Browns vs Patriots: A clash of 5-4 teams seeking their sixth win

Browns vs Patriots Week 10 NFL game preview

Baker Mayfield and the Cleveland Browns hope to build off their biggest win of the season as they visit Mac Jones and the New England Patriots in an AFC showdown on Sunday afternoon in Foxborough, Mass.

Mayfield threw for 218 yards and a pair of touchdowns on 14-of-21 passing, and Nick Chubb rushed for 137 yards and two scores to help the Browns rout the rival Cincinnati Bengals 41-16 last Sunday.

Browns vs Patriots: Cleveland moving on without OBJ

NFL: Cleveland Browns at Cincinnati Bengals
Nov 7, 2021; Cincinnati, Ohio, USA; Cleveland Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield (6) throws a pass against the Cincinnati Bengals in the first half at Paul Brown Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Katie Stratman-USA TODAY Sports

It was Cleveland’s first game following the release of former All-Pro wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr., but the Browns might not be totally free from Beckham-related distractions just yet.

After clearing waivers Tuesday, Beckham was tied to a number of teams — including New England. Patriots coach Bill Belichick and Beckham have been complimentary of each other in the past, and the team was reportedly making a significant effort to sign him.

“He’s a great player, and he has a choice to make and that’s up to him,” Patriots quarterback Jones said about Beckham on Wednesday. “We have really good receivers here, and anybody that wants to help us win is obviously a benefit to the team.”

Cleveland (5-4) had dropped three of its last four games before Sunday’s rout of Cincinnati. Without Beckham, the Browns had a balanced offensive attack with Mayfield completing passes to eight different receivers.

“Our focus is one week at a time,” Mayfield said Wednesday. “So I mean last week, at this point, doesn’t even matter. We just have to focus on trying to find a way to win this week and go 1-0.”

The Browns could be down a significant contributor against New England as Chubb was placed on the team’s reserve/COVID-19 list. Chubb, who is vaccinated, will have to produce negative COVID tests 24 hours apart to be able to play on Sunday.

Fellow Browns running backs Demetric Felton and John Kelly were also placed on the COVID list, leaving D’Ernest Johnson as the team’s lone healthy back as of midweek.

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Browns vs Patriots: Who’s the Mac?

NFL: New England Patriots at Carolina Panthers
Nov 7, 2021; Charlotte, North Carolina, USA; New England Patriots quarterback Mac Jones (10) looks to pass in the second quarter at Bank of America Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

New England (5-4) is coming off its first three-game winning streak since the 2019 season and has won four of five overall.

The Patriots coasted to a 24-6 win at the Carolina Panthers last Sunday despite a second consecutive middling week for the rookie quarterback. Jones threw for just 139 yards on 12-of-18 passing with a touchdown and an interception against Carolina.

Over the past two weeks, Jones has completed just 57 percent of his passes while averaging 178 yards passing. The No. 15 overall pick in this year’s draft completed over 70 percent of his passes while averaging 254.1 yards over his first seven starts.

Still, the Patriots have found ways to win as a team amid Jones’ struggles. Rookie running back Rhamondre Stevenson rushed for 62 yards against the Panthers while Damien Harris ran for a touchdown in his fourth straight game.

However, both Harris and Stevenson entered concussion protocol after leaving the game in Carolina and their status is uncertain for Sunday.

Harris and Stevenson did not participate in Patriots’ practice on Wednesday. Linebacker Jamie Collins (ankle) and wide receiver Gunner Olzewski (concussion) were also sidelined, while linebacker Matt Judon was away from the team for the birth of his child.

Patriots linebacker Dont’a Hightower was also limited at practice due to an ankle injury.

Cleveland was without star defensive end Myles Garrett (foot) at practice on Wednesday. Wideout Jarvis Landry (knee), defensive end Takk McKinley (groin) and defensive tackle Malik Jackson (ankle) also did not participate.

Mayfield was listed as a limited participant Wednesday with left shoulder and foot injuries.

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–Field Level Media