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Take the Browns to Cower the Spread -1.5 (-122)
There is no better way to get Cleveland quarterback Baker Mayfield to excel on the field than to doubt him off the field the way receiver Odell Beckham Jr. did while leaving the Browns due to lack of targets, and right after they pummeled the favored Bengals in the Battle of Ohio, 41-16, but now they must face the Patriots with RBs Nick Chubb and Demetric Felton on the Covid list.
Last week, New England Patriots quarterback Mac Jones led his team past the Carolina Panthers, 24-6, as the rookie continues to adjust to the NFL with the help of GOAT coach Bill Belichick, though the Pats’ offensive line has allowed Jones to be sacked 17 times this season, weak protection that might be big trouble against this talented Cleveland defensive line.
These two AFC rivals have played each other 25 prior times (including 1 postseason game), with the New England Patriots winning 12 of those games and the Cleveland Browns winning 13 of the games.
When the Browns are playing at their best and winning, they are running the ball with Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt, then using play-action to hit the open receivers with some screen passes sprinkled in to take advantage of their stellar offensive line.
It’s a game plan developed and called by head coach Kevin Stefanski, last season’s NFL Coach of the Year, and it relies on timing and playmakers being open where they are supposed to be on the field, one of the main issues the team had with freewheeling receiver Odell Beckham Jr.
But now with Kareem Hunt (calf) still out and with RBs Nick Chubb and Demetric Felton having tested positive for COVID-19, both vaccinated players are listed as questionable for Sunday’s game, with each needing two negative tests 24 hours apart in order to suit up, leaving D’Ernest Johnson as the only healthy Browns back.
Nobody is exactly sure why, but the New England Patriots have lost four of their last five home games at Gillette Stadium, an odd stat considering their prior record of success there and how boisterous and supportive those Foxboro fans tend to be..
Now this 5-4 Bill Belichick team faces another 5-4 team in the Browns, both desperate to win and stay relevant in their respective divisions, so New England will no doubt be counting on some hometown noise while Cleveland’s defense takes the field.
At Gillette Stadium all time, the Patriots are 127-30-0 in the regular season and in the playoffs they are 19-4, so don’t count on their current losing streak to last too many games longer.
Now that OBJ is gone, the Cleveland Browns need an experienced deep threat receiver, and that job could go to second-year man Donovan Peoples-Jones, a Michigan alum who has the speed and power to get open and earn yards after the catch as well as grab the deep ball.
Already in just seven outings, Peoples-Jones has outproduced his 12-game rookie season, now with 15 catches for 314 yards and 3 touchdowns, production that could be even better had he not been out a couple of games with a groin injury.
In last week’s win against the Bengals right after all the off-field drama peaked for the entire team, Peoples-Jones and quarterback Baker Mayfield connected for two passes and a touchdown, one of them a gorgeous 60-yarder thrown perfectly and brought to the house.
There was a lot of noise in the preseason as Mac Jones was named the starting quarterback for the New England Patriots, an odd choice by head coach Bill Belichick who has had a history of not putting faith in rookie QBs.
At first the team struggled as did Jones, going 2-4 to start the season, but now the offense is beginning to gel better as the newbie QB gains gradual confidence, and New England has won its last three in a row, now 5-4 and in a position to challenge the Bills in the AFC East.
This year Jones has completed an impressive 68 percent of his passes with 204 completions for 2,135 yards and 10 touchdowns with 7 interceptions, numbers that would make some veteran QBs jealous and this kid’s just getting started.
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|Browns vs Patriots Information
|Cleveland Browns vs New England Patriots
|Gillette Stadium in Foxboro, MA
|Sunday, November 14, 2021; 1:00 PM ET
|How to watch
Mike Lukas is a retired standup comedian turned freelance writer now living in Dallas, Texas, originally from Cleveland, Ohio. His love for the game of football and all things Cleveland Browns turned Mike into a pro blogger years ago. Now Mike enjoys writing about all thirty-two NFL teams, hoping to help football gamblers gain a slight edge in their pursuit of the perfect wager. Email: [email protected]More info on Mike Lukas
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