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Preparing for Peyton: Battered Browns try to concoct plan to stop Broncos' Manning

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    Denver Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning passes the ball during the first half of an NFL football game against the Baltimore Ravens in Baltimore, Sunday, Dec. 16, 2012. (AP Photo/Nick Wass)The Associated Press

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    Denver Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning reacts to a touchdown by running back Jacob Hester during the first half of an NFL football game against the Baltimore Ravens in Baltimore, Sunday, Dec. 16, 2012. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)The Associated Press

Stopping Peyton Manning is the Cleveland Browns' latest daunting goal.

With no playoff hopes and assured a losing season, the Browns (5-9) will try to halt Denver's nine-game winning streak. Facing the Broncos (11-3) with a depleted defense isn't the best way to do it.

A week ago, raw rookie Kirk Cousins shook off an early interception by Cleveland's T.J. Ward to lead Washington past the Browns in his first career start.

Now, Ward and replacement Tashaun Gipson are among several key defenders out with injuries. So coach Pat Shurmur, his job already in jeopardy, is preparing to face Manning — one of the most prolific passers in NFL history — with an even younger, inexperienced unit.