The New England Patriots’ clash against the Cleveland Browns is widely regarded as one of the must-watch games of the Week 10 slate.
In regard to the Patriots, they’re riding a three-game winning streak and are firmly entrenched in the AFC playoff picture. The Browns, meanwhile, got back on track Sunday by dismantling the Bengals by 25 points on the road.
It’s easy to see why the team’s upcoming matchup is already drawing so much intrigue. During a weekend where so many of the league’s heavyweights turned in duds, the Patriots and Browns handled their business.
Unfortunately for the NFL, Sunday’s showdown between the two up-and-coming AFC squads is in danger of losing a chunk of its charm.
On Tuesday, Browns running backs Nick Chubb (!) and Demetric Felton tested positive for COVID-19, putting their status for the game in serious question. Both players are vaccinated, so they’ll need two negative tests 24 hours apart to play.
The Patriots could catch a huge break before their Week 10 showdown against the Browns.
We obviously never root for injuries or positive COVID-19 tests, but the Patriots would catch a monster break if Chubb is unable to play.
The star RB returned from injured reserve in Week 8 vs Pittsburgh and didn’t find much success in that defensive slugfest. However, he looked healthy as can be this past Sunday in Cleveland’s rout of Cincinnati, taking 14 carries for 137 yards (9.8 YPC) and two touchdowns. The performance marked his sixth game (in seven) with over 80 rushing yards and third with 100 or more yards on the ground.
With Kareem Hunt on IR with a calf issue and Baker Mayfield playing through a fracture in his non-throwing shoulder, Chubb has been the heart and soul of the Browns’ offense since his return from injury.
With all that being said, though, the Patriots can’t take the Browns lightly if Chubb is unable to go. Per NFL Network insider Tom Pelissero, third-stringer D’Ernest Johnson managed to avoid a positive test.
If you remember, Johnson torched the Broncos for 146 rushing yards and a touchdown in his first career start back in Week 7 filling in for the injured Chubb and Hunt. The 25-year-old looked like a natural working behind the Browns’ offensive line. In other words, he’s more than capable of taking over a game.
Then again, he’s no Chubb and Bill Belichick has this defense humming.
We’ve seen the Browns overcome adversity under Kevin Stefanski in the past, but Chubb’s potential absence would give the Patriots, who’ll be playing in front of the Gillette Stadium faithful on Sunday, a distinct advantage.