Time: Sunday, October 7, 1:00 PM
Location: Gillette Stadium, Foxboro
Network, Announcers: CBS- Greg Gum Ball and Dan Dierdorf.
Line: Patriots by sixteen (!) I know New England is better than Cleveland, playing at home, should be favored… but sixteen? Is this North Texas at Oklahoma, or are we going to have NFL football here?
Team W/L Records: Cleveland is 2-2; New England is 4-0
Coaches: Romeo Crennel is 12-24 in his third season with the Browns. Bill Belichick is 79-36 in his eighth season with the Patriots; 115-81 overall when you throw in his tenure with Cleveland.
Last Week for the Browns: Jumped out to a 24-3 lead and cruised to a 27-13 thumping of the Rats.
Last Week for the Patriots: Did a little of Cleveland’s “light work” with a 34-13 Monday Night pasting of the Bengals in Cincinnati.
All-Time Series: Cleveland leads 12-8, including the 20-13 playoff victory in 1994. The Patriots are 3-1 against the new Browns and have a three-game winning streak in the series.
Last Meeting: December 5, 2004. Going against a Cleveland team that had just fired Butch Davis and was starting Luke McCown at quarterback for the first time, the Super Bowl-bound Patriots wasted little time, jumping to the lead on Bethel Johnson’s 93-yard return of the opening kickoff and piling on to win big, 42-15.
Out or Questionable for New England: TE David Thomas (foot) is out; C Dan Koppen (ankle) is doubtful; LB Roosevelt Colvin (ankle), CB Randall Gay (thigh), RB Laurence Maroney (groin), G Steve Neal (shoulder), WR Donte Stallworth (knee) and WR Kelley Washington (hamstring) are questionable.
Out or Questionable for Cleveland: TE Kellen Winslow (shoulder), CB Gary Baxter (knees), G Eric Steinbach (neck) and DL Orpheus Roye (knee) are questionable.
What to watch for the Patriots: Overconfidence. Yeah, yeah, we know- the Patriots never look past an opponent. That’s just one of the many reasons they’re so incredibly, wonderfully awesome. But this has “trap game” written all over it. New England hasn’t even been tested in any of its wins. There is loud talk that an undefeated season is a distinct possibility. Dallas, which looks like hands-down the best team in the NFC (if you don’t believe in Green Bay’s staying power, which I don’t), looms next week. That Belichick will have a sound game plan for attacking the Browns is beyond doubt. But will the Patriots be entirely there at the beginning of the game? If they are, bully for them. It wouldn’t be a shock if they weren’t, though.
Good Past Win over the Patriots: November 20, 1983- Cleveland’s talented young defense notched its second consecutive shutout and boosted the Browns to 7-5 on the season with a 30-0 rout of the Patriots at Sullivan Stadium in Foxboro. Chip Banks broke it open in the second quarter when he stepped in front of a pass by either Steve Grogan or Tony Eason and took it 65 yards down the left sideline for a touchdown.
Bad Past Loss to the Patriots: Opening week, 1995- This was a ’94 playoff re-match between a pair of teams with Super Bowl pretensions, and of course, it was Belichick v. Parcells as well. The Browns led 14-6 going into the fourth quarter thanks to a couple of Testaverde-to-Jackson/Dyson touchdown connections. But the Pats came back with a field goal and a touchdown to win, 17-14. Curtis Martin, playing in his first NFL game, scored the winning touchdown. As it turned out, the Patriots underachieved in 1995, going 6-10 as the defense fell apart and Drew Bledsoe had one of his worst years as a pro. They still had a better year than the Browns did.
Next Week for Both Teams: Cleveland is at New England; Baltimore is at San Francisco
Trivia: Bill Belichick’s first regular-season and playoff win as a head coach both came over the New England Patriots.