Friday, October 5, 2007

Measuring Stick

A tall order for the Brownies this weekend as they travel to New England to take on the machine that is the Patriots. I use machine as a compliment. The Pats are playing with a chip on their shoulders after the Spygate fallout and seem destined to prove to everyone that they are the dominant team in the NFL. It is going quite well for them.

On offense the acquisition of Randy Moss is paying huge dividends. Moss already has over 500 yards receiving and 7 TDs. Throw in Wes Welker, Dante Stallworth and TE Benjamin Watson and Tom Brady has more targets than ever. The Pats Offensive Line is very under-rated as Brady seems to set up in the pocket and seemingly have infinite time to throw. This allows his receivers to run deeper, more complex routes which account for many of his receivers gaudy yards per catch averages. The offensive line can grind it out whether it is the injured Lawrence Maroney or Sammy Morris. Throw it the fact that Brady is a master of play action and their offense causes problems for all defenses.

The Browns are in a pickle due to the lack of a pass rush generated from their defensive line. This means they will have to blitz to attempt to get pressure on Brady which leaves their young, inexperienced secondary exposed to attack. Leigh Bodden and Eric Wirght will have their hands full and Sean Jones and Brodney Pool must ensure everyone is in position of it will be a long day.

On defense, the Pats run the same 3-4 as the Browns, but they run a more complex blitz package which the Browns Offensive Line will have to pick up to give DA time. Richard Seymour is still on the PUP list and Rodney Harrison is just coming off of a 4 game suspension for steroids so the Patriot Defense is still not at full strength. The Browns are going to have to attempt to runs the ball and limit turnovers to keep the Patriots O off the field. The Pats D has been a beneficiary of their O getting out to large leads, eliminating the running game and allowing them to pin their ears back and attack.

But their Defense is not invulnerable. Junior Seau, Tedy Bruschi and Mike Vrabel are great players but are getting a little older and without Seymour the Pats do not have their premier pass rusher available. If the Browns can run the ball, they should be able to take advantage of their play makers in the passing game. If Derek Anderson can get good protection and limit the mistakes then I think the Browns could put up a few points on the Pats.

Do I expect the Browns to win? No. But this is a measuring stick game to see exactly where they stand in terms of talent. Vegas has them at 17 point underdogs but I don't think they are that bad off. Like I said it all depends on mistakes and game plan. If they can stick close in the first half then they may surprise some experts and hang with the NFL juggernaut longer than most think.

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