NFL GAME PREVIEW

Browns gun for another big AFC win at New England

Field Level Media

November 12, 2021 at 9:29 pm.

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.

It was Cleveland’s first game following the release of former All-Pro wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr.

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 reportedly made a significant effort to sign him but Beckham eventually signed with the Los Angeles Rams.

Cleveland (5-4) had dropped three of its previous 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 will be without a significant contributor against New England as Chubb as was placed on the team’s reserve/COVID-19 list early in the week and ruled out on Friday. Chubb is vaccinated.

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 Friday.

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 their 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 better than 70 percent of his pass attempts while averaging 254.1 yards over his first seven starts.

“First of all, I think Mac came in with good fundamentals from high school and at Alabama with (Nick) Saban, but a lot of his mechanics, ball handling, things like that are pretty good,” Belichick said of Jones. “Like every player in every position, they can always be improved and refined a little bit. Again, his foundation is pretty good on that.”

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 they are each listed as questionable for Sunday.

Linebacker Jamie Collins (ankle) is doubftul after missing all three practices, while linebacker Matt Judon is away from the team for the birth of his child.

Patriots linebacker Dont’a Hightower (ankle) also is questionable.

Cleveland star defensive end Myles Garrett (foot) missed practices on Wednesday and Thursday but is set to play in the game. Defensive end Takk McKinley (groin) was ruled out while cornerback Greedy Williams (shoulder) is questionable.

Mayfield was listed as a limited participant Wednesday with left shoulder and foot injuries, but was a full participant the next two days.