which was the Vikings (16th).
The Browns’ rushing offense has carried the team to its best start since 2001, averaging 5.9 yards per carry and 204.5 yards per game
Both totals are best in the NFL.
Nick Chubb is out for a few weeks with a knee injury, running backs Kareem Hunt, D’Ernest Johnson and Dontrell Hilliard will have to pick up the slack along with the offensive line.
I’m curious to see what happens when the Colts stack the box and force the Browns to beat them through the air.
Can the Browns offense prove it is not one-dimensional?
The Browns are a 1-point underdog, making Sunday’s game pretty much a coin flip.
I think the Colts win a close one.
My Prediction: Colts 24, Browns 21
Writer: Ben Donahue
The Browns officially put the NFL (and this humble writer) on notice this past Sunday.
Heading into the game, Dallas was favored to win.
By the end of the game it was safe to declare the Cowboys dead and buried for 2020.
Cleveland put on an offensive display that included a bomb from Jarvis Landry and three scores by Odell Beckham Jr.
Odell Beckham Jr.’s return to superstardom would bring Browns offense to next level
Following three-touchdown day against Cowboys, now-healthy wideout says he has “not stopped being that” guy from earlier in career.@AkronJackson on @obj‘s huge game: https://t.co/HZ3Ivm76hr pic.twitter.com/CSvYhHAGpg
— The Athletic Cleveland / Columbus (@TheAthleticCLE) October 6, 2020
Even the defense looked great, up until they took their foot off the gas in the 4th quarter.
The win in Dallas put the Browns at 3-1 for the first time since 2001.
Looking ahead, it can be tempting to pencil in Cleveland for a playoff spot.
Let’s hold off on that, at least for now.
After all, that same Browns team that began 2001 at 3-1 ended the year 7-9.
Let’s hope that result doesn’t repeat itself this year.
This week the Indianapolis Colts come to town.
Indy will be one of the toughest opponents the Browns face this season.
After a surprising Week 1 loss at Jacksonville, the Colts have reeled off three straight.
Their defense has looked good and even their offense has shown flashes of talent.
On defense, Indy is ranked first in the NFL in yards and points allowed.
They also lead the league in yards per play (4.4), total yards (676), and interceptions (6).
However, their schedule so far hasn’t been difficult.
Their game this past weekend against Chicago was the only opponent they have faced with a winning record.
That meshes perfectly with the Browns.
Cleveland has three wins this season and has faced only one team with a winning record.
This will be an intriguing matchup to see which defense is for real.
Will OBJ, Kareem Hunt, and Jarvis Landry shine against the Colts defense?
How much will tight ends Austin Hooper and Harrison Bryant be used to open up the underneath game for Cleveland?
It’s not a stretch to believe the offensive weapons of the Browns will be too much for Indy.
On offense, the Colts have former Charger Phillip Rivers at quarterback.
Rivers has been decent, but at his age (38) he has become a game manager.
In 2020, he has thrown for only one touchdown each week and has accumulated three interceptions.
Rivers does not have the arm strength he used to and the Browns DBs can take advantage of his declining skills.
Rookie Jonathan Taylor leads the team in rushing with 250 yards.
Indy as a whole averages only 2.7 yards per carry.
Overall, the Colts rank 17th in the league in offensive points for.
If the Browns can get healthy, they should pick up win number four on Sunday.
Greedy Williams, Adrian Clayborn, Tae Davis, and Larry Ogunjobi are all questionable for this week.
It will also be interesting to see if the Browns replace safety Andrew Sendejo after another ineffective performance in Week 4.
I believe the Browns will overcome any injury setbacks and out play the Colts on both sides of the ball.
It will be close, but Cleveland ends the weekend at 4-1.
My Prediction: Browns 27, Colts 23
Writer: Pat Opperman
Baker Mayfield and the Cleveland Browns offense faces its stiffest test since their opening day loss.
The Indianapolis Colts defense ranks among the leaders in several categories.
Kareem Hunt will run with some success, and Mayfield can find some passing success if he is patient.
But it is the kind of defense that comes up with timely stops when they need them most.
Conversely, the Browns’ defensive weakness is still the deep pass.
But the Colts’ receiving corps is not exactly lighting things up downfield.
Philip Rivers is more likely to throw short and often than he is to open things up.
Indianapolis will try to run the ball a lot to make up for the substandard passing game.
It all adds up to a low-scoring affair, the type where the offense that makes the big play wins the game.
Even with Nick Chubb on the sideline, you have to like the Browns in a game like that.
Mistakes will prove costly, putting some urgency in Mayfield’s game.
He needs to stay in control and not force things as the defense keeps Cleveland in the game.
All that being said, Cody Parkey could be the hero against Indianapolis.
But it will be the cautious, game-managing performance of Mayfield that makes the difference.
My Prediction: Browns 19, Colts 16