Friday, October 7, 2016

Browns Preview 10.7.16: New England Patriots @ Cleveland Browns

By Katelin Marshall, @KatelinKnowsCLE

The 3-1 New England Patriots travels to Cleveland to take on the 0-4 Browns. Both teams lost last week. The Patriots lost 16-0 to the Buffalo Bills at home. The Browns lost to the Redskins 31-20 in Washington. This week marks the return of Tom Brady, who was serving a four game suspension for "Deflate Gate".

Browns Offense vs Patriots Defense

The Browns running game is ranked first in the league with 142 yards per game. So we should expect the Browns to continue to run the ball since the Patriots are giving up 100 yards per game on the ground this year. Isaiah Crowell and Duke Johnson should get 30 carries between the two. The Browns need to control the time of possession. Like last week, the Bills ran for 134 yards on 32 carries but most importantly they controlled the ball for 36 mins.

The passing game with Kessler should continue to do what they do. A lot of slant routes with Terrelle Pryor, check downs passes to Duke Johnson, and find his "ole' reliable" target Gary Barnidge. The Patriots are going to bring presser at times and stack the box, so expect more passes down field. Kessler is getting more comfortable in the NFL and its his first home start of his young career, so Hue Jackson might bring out all the stops to upset the Patriots.

The last key for the Browns to win is to continue to convert on third down. Last week the Browns were 8/12 on third down and they have a 42% conversion percentage this year, which ranks 13th in the NFL. Converting third downs help the time of possession and obviously helps the Browns get into scoring position.

*Note John Greco is the starting center this week, Alvin Bailey is projected to start at right guard this week.

Browns Defense vs Patriots Offense

Tom Brady is back. Rob Gronkowski is close to 100%. And LeGarrette Blount is third in rushing yards just behind Isaiah Crowell.

Tom Brady is a question mark this week. Everyone expects him to throw for 500 yards and 4 touchdowns, but he hasn't played since the preseason. The Browns need to get pressure to Brady and knock him down so he doesn't get into a rhythm early. But Brady has all of his offense weapons this week: Gronk, Julian Edelman, and Martellus Bennett. This might be one of those games where the Browns need to force the Pats to run the ball.

LeGarrette Blount is a top rusher in the NFL and he's also one of the biggest backs in the league. Blount should get a ton of touches so the Pats can ease Brady into the game. Blount is averaging four yards per carry and he has four touchdowns. James White is the pass catching back for the Pats. White has 13 catches this year and is a really good change of pace back to spell Blount.

The Browns need to force the ground game and get pressure to Tom Brady. The Browns are going to have to pick their spots like always because of the youth of the defense.

Five Guys to Watch

Isaiah Crowell: Crowell should get an increase in carries this week. If he can go for at least 80 yards against the Patriots defense, when they know the run is coming, Crowell should be in the discussion as one of the better backs in the league. And like stated before, Crowell's success this week should keep the Browns in this game.

Gary Barnidge: Barnidge has caught 16/18 passes to him this year. This week he should get a ton of targets and have a breakout game this week since the Pats will try to take away the running game and Terrelle Pryor.
Carl Nassib (Hopefully): Nassib was back to practice this week. He is still questionable for this week but if Nassib can play limited snaps he will really help the pass rush with Ogbah and Cam Johnson.

Derrick Kindred: Kindred will be matched up against Gronk or Bennett. It could be a long day for him. But as long as he does his job Kendred shouldn't be exposed to badly this week. This match up personifies the term "tryout year".

Joe Haden: Haden will be up against Edelman this week. Haden has to lock down the lake this week and help force an interception. Haden will be up against not just Edelman but the tight ends too while in the redzone. As the superstar player on defense Haden needs to step up against the elite playmakers of the Patriots.

Injury Report 
Weather Report
Betting Line: Patriots -10.5

Prediction: Patriots 34 - Browns 21

This game can go either way. But expect the Browns to lose and the Patriots to cover the spread late. The Browns will play well like the first four weeks but they just can't pull it out. Another morale win for the Browns but another frustrating game to watch for the least the Tribe plays at 4pm.

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