FOXBORO, Mass. (WPRI) — For the New England Patriots, the first two months of the regular season have felt and looked more like an extension of the preseason.
The Patriots have the largest point differential through seven games (+175) in the Super Bowl era. Despite lots of changes, the offense has scored 30 or more points in six of its first seven games, and the defense is allowing less than a touchdown per game and leads the NFL with 18 interceptions. But the toughest six-game stretch of the season begins on Sunday as the team welcomes the Cleveland Browns to Gillette Stadium.
Far from the expectation of being a potential playoff team at the beginning of the year, the Browns are just 2-4. But the Patriots have said all week how the Browns’ talent, depth, and coaching is much better than their record suggests. Coming off a bye week, the Browns will be rested and prepared for a big game on primetime television.
Sunday’s game is scheduled to start at 4:25 p.m. and will air live on WPRI 12. Beforehand, make sure to tune into Fox Providence at 11:30 a.m. for Eyewitness Sports’ New England Nation pregame show. Yianni Kourakis, Ruthie Polinsky, Morey Hershgordon and Andy Gresh will dissect the matchup and preview the game. Then, directly after the game, stay on WPRI 12 for a complete postgame show, New England Nation: Patriots Wrap, from Gillette Stadium.
Below are some notes and quotes from this past week at the Patriots headquarters leading up to Sunday’s game:
- If the Patriots come out on top, it will be the 300th career win for Bill Belichick, making him just the third head coach in NFL history to reach that mark.
- The Patriots defense leads the NFL with 18 interceptions.
- The Patriots have used hot starts this year, outscoring their opponents 70-7 in the first quarter through seven games.
Devin McCourty on defending the Browns’ explosive offense: “Their whole offense. It’s not just – obviously, Odell [Beckham Jr.] and Jarvis Landry are the names, but I mean, [Antonio] Callaway is as explosive as they come. Nick Chubb is running away from guys in the secondary, which you don’t see a lot from running backs in the NFL. Then [Ricky] Seals-Jones has made quite a bit of plays down the field as well.
“As a unit, you have to make sure all of us are in position to do the right thing,” he continued. “I can’t help for somebody else or somebody help me because they just have too many explosive players. Even the way Baker Mayfield plays, he’s able to escape the pocket, still throw the ball on the money – the deep ball he threw against Seattle, where he was rolling right and was able to throw it to Odell down the sideline. So, it’s an offense that you have to be ready to go. They have a ton of big plays in the pass game and running game, so it’s a true “do your job” game for us defensively. Between the front, the linebackers and the secondary is each one of us doing what we’re supposed to do on every defensive call.”
Bill Belichick on what he’s seen from Browns QB Baker Mayfield this year: “Smart player. They give him control of things at the line of scrimmage. He’s got a good arm. He can make all the throws. He can get the ball down the field; [he’s got] good touch. He extends plays. He can move around. He scrambled for a touchdown against Seattle so he can hurt you running the ball. I wouldn’t say he runs all the time but he can extend plays with his legs and his athleticism and make all the throws down the field and throws well on the run.”
James White on the addition of WR Mohamed Sanu: “He’s a good football player. Obviously, he played with some of the guys on our team in college and stuff. He’s a big, physical guy, can catch the football, so it’s good to have him on our team.”