And statistically speaking, the return of Tom Brady could not come soon enough for the Patriots.
The Browns are the best rushing team in the NFL through the first four weeks. The Patriots are third. Cleveland is 25th in the league in passing yards per game. New England is 28th.
Overall, the Browns have the 10th best offense (based on total yards per game). The Patriots have the 18th. Additionally, the Browns and Patriots separated in total scoring by just 1.7 points per game.
Based solely on the numbers, the Browns offense has been better than the Patriots through the first four games, and surprisingly, Cleveland’s defense isn’t that different from New England’s either.
The Browns allow the 16th most passing yards per game. The Patriots allow the 18th most. On the other hand, New England allows the 15th most rushing yards per game. Cleveland allows the 24th most rushing yards per game.
Overall, the Patriots have the 19th best defense, and the Browns have the 23rd.
Who would have thought the two teams were so evenly matched (statistically speaking, at least) going into their Week 5 matchup?
Well, no one thought that, and no one really thinks the Browns have a chance to beat the Patriots. At 3-1, the New England is trending in the right direction, and the Browns, at 0-4, are trending down. In this instance, the numbers don’t really tell us anything.
In 2016, we have not seen the Patriots offense at full-strength. There has been no Brady, an injured Rob Gronkowski and other injuries and suspensions.
Well, the real Patriots are here, and everyone expects to see “Angry Brady” in Week 5, and we will see a glimpse of what is to come, but the Patriots cannot rely solely on Brady’s excellence and expect to win.
So, what must the Patriots do to make sure they do not suffer a shocking defeat?
First, the Patriots must stop the Browns rushing attack. Isaiah Crowell is averaging 98.5 yards per game rushing, and he has scored a touchdown in three of the team’s four games. Crowell is carrying the Brown’s and leading their league-leading rushing attack.
If the Patriots can stop Crowell, they will force Cody Kessler to throw the ball, which is their ultimate goal. Through two starts, Kessler has thrown 73 passes and only one touchdown. Now that Josh Gordon will not be returning, Kessler does not have many targets.
Tight end Gary Barnidge will catch some passes, and Terrelle Pryor, the team’s leading wide receiver/backup QB/rushing threat will make some plays, but if the Brown’s can’t get their running game going, they have no chance to win.
On Sunday, the Patriots will load the box and stop Crowell from doing anything, which will cause Kessler to throw the ball, and the Patriots defense will force turnovers.
If the defense steps up, Brady won’t have to put up huge numbers to carry his team to victory, and he can use this game against a mediocre opponent to get back into the speed of things.
The Patriots will beat the Browns 31 to 14.
Article originally posted on Cleat Geeks.