New England Patriots: 3 keys to beating the Cleveland Browns in Week 10

Mac Jones #10 hands off to Rhamondre Stevenson #38 of the New England Patriots (Photo by Lance King/Getty Images)
Mac Jones #10 hands off to Rhamondre Stevenson #38 of the New England Patriots (Photo by Lance King/Getty Images) /

The New England Patriots 3 keys to beating the Cleveland Browns will include both their injury-riddled offense and their emerging dominant defense to get the job done.

The Browns come to Gillette Stadium on Sunday with the same 5-4 record as the Patriots.

Right now, the Patriots hold the seventh and final Wild Card playoff spot while Cleveland sits in ninth place, only two places off the pace.

Each game is therefore critical for both teams if they hold out hopes of cracking the Wild Card ranks or winning a Division Title. There is little margin of error for any of the contenders, including the so-called “bubble” teams.

New England Patriots 3 keys to beating Cleveland on Sunday

One site,, rates the Patriots as having the seventh-best defense in the league while Cleveland ranks 16th. The first key to beating Cleveland is pass-protection, as in keeping a clean pocket for Mac Jones.

In the all-important sack ranking, Cleveland is ranked second only to the LA Rams. One big reason for that top rating is Cleveland’s All-World defensive end, Myles Garrett.

He is the NFL’s sack leader with 12 sacks in nine games. Garrett can and will bring the heat and the first key for the Patriots will be stopping or at least trying to stop him.

This will take the Patriots’ offensive line and that’s not all. They’ll have to deploy additional players, as well, against Garrett.

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If he rushes from the weak side against Patriots left tackle Isaiah Wynn with no help, rookie quarterback Mac Jones could be in for a long and painful afternoon.

A former first-round pick, Wynn, whose fifth-year option was questionably picked up by New England in the offseason, has been inconsistent this season, and worse.

That’s a bad optic for any right-handed throwing quarterback like Jones when his blind-side is exposed. Bet that Garrett will rush mostly from the right. Wynn will need help.

He can get it with chip blocks from tight ends, running backs, and wide receivers in motion. And he’d better get that help. It’s not debatable.

If Jones is to have any chance of completing his pinpoint passes at all, Wynn and company will have to bolster the left or Michael Onwenu possibly will need help at his right tackle position.

New England Patriots’ second key is running the ball

New England’s running game has been proficient this season due to Damien Harris first and foremost. Harris has also gotten some help from Brandon Bolden and the emerging Rhamondre Stevenson.

Both Harris and Stevenson currently find themselves in the concussion protocol, but both are listed as questionable for Sunday’s game. They may very well both end up being inactive, but even if one them can suit up, that would be a huge boost for New England’s offense.

If not, it’s bad news for the New England Patriots running game and their offense in general. The only two running backs left-standing are Brandon Bolden and J.J. Taylor.

Bolden has been surprising this season both in running and catching the ball. Taylor hasn’t had much playing time, only suiting up for four games thus far. He’ll get his chance Sunday.

But if New England is to keep their strategy of run first, pass second intact, these two backs will have to carry the load. If they can’t, it will all fall on Mac Jones.

New England Patriots third key to beating Cleveland is quarterback Mac Jones

The New England Patriots offensive line is a key to every game the Patriots play. They create the holes for the running game and protect the quarterback.

If the aforementioned weakened running back scenario falters, more of the burden is going to fall on rookie quarterback Mac Jones.

Jones is going to have to get the ball out quickly and more accurately than in the last two games against the Los Angeles Chargers and the Carolina Panthers.

Otherwise, it will be a long afternoon for both Jones and the Patriots. Should Bolden, Taylor, and hopefully one of Harris or Stevenson be able to keep the solid contribution of the running game intact, it will put heat on Cleveland’s defense. That’s the best option but it will be easier said than done.

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Of course, the Patriots will still need to contain Cleveland’s offense and quarterback, Baker Mayfield who’s having a solid year, though their best running back, Nick Chubb will be sidelined.

So there are three keys to beating the Cleveland Browns. What would you suggest are the keys to this important tilt?