The Cleveland Browns finally showed up and played the way everyone was expecting them to coming into the 2021 season.
After a 41-16 shellacking of the Cincinnati Bengals, the Browns look to keep rolling against the New England Patriots on Sunday.
New England, however, is having a run similar to the resurgence of the Browns.
The Patriots have won their last three games against the Jets, Chargers, and Panthers respectively, with their most impressive win coming in a 27-24 nailbiter against the Chargers.
Both teams are coming into Sunday’s game hot and playing their best football of the season, and are pushing to make a playoff run.
Cleveland moved out of last place in the AFC North into third place and trail the Baltimore Ravens by a game and a half.
The Patriots have improved to 5-4 and now trail the highly-toted Buffalo Bills by only half a game in the AFC East.
Sunday’s matchup is huge for both teams who are looking to stay competitive in the playoff hunt.
Here are 3 bold predictions to look for in this showdown between the Browns and the Pats.
1. Baker Mayfield has His Best Game of the Season
After the Browns made the decision to part ways with Odell Beckham Jr., Mayfield and the Browns promptly had their best games of the season.
Mayfield threw for 218 yards and 2 touchdowns and had a QBR of 141.5, by far his best of the season.
As Mayfield continues to get back in sync with the offense minus Beckham, and his shoulder continues to heal, expect even bigger things from him.
The Patriots had one of the worst defenses in the NFL in 2020, but they’ve come a long way in 2021.
They managed to hold the Carolina Panthers to only 6 points and under 250 total yards and are picking up steam as the season progresses.
New England’s strong points are in stopping the run and generating turnovers but have some weak spots in the secondary that Baker could exploit.
Expect Baker Mayfield to have his first 300 yard and 3 touchdown game of the season and carry the Browns to victory.
2. New England Keeps Running Game in Check
Cleveland has the number one run offense in football by a longshot.
Their run game is what has carried them to a 5-4 record in spite of streaky play at quarterback from Baker Mayfield.
Unfortunately, New England has a tough defense and head coach Bill Belichick always seems to find a way to limit a team’s main point of attack.
The Browns will face the man known for his fashionable cutoff sleeves this Sunday in Foxboro. Bill Belichick’s first win as head coach of the Browns was in 1991 vs the Patriots. Two years ago he got his 300th win(regular season and playoffs) vs Cleveland. #Browns #PatriotsNation pic.twitter.com/QFuR9rXdJq
— Johnstone (@JStoneTrivia86) November 8, 2021
Don’t be surprised if Belichick builds his game plan around stopping Nick Chubb and company on the ground, and forcing Mayfield to beat them through the air.
3. Browns Defense Gets After Mac Jones
Some of Cleveland’s best defensive performances have been against first and second-year quarterbacks, Justin Herbert excluded.
Myles Garret and company have been relentless when it comes to harassing young quarterbacks and not letting them get comfortable in the pocket.
Garrett leads the NFL in sacks and his best game of the season came against rookie QB Justin Fields when Garrett collected 4.5 sacks.
The Browns also got after Joe Burrow last week who was only playing in his 19th professional football game.
Another huge part of the success of the defense was the secondary finally playing the way we all knew they could.
Led by star cornerback Denzel Ward who had his first pick-six of the season, and tipped another pass that resulted in an interception, the Browns looked like contenders.
— Cleveland Browns (@Browns) November 7, 2021
Cleveland had arguably their best defensive game of the season, forcing three turnovers and sacking Burrow five times, all while holding rookie sensation Ja’Marr Chase in check.
Expect the Browns to harass and confuse rookie quarterback Mac Jones all day and ultimately help the team to another victory.