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Josh McCown: Broncos' defense 'as good as I've seen'

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He lit up a shattered Ravens secondary in Week 5, but Josh McCown knows the scenery will change when his Browns host Denver's top-ranked defense on Sunday.

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"They are as good as we've seen on tape this year, probably as good as I've seen in recent years," McCown said, per Cameron Wolfe of The Denver Post. "It's one of those weeks where you get the scouting report and you're trying to find the best place to attack, or the weakest link or whatever and there is just not one."

With 13 seasons under his belt, McCown has played for nine different teams and studied hundreds of opposing defensive schemes. He argued that Denver, though, is accomplishing things he's never seen before.

"If they lined up and rushed four, they could get home a lot of times because they're that good. Then, you add in the pressures and what they can do, and you certainly have your hands full," McCown said. "Obviously that adds some intensity, some focus to those film studies to make sure we're all over it."

On paper, this is a messy situation for the Browns. Cleveland has sputtered on the ground against lesser squads than Denver's fifth-ranked run-stopping machine.

Instead, the Browns have been surprisingly pass-happy, ranking 12th through the air, via Football Outsiders. Over the past three games, McCown has lit up teams for 316, 332 and 457 passing yards, but former Browns safety T.J. Ward -- now a Broncos Pro Bowler -- promised: "It's going to be a good day for us. ... Somebody is going to make a play, though, I can guarantee that."

Every game, all season

If that feels like a shot at the Browns, it isn't. Ward has seen Denver go eight games without allowing a 100-yard receiver, the longest streak in the league. The Broncos are also the first team since the '98 Seahawks to post 22 sacks and 14 takeaways over their first five games. In the second half alone, Denver's defense has scored as many touchdowns (3) as they've surrendered.

Watching game tape of Denver's pass rush, Browns coach Mike Pettine asked play-caller John DeFilippo: "'Is this the sack cut-up?' He goes, 'No, this is just a normal 11 personnel cut-up that we're watching,'" leading Pettine to say: "Not only do they sack the quarterback, they're hitting him, too, and that has an effect over time. We're aware of that."

So is McCown, saying: "They have done a great job of getting it out and whether it's stripping, whether it's intercepting. There's a reason why they're the number one defense in the league."

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