FOXBORO, Mass. (WPRI) — When the Patriots meet the Browns on Sunday in Cleveland, both 2-3 teams will be looking to get their record back up to .500.
Not only that, but the winner will also take the lead in the overall series between the two franchises, which is currently tied 13-13. New England has a 13-12 record against Cleveland in the regular season, but the Browns (under then-head coach Bill Belichick) won the only postseason matchup in 1995.
The Patriots have had the upper hand since that game, winning 10 of the next 12 meetings between the two teams, including the last four.
Both teams are expected to have backup quarterbacks under center, with Mac Jones still recovering from an ankle injury and Deshaun Watson suspended for several more games.
Jones is listed as questionable on the Patriots’ injury report, but NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport says he’s been ruled out for this week.
That would mean rookie Bailey Zappe will make his second career start, after leading the Patriots to a shutout win over the Lions last weekend. For the Browns, it’ll be former Patriot Jacoby Brissett, who’s made starts for three different teams since briefly taking over for Jimmy Garoppolo during Tom Brady’s four-game suspension in 2016.
The spotlight Sunday will also be on the running game, with the Browns’ Nick Chubb coming in as the league’s leading rusher (593 yards) and the Patriots’ Rhamondre Stevenson taking on the lead role with Damien Harris likely to miss multiple games. Stevenson is coming off a big game, racking up 161 yards against Detroit.
Kickoff is scheduled for 1 p.m.
Below are some notes and quotes to get you ready for the game.
- The Patriots are 8-5 against the Browns all-time in Foxboro, but 5-8 when playing in Cleveland.
- The Browns will be without DE Jadeveon Clowney and CB Denzel Ward, while Patriots WR Nelson Agholor, CB Jonathan Jones, and LB Josh Uche have been ruled out.
- The Browns’ 1995 postseason win under Belichick was the team’s most recent postseason victory.
Devin McCourty on the Browns: “This week is a huge challenge stopping the run. They have one of the best offensive lines in the NFL when it comes to running the ball. And you won’t play a better backfield than Chubb and Hunt.”
Belichick on the Browns’ run game: “Their fundamentals are good. Their schemes are good. They create opportunities for the backs. The backs, specifically Chubb, does a lot on his own. I’d say we’ve got our work cut out for us.”
Zappe on adjusting to being the starter: “There’s a few things that I feel like I’ve improved on a little bit, but there’s some things that I can continue to work on. Pre-snap recognition, post-snap seeing coverages, stuff like that, is some stuff that I feel like I’ve gotten a little bit better at, but there’s a lot more improvement I can make in that area.”
Belichick when asked about Zappe and Jones: “How similar are they? I don’t know. They’re both right-handed.”