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Cleveland Browns vs New England Patriots Betting Preview
The Cleveland Browns picked up a huge win last week against the Cincinnati Bengals in the battle of Ohio. This week, they look to pick up a second straight win and keep themselves above .500 as they go to New England for a matchup against the Patriots. With both teams at 5-4 on the season, the winner of this contest will give itself a leg up in the standings in the AFC as postseason spots become a stronger possibility.
Cleveland enters this game as a 2.5-point underdog after its impressive performance against the Bengals last week. While both teams were relatively even in terms of yards gained in the battle of Ohio, the Browns forced three turnovers and didn't turn the ball over themselves. This week, the Browns will need to continue to play mistake-free football against a Patriots team that has made a habit of taking advantage of their opponents' mistakes in the Belichick era.
The Browns will also need to overcome the continued turmoil that drove them to let Odell Beckham Jr. go. With Beckham gone, it is possible that the team's chemistry improves, as Baker Mayfield will face fewer questions about where he is throwing the football. But the receiving corps will also get worse without Beckham in the fold, whether or not he was a pleasant teammate.
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New England Patriots
Last week, the New England Patriots demolished the Carolina Panthers, holding the Panthers to just six points in a convincing victory for the Patriots. In that game, Sam Darnold was unable to finish things for the Panthers, as the Patriots' defense prompted a quarterback change. In this game, the Patriots will need to hone in on defending the run to put the Browns in adverse situations.
Cleveland is the number one team in the league in terms of yards per carry average this season, while they have struggled to complete passes consistently. If the Patriots can get stops against the rushing attack of the Browns, they will force the Browns into third downs where they will have to put it in the air with Baker Mayfield. That would be the best-case scenario for a Patriots team that is looking for a fourth straight victory.
Keys to the Game
For the Cleveland Browns, the key to this game will be whether or not they can avoid mistakes. There isn't a coach in the history of football that can force a team out of its comfort zone better than Bill Belichick. If Cleveland is made to win without being able to simply run the ball at will, Baker Mayfield will need to be careful with the football to ensure that the Browns don't give away free points.
New England's biggest key to this game is the play of quarterback Mac Jones. During New England's three-game win streak, Jones has thrown three touchdowns and just one interception, after a run of four consecutive games where he threw a pick. A continuation of Jones' improvement in this game would be huge for the Patriots as they look to improve to 6-4.
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