Free NFL Pick: New England at Cleveland 11-07-2010

November 4, 2010


New England Patriots at Cleveland Browns

Sunday November 7th, 2010 1:00 PM EST

Line: New England -5


The Patriots at 6-1 are widely considered to be the best team in the league. While many expect the Patriots to completely demolish the 2-5 Cleveland Browns. Vegas might be a little gun shy when making the spread for Cleveland. Two weeks ago, the Browns were fourteen point underdogs to the defending champion New Orleans Saints. They went into New Orleans and flipped the script, beating the Saints by thirteen. Now, as they take on the Patriots at home, can they continue to shock the world by coming away with a win after the bye week.

Keys to the Game:

  • BenJarvus Green-Ellis is becoming a force coming out of the Patriots backfield. While he probably isn’t a household name, Patriots fans are rallying around Green-Ellis, especially after racking up 112 yards last week against the Vikings. Bill Belichick loves versatility in the offense and he has shown more faith in his run game recently. With the departure of Randy Moss, the Patriots have to find another way to get things done. If Green-Ellis can become a force in the offense, the Patriots will be able to open up the passing attack. Since the Browns aren’t stellar against the run, Green-Ellis could have another big game, Belichick willing.
  • The Patriots lead the league with 29.3 points a game, so if the Browns are going to remain competitive, they had better get something going offensively. The Browns have been sub par on offense, struggling to find something they can really hang their hat on. Payton Hillis looked like he might be the answer after posting back to back 100 yard games, but his production has fallen off. The Browns’ best bet on offense is getting something going through the air.
  • The Patriots allow 282.4 yards a game through the air. Most teams have to throw on them, in an effort to come back from behind. Nevertheless, the Patriots have a weakness in their pass defense. Unfortunately, the Browns haven’t had much to brag about through the air. It appears as though Colt McCoy is going to get the nod come Sunday, which means the Patriots are going to have a field day. While McCoy was a seasoned senior quarterback last year, there are holes in his game at the professional level. If the Browns can’t put up 28, they don’t have a chance. They lack the playmakers to really scare the Patriots, but someone is going to need to step up beyond their capabilities to give the Browns a shot.
  • The Browns aren’t going to win in the same fashion they beat the Saints. The Browns didn’t score one offensive touchdown last week. The Saints are generally a disciplined football team, but the Patriots bring a whole new meaning to disciplined. Two interceptions were returned for touchdowns in the Browns game against the Saints. The rest of the points were from field goals. While it is good to see the Browns rally around their defense while their offense is struggling, they simply don’t have the defense to win by themselves consistently. The Browns are not the ’02 Bucs, so their defense outscoring their offense probably won’t be the norm.
  • Tom Brady has been good, but not Tom Brady good since Randy Moss left. With Moss, Brady completed 71 percent of his passes and threw an average of two touchdowns a game. Since Moss departed, Brady has completed 60 percent of his passes and averages just one touchdowns a game. Aside from his direct contributions that can be seen on a stat sheet, Moss always had the attention of opposing defenses. Now teams can focus on underneath routes. The Patriots who used to sneak out in coverage and make plays on short slant routes are no longer beneficiaries of the Randy Moss double team. It’s having an adverse effect on the entire offense, despite the perfect record without Moss.

Wrap Up:

While the Browns showed some fight in their last outing, they are certainly not on the level of play that the Patriots are. The Pats are going to win and win in a big way. The Browns are going to be a good team to bet on later in the season, when they are big underdogs against average teams. This week, with an unusually close spread for the Browns and Tom Brady rolling into town, it might be best to put your money on the other side this week.

Free NFL Pick: New England -5

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