|Notes and Observations Week 16: Patriots Escape from New York with 17-16 Win; Clinch First Round Bye.||Connelly’s Top Ten: Patriots Win By Less Than a FOOT||Panic Mode in Full Effect, Minutemen are Struggling||Patriots Survive Gritty Challenge From Jets|
This is your old fashioned trap game. With a big MNF win over Cincinnati last week and a titanic showdown looming next Sunday at Dallas, the Patriots (4-0) still have some business to take care of this week against the surprising Browns (2-2).
With a tough early season schedule – Pittsburgh, Cinci, Oakland and Baltimore – most figured the undermanned Browns with no proven quarterback would be lucky to escape those weeks with a single win. After a shootout win over Cinci in Week 2 where defense was optional, the Browns dominated the Ravens last week with a 27-13 win.
The Browns have been led by QB Derek Anderson (964 yards, 9 TDs), who beat out Charlie Frye and now figures to be keeping the seat warm for rookie Brady Quinn.
The Patriots come in with an incredible run of form. Last week they became the first team since 1950 to win their first four games by at least 20 points. Tom Brady and Randy Moss have been the most potent and dangerous combination in the NFL this year so far and Sammy Morris (117 yards last week) has been a great compliment to starter Laurence Maroney.
One of the major plot lines will be the return of safety Rodney Harrison, who missed the first four games due to suspension. He has been activated to the roster yet it’s unclear how much he’ll play today. James Sanders has been a very capable fill-in but Harrison’s intensity and leadership can not be matched.
3 Keys to the Game:
Prediction: The Browns are a good early season story but the Patriots are just too powerful. Playing in front of the Gillette crowd coming off four dominating wins, everything is falling into the Pats favor. Any sort of win will do for the Patriots, though with the Dallas game next week it would be troubling if the Pats could only squeak by the Browns. The Patriots may not be 41 point favorites, but a Cleveland win would nearly match Stanford’s shock win against USC last night.
Patriots 32, Browns 17