New England Patriots at Cleveland Browns – Monday 6am NZT
If you had told the New England Patriots at the start of the season that they would win three out of four games without Tom Brady Coach Bill Belichick would have bitten off the hand that deflated the footballs in the AFC Championship game in 2014. That’s what they did though and he used two backup quarterbacks in the process. They were also without main weapon Rob Gronkowski for two of those games so an even better achievement.
This week Brady returns after his four match ban for deflating footballs and he will be showing the NFL “this is what you missed”. Unfortunately his opposition are the hapless Cleveland Browns who are consistent at one thing – losing and having injured quarterbacks. The Cleveland curse disappeared from the city’s NBA franchise last season however the football team have a long way to go before their luck will change.
Questions need to be asked why they signed RGIII as their quarterback anyway – no surprise he was injured in game one and they have had to rely on rookie Cody Kessler. This was after no. 2 quarterback Josh McCown was injured in the next game after replacing RGIII. Not only do they have quarterback issues to contend with their main wide receiver (coming off a season ban for violating the NFLs drug policy) checked himself into rehab for the rest of the season. Coach Hue Jackson understands he has a long hard rebuild ahead of him – very hard when you know you are going to be mincemeat week in week out
The Patriots have a 10.5 point start in this one. This may be conservative considering they were held scoreless at home the week before for the first time since 1993. Belichick is very good at coming back after a humiliation like that so expect a potential doughnut on the Cleveland side – and expect Brady to make up for lost games – a fantasy football starter is ever there has been one
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