The Odell Beckham Jr and Cam newton eras are definitely over for the Browns and Patriots, as the two teams continue their quest for postseason play.
- Week 10
- Sunday 14 November 2021
- Cleveland Browns vs. New England Patriots
- Gillette Stadium-Foxborough, Massachusetts
With both teams in the thick of the AFC playoffs race and holding a 5-4 record, this is a matchup that could have bigger implications than simply going up 6-4. The Patriots are considered favourites as they surf high on the wave of a three-game winning streak coming into the match. On the other hand, the Browns are not without a high of their own, after tearing apart the Cincinnati Bengals in a game where their offense showed a glimpse of what could be if they find their groove, hitting Cincinnati for 41 points. Initial betting odds have the Patriots at -2.5 but the eye test should tell you it is not that straight forward against the Browns.
Can Mac Jones thrive against the Browns’ zone defense?
It felt like the Patriots were saying “you can have him, it makes no difference”, as they steamrolled the Panthers last week before Cam Newton signed with them this week. Again, Bellichick’s faith in Mac Jones looked justified as the rookie threw for 139 yards and a touchdown. He did not have the best of games with an interception and two sacks, but his overall play as a starter has been solid.
The Patriots’ defense seems to be finding its form, allowing a stingy total of 43 points in their last three games but the key will be Mac Jones and how he will fare against Cleveland’s zone defense. If the rookie has had any outstanding success one can point to so far, it has been his completion against a zone defense, which is what the Browns have played 75% of the time this season. It turns out Jones is second in the league amongst quarterbacks against the scheme, with a 77% completion rate. If he can add some yards to his completion, the Patriots offense should be very productive.
The Patriots had 14 players listed as questionable, the most high profile on the list being Damien Harris and Rhamondre Stevenson, but no one has been ruled out yet.
The Patriots have been locking down teams on defense while putting up numbers. Without Nick Chubb, the Browns may not have much firepower to cause more trouble than the defense can handle.
How will the Browns overcome the absence of Chubb?
Odell Beckham Jr signed with the Rams just before the weekend and should be ready to go on Monday. However, the Browns may be in a pickle after that move, as their Running Backs Nick Chubb, Demetric Felton, and John Kelly will be out for the game. The Absence of Chubb will be a big miss but Myles Garrett has been playing mind boggling defense this season and this game could be his biggest yet. The DE is two sacks behind Reggie Camp’s single season record of 14. D’Ernest Johnson should start in place of Chubb. New England will have to figure out Cleveland’s ground game, who rank second in the league in rushing yards and are averaging 5.3 yards per attempt, the league high.
The Browns will be without Nick Chubb, who entered health and safety protocols on Saturday.
Myles Garrett will be a big factor in slowing down Jones, especially if the Browns decide to go zone on their defensive snaps. His presence should make Jones a little hasty.
Patriots and their opponents are a combined 44.9 points on average, a tad lower than the expected average for this game, 45.5. In a game with two big offensive teams, we may just blow past that
Cleveland is the underdog by 2.5 but have covered the spread as underdogs before this season. Predicted winners at -2.5, the Patriots are 3-3 for the season when favoured by 2.5 points or higher. Betway has the New England moneyline at -135, and the Patriots have won 66.7% of their games when favoured by the moneyline.