NFL Week 5 Preview: Patriots vs. Browns
It may sound crazy, but the Cleveland Browns might be the best 0-4 team I've ever seen. Is it even possible to lead the league in rushing when you're 0-4? On paper, the Browns actually have a solid roster. Joe Thomas and Joel Bitonio are two of the best at their respective positions, with Thomas probably being THE best. Isaiah Crowell is 3rd in the league in rushing, and if the Arizona Cardinals didn’t have an extra game under their belt, which was played on Thursday night, he would likely be 2nd. Gary Barnidge is one of the better TE's in the league, though he doesn’t have the same production so far this year as he had last year. Terrelle Pryor is one of the better stories in the league and seems to have finally found his calling as a WR. And they still have one of my favorite players in the league, Joe Haden, as their #1 CB. But despite all those positives, Cleveland still finds themselves in a familiar position: at the bottom of the rankings.
I feel bad for my guy Hue Jax. They looked like they were onto something with RG3, and then the inevitable happened. Sometimes I think about what it would be like to be a Browns fan as opposed to a Pats fan, and then I quickly wake up from that nightmare. It's not like they've had a lack of talent on their team, it just never seems to work out in Cleveland for some reason. TJ Ward left and started for a Super Bowl winning defense in Denver. Jabaal Sheard joined the Patriots and has become their most talented pass rusher. And we all know what happened with Johnny Football and Josh Gordon. Side note-- I've long hoped that the Browns would either trade Josh Gordon to the Patriots or release him and he signs with us. Brady would go back to putting up Moss-like numbers if he had a true #1 wideout who could go up and get it. Bill is pretty lenient with players who love green as well; he has a track record of rolling the dice on smokers and making it work out. But that's just me dreaming…
We all know the main storyline for this game, but I still want to shout it from the top of a mountain. Brady is back. We have no idea how he's going to look coming out of the gates, but I can guarantee you we won't be seeing as heavy a dose of Blount as we've been seeing in recent weeks. The Browns will have to deal with an offense that they have literally zero game film on, because this will be the first time (including preseason) that the entire starting offense for New England will be on the field together. Fear not Gronk fantasy owners, you will no longer see your first round pick blocking for 85% percent of his snaps, 87 will be turnt. The other major beneficiaries from Brady's return will be Edelman, Hogan, and our entire defense. I'd probably say the only person's production who might take a dip would be Martellus Bennett, and that's only because I still have to see their on-field chemistry before I can make a judgment. But I expect Brady to come out picturing all 11 defenders wearing Goodell masks as his revenge tour commences.
Bill will only care about one thing on defense and that's stopping the run. After watching Shady have a huge game on the ground against us last week, he's not going to let the #1 rushing attack in the league do exactly what they want to do. Hightower and Collins need to have a much better game than they had last week; because for a team that averages 7 missed tackles a game, they can't afford to do that against Crowell whose average yards per carry is tops in the league. I'm willing to bet that Belichick's message to the team this week is to not assume that Brady coming back means we're going to roll over the Browns, or any other opponent for that matter. But still, I think we win this one fairly easily.