By: Russ Goldman
The Patriots are back in action Sunday to face the Browns. Here are Five Things for you to look for in this match-up.
1. Can the Patriots get off to a fast start? The team has struggled for a few weeks now in the first half, and opponents have gotten up on them early.
I do think it is important to play from ahead in this game, because when you are playing a team that is 4-8, you need to give them no hope, and the best way to do that is score early.
I would be in favor of the “hurry up” offense early to set a good tempo that could lead to points. A fast start by the Patriots could really do damage to a Browns team that has struggled this season.
2. Can quarterback Tom Brady spread the ball around to his receivers? In seasons past, when Brady has just found the open receiver, the offense has been tough to stop. Last week, in the second half, Brady spread the ball around to several receivers, and the offense carved up the Texans.
Defenses key on Rob Gronkowski, which could lead to opportunities for other players, and we saw that last week against the Texans. On the touchdown reception to Shane Vereen, the Texans had three players covering Gronkowski. The more receivers Brady gets involved on Sunday, I think the better they will be on offense.
3. Can the Patriots get after the quarterback on defense? Right now it is unclear who will be the Browns quarterback, but regardless there is an opportunity to set the tone, and possibly force turnovers in this game. One of the best ways to cause turnovers is putting pressure on the quarterback.
4. Can the Patriots defense contain wide receiver Josh Gordon? Right now Gordon leads the Browns with 64 receptions, with 1249 yards, and seven touchdown receptions.
I am hopeful that cornerback Aqib Talib is healthy enough to cover Gordon one on one. You might want to regardless give him help to cover Gordon, as he might be one the player that can hurt you on the Browns offense.
5. Can the Patriots stop the run in this game on defense? I think this is very important for not just this game, as the Pats defense is really struggling to stop the run. Also, a great way for a team to stay in the game is to run the ball, and control the clock.
The Patriots are currently 31st in the NFL in rush defense, but the Browns are 28th in rush offense so something has to give. This game is a perfect opportunity to see if the Patriots can improve their abilities to stop the run.
If you just go by the records, this game should be a mismatch, but you still have to win the game on the field. I am expecting the Patriots to start fast, and take care of business on Sunday. I wouldn’t be surprised to see the Patriots win this game by three touchdowns.
If you are looking for more of an extensive preview of this game, please take a listen below to Patriots Fourth And Two.