ENGLEWOOD — Having lost three in a row, the Broncos are 3-3 with a chance to bounce back on national television facing the Browns, who are also 3-3, on Thursday Night Football.
Both teams are relatively banged up, which should make for a possibly chaotic prime-time game. Here are three keys to a Broncos' victory:
Contain Myles Garrett
The Broncos currently rank third in the NFL in sacks allowed this season, giving up 19 through six games, including five last week against the Raiders. It's not going to get easier this week, facing one of the best pass rushers in the NFL, Myles Garrett.
Garrett currently leads in the NFL in sacks with eight and will likely be going up against tackles Garrett Bolles and Bobby Massie throughout Thursday night. The Broncos pass protection needs to be much improved Thursday or else Denver and quarterback Teddy Bridgewater — who will be limited with a foot injury — could be in for a long night.
"He’s a freak athlete. He’s a great football player, and he’s a great human being as well," Bridgewater said of Garrett. "When you combine those things, you can tell that he has a ton of passion when he plays the game. You can tell that he has a great feel for the guy he’s going against each week also. You can tell he’s prepared and that he studies them because when you watch him, he’s winning so many battles. He’s a guy that you’ve got to know where he is when you’re out there as a quarterback and when you’re game planning."
Win turnover battle
The Broncos have struggled in the turnover department that past three games, coming up with only one — a strip-sack against the Steelers. The offense has also become more turnover-prone, giving the ball away four times last week, with all four coming at the hands of Bridgewater who threw three interceptions and lost one fumble.
Facing the Browns' backup quarterback and third-string running back, the defense needs to get back to creating more takeaways this week, which in turn can provide the offense a spark it needs.
“Obviously it’s always critical, especially if you can create field position besides getting a stop," coach Vic Fangio said. "It’s something we emphasize and something we work on. We just have to do a better job of that. We’ve played some quarterbacks that don’t turn it over much per se throughout their career and we have to do a better job. No doubt about it.”
Pressure Case Keenum
With Baker Mayfield sidelined with a torn labrum, the Broncos will face Browns backup quarterback Case Keenum, who played in Denver in 2018. Keenum hasn't seen much action this season, having only three passing attempts through six games. But he'll likely be heavily relied upon, as the Browns are also down their top two running backs in Kareem Hunt and Nick Chubb.
The Broncos have been preparing this week for both quarterbacks.
"We have to do that every week," defensive coordinator Ed Donatell said. "Any time a quarterback, on any team, is listed as questionable — I don’t know what the deal is, but he’s fighting through an injury on a short week. He could come in the game and not last very long. You have to do your research on the next guy that would be coming in. We know him a little bit through his past, but we’ve gone back and gone through all his tape. We’re prepared if anything changes.”