The New England Patriots currently have a 4-0 record – not surprising. What may be surprising is the manner in which they have won all 4 of their games. They have scored 148 points thus far – fourth-highest in team history while allowing only 48 – an average winning differential of 25 points a game. The Cleveland Browns has been somewhat of a surprise themselves – they’re 2-2 and just a game behind the 3-1 Pittsburgh Steelers – overachievers if you will. The Browns look to ride their momentum and stop the tornado that is the Patriots in Foxboro.
The Browns have a surprisingly good offense, led by quarterback Derek Anderson (61-of-116, 964 yards, 9 touchdowns, 5 interceptions), tight end Kellen Winslow (20-367-1 TD), wide receiver Braylon Edwards (18-375-4 TD’s) and running back Jamal Lewis (76 rushes, 371 yards, 2 TD’s); so you know the offensive firepower is there. Their Achilles heel is their defense – or lack thereof). It ranks near the bottom of every meaningful defensive category; rookie cornerback Eric Wright leads the team in tackles. While that is good for Wright, no team should have a member of their secondary – especially a rookie – leading their team in tackles.
The Patriots are exactly as advertised – offensive and defensive studs. Led by QB Tom Brady, who is having a career year (95 of 120, 1,118 yards, 13 TD’s, 2 INT’s) and WR Randy Moss (31–505–7 TD’s), points being scored are obviously not an issue with the Patriots. RB Sammy Morris, acquired from the Miami Dolphins, has proven to be a find as he has taken up the slack for the injured Laurence Maroney. The defense, just like the offense, is top-notch, ranking at or near the top in most categories. Leading the defensive charge is LB Mike Vrabel (20 tackles, 3.5 sacks), CB Asante Samuel (2 INT) and defensive end Jarvis Green (3 sacks).
For the Browns to pull off the upset, they will need a flawless game, both from the offense and defense – remember that Browns coach Romeo Crennel was a defensive coordinator in New England – so expect some wrinkles in the Browns’ playbook. The Patriots just have to do more of what they already do and try not to overlook the Browns. This game should be academic around early 4th quarter, but the Browns should keep it competitive. The Patriots win this one decisively.