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".
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.
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.
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.
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".
Betting Line: Patriots -10.5
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 fans...at least the Tribe plays at 4pm.