After a dominant Monday night win against the Jets, the Patriots are on a short week and host the Cleveland Browns on Sunday in Gillette Stadium. The Browns are fresh off of a week seven bye week and have had two weeks to prepare for the Patriots, so New England needs to act quick to put together a game plan to get a win against the Browns. The Browns are off to a rough start this year after an offseason of non-stop hype and praise for the star-studded roster they’ve put together. They have play-makers all over the field on both sides of the ball, but have struggled to get wins early in the season. They currently have a 2-4 record through their first six games and are looking to turn things around starting with a win in New England. So what do the Patriots need to do to stop that from happening?
In the Brady/Belichick era, the Patriots generally have had success against quarterbacks in their first or second seasons, especially when playing in Foxborough. Baker Mayfield had a very impressive rookie campaign last year, but has regressed since then. He has thrown 11 picks through his first six games, so the Patriots‘ defense should have opportunities to create turnovers. Mayfield has suffered due to a vulnerable offensive line, and New England’s zero blitz defense will surely be their toughest task yet. The one thing that has been consistent in the Browns’ offense is running back, Nick Chubb. The Patriots‘ defense needs to contain Chubb on first and second down to force Mayfield into third-and-long situations in which he is forced to put the ball in the air. The Browns offense is only as efficient as Nick Chubb. Due to their struggles up front, the Browns are not as much of a threat if they are forced to only throw the ball. If the Patriots‘ defense can contain Nick Chubb, Mayfield will turn the ball over. Belichick may be forced to play a little more conservative on defense due to the explosiveness of the Browns’ receivers. The tandem of Odell Beckham Jr and Jarvis Landry have potential to score on every play. If Belichick does decide to stick with man coverage, the secondary will need to be sure-tacklers this week. The Browns receivers are very fast and if they break one tackle, they’re gone.
On the other side of the ball, the Patriots need to focus on one man: Myles Garrett. The 6-4, 271 pound defensive end has been almost impossible to block this season. He will likely line up against Marshall Newhouse, who has struggled so far this year. When Tom Brady drops back, he will need to have a check down route on every play because Myles Garrett will be coming. Brady has done a good job of getting the ball out fast and avoiding big hits this season, but Garrett is putting together a season worthy of defensive player of the year votes. Brady will need to have eyes in the back of his head this week to avoid being hit by him. I expect James White to be a big part of the Patriots’ air attack this week out of the backfield. The Browns’ cornerback tandem of Greedy Williams and Denzel Ward are both expected to play this week and are very talented. Brady will be forced to look for underneath routes to avoid testing those guys.
Although the record says that the Browns are 2-4, the Patriots cannot take them lightly. They have talent on that team and just need to find their groove. They got their bye week at the perfect point in the season, after a disappointing loss to Seattle and just before they play the defending Suer Bowl champs. They are a team that will ride high on momentum and just need one game to turn things around for them, so New England cannot let that be this week. The Patriots just need to avoid the big play on defense that allows the Browns to catch fire. I believe the Patriots win 27-10.
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