After a very impressive victory last week against Detroit, the hometown boys will travel to Cleveland this week to take on the 2-3 Browns. The game will start at 1:00 in Cleveland, where it is expected to be partly cloudy with no rain and 12 mph winds. The Browns come into this game on a cold streak, losing their last two game and three of their last four. They are 1-2 at home so far this season, beating the Steelers but losing to the Chargers and Jets. Comparatively, the Patriots are 1-2 on the road but do come into this matchup on a game winning streak indicating they have a slight momentum advantage this week.
The Browns are currently 6th in the league in scoring averaging over 26 point per game behind a dynamic rushing attack between Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt who rank #1 in the league at 192.4 yards per game. Coincidently, the Browns are also one of the worst rush defenses in the league after giving the Chargers 223 yards and 2 scores on the ground.
This paints a pretty clear picture of how this game will be won or lost for either team, especially with both teams QB predicament. Neither team will bring out their QB1 on Sunday as the Patriots Mac Jones is still recovering from his high ankle sprain suffered in Week 3 and the Browns Deshaun Watson is still serving his suspension for another 6 weeks for his illicit actions with massage therapists while he was still in Houston. Instead, the Patriots will start Bailey Zappe for a second straight week after the rookie has posted decent stat lines in his 7 quarters of play this season. The Browns have had Jacoby Brissett starting under center for every game this year and has been adequate. He has 5 touchdowns and 3 interceptions in 5 games, throwing 1 interception in each loss the Browns have had this year, not boding well for their chances against the Patriots defense that averages over 1 interception per game.
For the Patriots offensively, their is a new key to victory. For the previous two weeks, we have said that the key point was to limit turnovers so this great defense can carry the team to victory and they have done a great job of this over the past two weeks, especially last Sunday versus the Lions. However, the running game of the Patriots burst on to the scene in a huge way as Rhamondre Stevenson went for 161 yards on the ground. Looking ahead to this week and the Patriots are facing an almost equally as bad defense in Cleveland and the weakness is too strong for a coach like Belichick to ignore.
This is a very winnable game for the Patriots even though they are a 2.5 point underdog. Most of that line is due to the Patriots being on the road starting with a 3rd string quarterback and to that point I have to say the oddsmakers are severely underestimating Zappe. In his two games played, Zappe has a 75% completion percentage and a 2:1 touchdown-to-interception ratio. Not to mention the Pats will employ a run heavy game plan to make the game easier for Zappe. For all my betting fans out there I like the moneyline pick for the Patriots at +122 and am considering the under 43.5 total as well.
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