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INDIANAPOLISThe Colts are back on the road in Week Five, taking on the Browns in a matchup that might be the NFL’s best game in Week Five.

After both teams lost their season openers, the Colts and Browns have now each won three in a row.

Here are 7 things to watch for as the Colts (3-1) take on the Browns (3-1) in a 4:25 PM kickoff:

1. Blocking Myles Garrett

With or without Anthony Castonzo, it would be a challenge in blocking the former No. 1 overall pick, who also leads the NFL in sacks through the first quarter of the season.

But with Castonzo OUT for Sunday, the Colts might are down their most important player.

The ramifications of that are immense.

Le’Raven Clark, who didn’t play an offensive snap in the NFL last season will be called upon to start. Offering help to Clark with an extra tight end or running back to try and quiet Garett is wise, but that will obviously take away a skill player from an offense struggling situationally. Not a good situation at all.

2. Run Defense Challenge

Cleveland won’t have top back Nick Chubb on Sunday, but that doesn’t lessen the run game challenge that much.

Through the first four games this season, the Browns have been the NFL’s top rushing attack and will bring one of the league’s most improved offensive lines into this weekend’s matchup.

Backup Kareem Hunt is averaging 5.5 rushing yards per carry. Cleveland is averaging more than 30 points per game because of the foundation that their run game has provided Baker Mayfield and the offense.

3. Cap Those Drives

The Colts know they’ve been playing with fire in settling for so many short field goals this season.

Against a much more high-powered offensive attack this Sunday, the Colts know they can’t afford to trot out Rodrigo Blankenship that often.

This matchup has the makings of a more shootout-type feel compared to what the Colts have played this season, so flipping the script in the red zone would be huge.

4. Not Letting The Explosive Plays

One of the major goals for the Colts defense is limiting big plays.

They’ve been really good there in 2020, to go along with all the other impressive numbers this season.

With what the Browns have at the skill group, it becomes even more important to force Cleveland into covering long drives, and not giving up the major chunk, like Dallas did far too often in last week’s loss.

5. Better Run Blocking

It’s probably the biggest surprise—in a negative way—from the first quarter of the Colts’ season.

The run blocking has not been good enough, and that’s a dangerous slope for the Colts to go down having yet to play any high-level run defense.

With how the Colts offensive line is built, that group is supposed to control the game and be a dominant unit, in both protection, and on the ground. It’s the latter that hasn’t been there enough in 2020.

6. Linebacker Injuries

Already with one linebacker on injured reserve (Matthew Adams), the Colts had half of their remaining LBs miss some practice time this week.

That includes Darius Leonard (who is OUT due to a groin injury), Anthony Walker (ankle) and Bobby Okereke (thumb), who has emerged to play more snaps than Walker this season.

Many believe linebacker is the deepest position group on the Colts roster. That depth could be tested in a major way this weekend.

7. Windy Weather Philip Rivers

Is this something to watch?

Rivers struggled with his accuracy last weekend, playing outdoors in Chicago. Some windier conditions are expected again this Sunday in Cleveland.

Will that impact Rivers, who missed some pretty routine throws last week in completing a season-low 55.2 percent of his passes?

 

Bowen’s Prediction: Browns 27-24. As the injury situation for the Colts has played out over the past few days, the line in Vegas has headed closer and closer to a ‘pick em’ after Indianapolis was favored by around 2-3 points earlier in the week. Those injuries are too much for me to pick the Colts for yet another week. The Browns offer the stiffest test from an offensive standpoint for the Colts this season. I see the Indy defense cracking a bit. But the bigger worry is how the Colts will be able to handle Myles Garrett, sans Anthony Castonzo, and staying away from those game-changing plays that can come from him off the edge. I think one of those will occur and that’ll be the difference in a really competitive game between two teams having real January aspirations.