By: Derek Havens
Sundays match-up between the Patriots & the Browns may not be a headliner around the NFL during the weekend but, don’t sleep on the Browns. You can ask Drew Brees and the New Orleans Saints if you do not believe me. Although they might be the most talented roster in the league, they compete with every team giving a strong effort in the process. I thought I would share some quick points to keep think about for the upcoming game.
- Take away what they do best – In Cleveland’s last seven wins, they threw for an average of just 91.4 yards. So how do they win? By forcing turnovers, playing good defense, and running the ball. Peyton Hillis has played exceptional this year, and with Mike Bell as well as James Davis in the mix, they have the talent to pound the rock. Taking away the running game and forcing the Browns to throw, would be a big advantage for the Patriots.
- Contain Josh Cribbs – If there is one weapon the Patriots need to contain during Sundays game in Cleveland, it would be Josh Cribbs. He is an explosive force that is a big play waiting to happen. He is electric on special teams, he can catch the ball, run the ball, and play wildcat QB at times. The Browns run an offensive package called “flash” led by Josh Cribbs himself. Essentially flash is a knock-off of the Dolphins “Wildcat” package. When he has the ball in his hands, be ready for anything.
- Get in Colt McCoy’s face – Colt McCoy may have experienced tremendous success throughout his college football career, but in the NFL, he has little experience. Even though the Browns offensive line is one of their strong points, they have a young center and rookie QB. By forcing more pressure in the center of the pocket the Patriots could have success.
- Be ready for anything and everything – Since the Browns have little talent on their roster, they have been known for opening up the playbook offensively. Whether its using the “Flash” package or fakes on special teams, the Patriots need to be ready for everything. If the Patriots let their guard down, they could get burned.
- Don’t take your foot off the gas – If the Patriots get off to an early lead, which I expect them too, I hope they keep the foot on the gas. Meaning I do not want them to relax and play prevent defense and conservative offense. They could get caught off guard easily with one of the Browns trick plays and the game could be much closer than anticipated. Beisdes, the Browns have had an extra week to prepare for the Patriots and are healthy coming off a bye week. The Patriots need to continue to play smart and disciplined football.
With all of these thoughts taken into consideration. I believe the Patriots can win this game on the road with ease. While I don’t believe it will be a blow out for the Patriots, they should have no problem winning by 14-point margin. My prediction is Patriots – 34, Browns – 20.