Pre-Game Meal: Patriots vs Browns

Patriots vs Browns

Who's afraid of the big, bad, Mangini?

NEPD Staff Writer – B. Delabarrera

“Prepare to be frustrated this Sunday” and “trap-game”, are the words that most people are whispering in regards to the New England Patriots’ visit to the Cleveland Browns Stadium. These 2-5 Browns, with question marks all over the offense, have mostly been following the path that Peyton Hillis has been paving for them.

The last time Cleveland was playing football was in the Superdome as they put the beat-down on Drew Brees and the New Orleans Saints. Is one win against the streaky Saints, a bye, and a mediocre head coach’s past employment history (twice-removed) all it takes these days to strike fear in the hearts of the team with the best record in the NFL? 

Having gone through as many quarterbacks as Randy Moss has teams this season, the Browns will place their faith in former Texas QB Colt McCoy for the thrid time.

Not to be inconsiderate of the rookie, but the only consistent threat on this team is their FB-turned-RB and forcing the football into McCoy’s hands will be the name of the game comes Sunday.

With “their coach” at the helm and a week of preparation under their belts, it won’t surprise anyone when Cleveland comes out of the gate hard with their heads down and a handful of wrinkles to throw at Coach Belichick and the Pats.

The Rookie vs. Patriots Secondary – In Colt McCoy’s defense, the coaching staff really hasn’t let him test that arm out yet. Dinky passes underneath and a ton of running for first downs is how the Browns offense will probably begin operating during the beginning of the game.

The rookie has been completing 65% of his passes for 335 yards, 1 TD, and 2 INTs. OLB’s Rob Ninkovich, Brandon Spikes, and Dane Fletcher will have to share duties keeping an eye on Hillis and guarding the flat to send the Orange offense off of the field.

McCourty should be able to contain his man since main threat Josh Cribbs may not see any time once again.

Former Patriot TE Ben Watson has been Colt’s best friend so far this season; he has been the best receiver on the team for that matter. Watson has 30 receptions for 336 yards and 2 TDs. Watson has burned defenses 5 times this season for receptions that went for over 20 yards.

Peyton the Plow vs. Vince Wilfork – What good is the best nose tackle in the NFL if the enemy doesn’t run up the gut? Trick question. The best NT also plays every other d-line position. Expect the trend of Wilfork experimenting on the outside to continue during week 9, shutting down runs to the outside is key to controlling Cleve-gini’s offense.

3rd-year back Hillis is averaging 4.4 YPC on pace for a 1,000-yard season with 5 scores already to his name. Peyton is more than just a punishing back, he’s also dangerous as a receiver in the flat with almost 200 yarsd and another touchdown that way.

Coincidentally, the flat is exactly where the Patriots’ defense have seemed to be most weak in recent games. The Browns love to run on 2nd-and-short and 3rd-and-short, and it will be up to Jerod Mayo and his linebacker corps to stack the box and stifle the run whenever they try to run in those situations.

Keeping Hillis’ average closer to the average that the Patriots usually allow (3.9 YPC) rather that his own (4.4) could be the driving force that will swing the game in New England’s favor. The Pats D has been quite clutch when their team has needed them to be this season though, and last year I never thought I would have ever been uttering those words in 2010.

Tom Terrific vs. Cleveland Secondary – With this pugnacious team and their head coach gunning for an upset, Tom Brady won’t be expecting a walk in the park either.

The return of Logan Mankins might not be during week 9, but the protection for Brady has been pretty decent this season. No rush necessary, refine Mankins’ skills for one more week so we can beef our line up against Pittsburgh.

While Tom hasn’t been the most flashy passer this season, he certainly has been helping his teammates unleash all those ‘chips’ he mentioned being on their shoulders and number 12 is coming out to win games. I’m sure he would love to have a few of his 4 interceptions this season back, but hindsight is 20-20 and when your team is 6-1 it’s hard to be super-critical.

The Browns’ CBs Eric Wright and Sheldon Brown will have difficulty containing speedster Brandon Tate and Wes Welker running wild as he love to do so often if Brady can get them in single-coverage situations.

Rookie free safety T.J. Ward, formerly of Oregon, will be focusing on TE Aaron Hernandez and if our rookie can beat theirs a few times and demand his attention, those single-converage situations will present themselves more often than not. Deion Branch is questionable with his hamstring issue

Know Their Names – Regardless of “what they would be on any other team”, Patriot RBs BenJarvus Green-Ellis and Danny Woodhead are contributing in highly-efficient ways week-in and week-out.

Whether it’s Woody out of the backfield or the Law Firm between the guard and the tackle, these two have been following the advice of their veteran leaders and it’s clearly paying out great dividends as the two have combined for 9 out of 20 offensive touchdowns (8 rushing, 1 passing) scored by the Pats this season.

Cleveland currently possesses the 19th-best, or 13th-worst rushing defense in the NFL, allowing an average of 113 rushing yards per game. The important stat to note here is that while this defense will happily allow their opposing backs to snag a century game, they are extremely stingy in the touchdown department. Only one rushing TD has been scored against Cleveland this season. Even though the Brown & Orange are without two defensive lineman Shaun Rogers and Keyon Coleman those defensive stats should end up translating into the ball ending up in Brady’s hands for red zone situations. Never say ‘never’ though.

The Wild Card – I’m giving the wild card spotlight this week to the DBs; specifically James Sanders and/or Devin McCourty. As Pat Chung will he nursing his knee injury, veteran James Sanders will come in and reclaim his old spot back for another afternoon. During the time that Sanders has been on the field this season, his energy has been contagious to other players and his plays have all been pretty smart.

Devin McCourty has recorded an interception in both of his last two starts – two presents from Phillip Rivers and Brett Favre. This is where I’d like to say that I told you all so. McCourty has been a success at corner, especially when compared with the CB that most fans wanted in the 2010 draft, Kyle Wilson the Jet. If Dev can pick off some of the leagues more prolific passers, what makes you think he won’t pull one of the former-Longhorn’s passes down on Sunday?

21-16 Patriots



2 Responses to “Pre-Game Meal: Patriots vs Browns”

  1. Matt says:

    the patriots are playing the worst ive ever seen them play

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