The New England Patriots kick-off their NFL week fourteen game on Sunday against the Cleveland Browns in Foxboro, MA at 1:00PM eastern time. Continuing their tour through the AFC North, the AFC East leading nine win Patriots face-off against the four win Cleveland Browns. The Patriots are looking for their third straight win while Cleveland is on a three game slide. While New England can wrap up the AFC East with a win and a Dolphins loss, the Browns sit two games behind the division rival Ravens for the final Wild Card spot in the AFC. The Patriots are looking for another win to stay in contention for a top spot and bye week in the playoffs. The Browns are looking get back in contention and to make a run for the playoffs.
The big story leading up to the week was the quarterback situation in Cleveland. Starter Jason Campbell and thrice-demoted backup Brandon Weeden have been suffering with post-concussive symptoms and the team was limited to the choice between newly signed Alex Tanney and Caleb Hanie. Fortunately for the Browns, Jason Campbell–their best choice of the four–has been cleared to play and will be behind center on Sunday.
In addition to quarterback issues, the Browns announced this week that defensive end Desmond Bryant was placed on the reserve/non-football injury list with an irregular heartbeat. Bryant, who signed a five-year, $34 million contract this offseason, had been the Browns’ second best pass rusher. In twelve regular season games, Bryant has been credited with 19 hurries and 11 quarterback hits to go along with 45 tackles and 3.5 sacks (statistics from NFL.com and ProFootballFocus.com).
However, the Browns are not a team built to pressure on the opposing quarterback: Bryant, disappointing free agent signing Paul Kruger and 2013 first-round draft pick Barkevious Mingo are a few of the pieces added to linebacker Jabaal Sheard to kick-start the pass rush. The team is very strong against the run, but they will struggle on Sunday to keep the Patriots off the scoreboard. In fact, per NFL.com, the Browns have allowed more touchdown passes (19) since week six than any other team.
The Cleveland Browns, despite their issues at quarterback, have one of the best wide receivers in the game this season in Josh Gordon. Gordon is the first player in NFL history to put up back-to-back 200 yard receiving games, made all the more impressive by having Brandon Weeden getting him the ball and the lack of playmakers on the offense...Click here for more: http://cover32.com/patriots/2013/12/08/browns-vs-patriots-preview-gronk-is-clevelands-match-up-nightmare/