The Cleveland Browns need a great performance from quarterback Baker Mayfield if they're going to leave Gillette Stadium on Sunday with an upset win over the undefeated New England Patriots.
The Patriots have the best defense in the NFL entering Week 8. This defense is giving up the fewest yards per game, the second-fewest pass yards per game and the fewest points scored per game. New England's defense also leads the league takeaways, including 18 interceptions. No other team has more than nine interceptions.
The Patriots have the most talented and deepest secondary in the league, and this unit presents a difficult matchup for Mayfield. The Browns quarterback's struggles are a major reason why Cleveland has a disappointing 2-4 record. He's completing just 56.6 percent of his passes with a league-leading 11 interceptions.
"I think (Mayfield) would be the first to tell you it's not good enough," Browns head coach Freddie Kitchens told reporters on a conference call Wednesday.
Despite Mayfield's struggles, Patriots head coach Bill Belichick still had plenty of good things to say Wednesday about the young quarterback's skill set, including his ability to make plays by escaping the pocket and running the football.
"Smart player, good control of things at the line of scrimmage," Belichick said of Mayfield. "Good arm, can make all the throws, moves the ball down the field with a good touch. He can extend plays -- scrambled for a touchdown against Seattle (in Week 6). He can hurt you running the ball. I wouldn't say he runs all the time, but he can extend plays with his legs, with his athleticism and make all the throws down the field, throws well on the run."
Mayfield will be the fourth quarterback from the 2018 draft class the Patriots have faced this season. They'll face another in Week 9 against Baltimore Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson. The first three 2018 quarterback draft picks to play the Pats in 2019 -- Josh Rosen, Josh Allen and Sam Darnold -- have thrown a combined eight interceptions versus the New England defense.
The Patriots have won 20 consecutive games against first- or second-year quarterbacks, in addition to a 19-game win streak at home (including the playoffs). Mayfield has a lot to overcome Sunday, and it's very difficult to envision the Browns winning unless he gives one of the best performances of his career.
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