Tom E. Curran's Patriots-Browns Preview/Review: Almost got the exacta!
PREVIEW: Bill Belichick chasing his 300th career coaching win with only Freddie Kitchens in his way. A true David vs. Goliath story, only in this instance, I have a feeling Goliath catches the rock, slowly opens his palm and after pondering the best use for it, decides to feed it to David. Slowly. The 2-4 Browns — with all their talent — cannot come in to Foxboro and just take it on Sunday. Can they do it? Lol. Especially on a sloppy, slippery day? Not gonna happen.
REVIEW: This was an easy read, no? Maybe the easiest. Halfway through the season, the quarterbacks the Patriots have dismantled on the way to 8-0 are getting all the attention. But the ineptitude of some of the coaches? Very underrated. Amazingly, this was the second-closest game the Patriots have had in 2019.
When the Patriots Ran
PREVIEW: The Patriots have had one half of decent production on the ground all season — the second half against the Redskins when they ran 20 times for 111 yards. That’s’ the only game the Patriots have averaged more than 3.5 yards per carry. It’s been a variety of issues and the blame is shared between the backs and the line. The Browns aren’t getting much from their easily maneuvered and influenced front-seven. But the Patriots have gotten even less from their rushing attack. Advantage: Push
REVIEW: It’s just not getting any better. Michel had runs of 11, 7 and 16 on the first two drives. Felt like maybe things were going to get started against a Browns run defense that was horrific the past three games. And he has 18 carries for 40 yards the rest of the way. They can’t run inside, they can’t run outside and it’s not the backs, it’s the blocking (even though Michel’s decisiveness has been a labor this season).The Patriots managed 79 yards on 27 carries and are 30th in the NFL in YPA (3.23). The Jets and Bengals are the only teams worse. The bottom 10 teams in the league in rushing have a combined record of 18-52. None of them have a winning record. Advantage: Browns
When the Patriots Passed
PREVIEW: Give me the Sanu Era I’ve been waiting on since 2012. The addition of a physical, shrewd slot guy that will complement Julian Edelman in a way that the other Patriots receivers cannot will make the Patriots offense on third down that much more effective. If not for Sanu, I’d have given this checkmark to Cleveland but I think he’s going to be the elixir for what’s ailed them at least in the air. Advantage: Patriots
REVIEW: The Patriots scored two touchdowns offensively. One came at the end of a two-play, 11-yard drive. The other at the end of a seven-play, 84-yard drive on which the Browns allowed James White to get loose for a 59-yard pickup on a third down screen pass. On third down and in the red zone, it’s still a labor. Mohamed Sanu wasn’t the elixir. And the pressure on Tom Brady resulted in three sacks and a pile of throwaways. The Patriots didn’t throw it with consistent effectiveness. Now there were some absolutely brilliant throws by Brady — 33 to Dorsett, 26 to Watson, 19 to Sanu, the second TD to Edelman and another long-gainer on the move, but overall, the passing game didn’t win. I do think, however, better days are ahead with Sanu and Watson. Advantage: Browns
When the Browns Ran
PREVIEW: Nick Chubb is having a terrific season on the ground, averaging 5.3 yards per carry. The Patriots defense has done a nice job bottling up most every back they’ve faced, though the stutter-stepping style of Le’Veon Bell did produce a less effective tackling day for the Patriots defense than we’d seen earlier in the year. Chubb is going to be a good test for a defense that’s allowed more than 60 yards rushing just three times in seven games. Advantage: Patriots
REVIEW: This could be the first time all season I’ve given the checkmark to an opponent against the Patriots defense. And while there’s a temptation to add qualifiers that Nick Chubb’s 20 carries and 131 yards were completely offset by his two fumbles, they weren’t. He got loose against them and broke tackles. Le’Veon Bell didn’t have a bad day against the Patriots defense the week prior for the Jets. Second-level tackling isn’t at the level the Patriots want it to be. Even though overall it’s still way better than average, it shows up a bit because everything else they are doing is so outstanding. The Browns had 22 for 159 on the ground. The Patriots will be tested in their tackling even more this week by the Ravens and Lamar Jackson. Advantage: Browns
When the Browns Passed
PREVIEW: The Patriots have been chewing up a succession of first- and second-year quarterbacks. Baker Mayfield would be the most satisfying trophy they could put on their wall because he clearly swallowed all the propaganda he’d been fed about how much of a winner and gunslinger he was. Surrounded by talented skill position players but the victim of bad protection and his own undisciplined style, the Patriots will clean up unless Mayfield fully commits to playing like not a moron. Advantage: Patriots
REVIEW: Baker Mayfield may have had the best day of any quarterback the Patriots faced this season. He ought to — he’s got more talent at the skill positions than any other QB New England’s faced — but he was not a disaster. Yes, I’m overlooking the shovel pass pick that got mucked up. In the first half, he was 11 for 14 for 80 yards and delivered a good ball to Damien Hilliard for a touchdown when he saw he had a mismatch with Dont'a Hightower. And he went 20 for 31 for 194 yards. But the Patriots still got to him for five sacks and kept the Browns good players bottled up. Cleveland was 3 for 12 on third down and 0 for 1 on fourth down. Advantage: Patriots
PREVIEW: Browns kicker Austin Seibert is having a solid season. He hasn’t missed a field goal attempt. Punter Jamie Gillan had dropped 16 of his 28 punts inside the opponents 20. Jarvis Landry is the lead punt returner. The Browns also have a productive kickoff returner Dontrell Hilliard, who’s averaging 24.8 yards per return. The Patriots haven’t been sharp on kickoff returns. Kicker Mike Nugent seems to have settled in pretty well and is making the kicks he’s expected to. Jake Bailey continues to have a terrific rookie year. This would be a draw but the Patriots' savvy and coaching give them the edge on a sloppy day. Advantage: Patriots
REVIEW: The return games were a draw. The punting game was a draw. The only place to measure the advantage was kicking. And Mike Nugent had one field goal blocked and another hooked into the lumberyard. Advantage: Browns
PREVIEW: Tony Corrente’s crew gets this game. He hasn’t had a Patriots regular-season game since the opener last year against the Texans. In each of the past three games, his crew has thrown at least 10 flags on one of the two participants. Not a fan.
REVIEW: Browns get flagged for 13 penalties and 85 yards. The Patriots took four for 32. A lot of the calls were easy ones since the Flinchy McFlinchingtons on Cleveland couldn’t get the snap count right.
The Line & Prediction
PREVIEW: Patriots favored by 12.5. Total is 43.5.
The Patriots are 5-2 against the spread. Just two of their seven games have gone over the total twice.
Patriots 27, Browns 10
REVIEW: Patriots cover. The game goes under. New England is 6-2 ATS and six of their games have gone under. Also, chaboy almost nailed the prediction.
Patriots 27, Browns 13
Week 1: Patriots 16, Steelers 13 (Actual: Patriots, 33-3)
Week 2: Patriots 30, Dolphins 0 (Actual: Patriots, 43-0)
Week 3: Patriots 20, Jets 6 (Actual: Patriots, 30-14)
Week 4: Patriots 19, Bills 13 (Actual: Patriots, 16-10)
Week 5: Patriots 30, Redskins 13 (Patriots, 33-7)
Week 6: Patriots 16, Giants 3 (Patriots, 35-14)
Week 7: Patriots 16, Jets 13 (Patriots, 27-13)