By Dan Zeigarnik, Patriots Daily Staff
The Patriots are a league’s best 6-1!
I guarantee that neither you nor anybody else saw that coming. They are exciting to watch and fun to follow. The rookie tight ends are electrifying. Danny Woodhead has become an immediate fan favorite. The defense still has a ways to go but it is young, talented, and is much-improved from last year.
While the team is not creaming its opponents like it they did in 2007, the Patriots resemble the feistiness of the 2001 team and that fits with the Patriot fans self-identification much better. Now they face the overlooked Browns, which just beat the Saints, are coming off of a bye week and are playing at home.
Look for the Patriots to perform well in these five areas of the game, to take home a seventh win.
The Patriots have a great special teams unit. So far they have blocked a field goal, a punt, and have run back two kickoffs for touchdowns. Apparently that’s not good enough against the Browns, who are supposedly even better then that. We will see what happens in this, special, matchup.
Wes Welker’s Routes
Wes Welker is having a decent year considering he shouldn’t even be playing right now. He has recovered remarkably quickly from his devastating knee injury. However, he is clearly not having as productive a season as he did last year. Some of that is due to the fact that the offensive approach is much more balanced this year, as well as the fact that Randy Moss is gone which lets the defenses focus more on Welker. The other part is that Wes is wearing a big bulky brace that hinders his ability to cut with the same gusto as he is used to. Well folks, the good news this week is that Wes has gotten himself a much thinner knee brace that he likes a lot more. If his routes are crisper and he can get more up-field traction once he catches the ball it will make the Patriots offense that much more dynamic.
Think of him as a rich man’s Heath Evans. He is big and lumbering; however he seems to catch the ball well out of the flat and to get yards after the catch by either running over opposing players or nimbly sidestepping them. He is ultimately a very likable guy, and someone who would fit great in the Patriots system. But not this week. This week The Patriots need to stop him in his tracks. The fans can go on to root for Hillis on Monday.
Patriots letdown vs. A Rested Browns Team
The Browns are a well coached team, or so everyone says. I think the Patriot fans clearly remember how ‘well coached’ the Jets were under ManGenius turned ManJudas, but that’s for another time. More importantly, this scrappy team is coming off a bye week and is playing at home. This does not bode well for the Patriots, who despite having some very respectable wins on the road this year, have faced some serious road woes in the past three years. With each successive road win, that monkey keeps sliding further off the Patriots back.
The Browns don’t have the raw talent on their roster to compete with the big boys, so they devise trick plays to even the playing field. As always, a successful trick play is about catching the opposing team napping, so when the plays are called in the game is the most crucial and under-appreciated aspect of a trick play as opposed to the play itself. If the Pats are ready for them they will blow them up regardless of how tricky the trick play is.