Today could be the week that the Cleveland Browns get their first win, but things must go exactly as planned for that to happen.
If history is on the Cleveland Browns‘ side, then a positive result could occur for a change. That positive result I am referring to is a win. That is because Cleveland to an extent has had their Week 5 opponent, the New England Patriots’ number.
Cleveland beat New England two games ago and in 2013 had another win in sight, but ended up losing by just one point. Players have changed on the Browns roster, but not necessarily for the better.
That said, we could be watching in a little bit a similar tough matchup with rookie quarterback Cody Kessler and head coach Hue Jackson leading the team. For that to happen or at least to get close to attempting a win, here are three keys for a good chance at winning this week.
1. Cleveland’s Offense Must Dictate The Pace Of The Game
I know it is a very tough task to task and a lot will fall on the shoulders of Kessler and the offensive line. However, given the versatility of the running game and players like wide receiver Terrelle Pryor, should allow Cleveland to keep the ball often and away from New England quarterback Tom Brady.
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Unique play-calling putting Pryor and running backs Isaiah Crowell and Duke Johnson in a position to succeed will be important. The only reason why Cleveland will not be able to manage the flow will be because of their offensive line.
If the five linemen can play like they did against the Miami Dolphins, then the Browns will have a decent shot at playing their game, rather than (most likely) playing from behind.
2. Cover New England’s Tight Ends
The stats are embarrassing regarding Cleveland’s defense covering opposing tight ends. Lets just say that it is bad. Tight ends Rob Gronkowski and Martellus Bennett should have great games today even if Brady was not coming back.
Of course the limited amount of talent and depth along the defense line and at linebacker also plays a role into their struggle. Yet, that is no excuse. If Cleveland allows New England to score an abundance of points, there will be no chance of them to even stay in the game!
To have the chance of winning the game, the Browns must give less than 21 points. Can that happen? Sure, but I have my doubts.
3. Gary Barnidge Needs To Keep Providing Solid Production
After not even reaching 50 yards or catching more than four passes in his first two games, Barnidge has put together consecutive games where he made an impact. In Week 3, he had five receptions for 66 yards and a two-point reception. Last week, Barnidge had seven receptions for 57 yards.
If New England shuts down the Browns’ running game and/or Pryor, other players will be needed to keep making plays. Barnidge is no Gronk, but he is very capable of providing continued solid production.
That said, he cannot have a game like he did to start the season. If Barnidge can get six receptions for 60 + yards and ideally a touchdown, then momentum should swing in Cleveland’s favor more often than one may believe.