Football betting experts have been wondering how many times during the bye week that Cleveland Browns (2-5) head coach Eric Mangini passed by team president Mike Holgren’s office and said “Can you believe we beat the Saints?” It has probably happened a lot. The difference between the Browns before Mike Holgren and the Browns with Mike Holgren is that before Holgren a win like the one over the Saints would have been called a fluke. Now that Holgren is in Cleveland, a win over the defending Super Bowl champions is considered a building block.
The New England Patriots (6-1) continue to show why any of the preseason NFL predictions that count the Pats out should not be taken seriously. The Patriots dismissed wide receiver Randy Moss and look even better without him. It all has to do with the relationship between head coach Bill Belichick and quarterback Tom Brady. As long as those two are working together, the Patriots are contenders.
Browns head coach Eric Mangini is at it again. All three of his quarterbacks are healthy enough to play, yet he refuses to announce a starter for this game against New England. These are the circus-type acts that angered Browns fans last year and made the Cleveland team a punchline to may late night comedians’ jokes. The smart thing for Mangini to do is continue the successful development of rookie quarterback Colt McCoy. But we will see what Mangini and Holgren come up with in the next few days.
The Patriots took out big play wide receiver Randy Moss and replaced him with former Super Bowl MVP Deion Branch. But the Patriots offense is more than just one receiver. There is the ever-present Wes Welker who always catches key passes up the middle, and there is running back Danny Woodhead who does not let his small stature stop him from contributing. The Patriots get the most out of every player on the field, and that is how they win. It will be interesting to see what Bill Belichick does with all-pro offensive guard Logan Mankins who is ending his contract holdout and reporting to the team this week.
To be fair, it was more a case of what the Saints did wrong on offense than what the Browns did right on defense that won that week seven game for Cleveland. Drew Brees threw four interceptions that pretty much sealed the deal for the Browns. But the Browns did show a talent for putting pressure on Brees and causing bad throws. The difference here is that New England quarterback Tom Brady has so many weapons that the Browns may be in big trouble.
The Patriots continue to win despite having a young and inexperience secondary that makes a lot of mistakes every week. The front seven for New England has been able to shut down the run and put pressure on the passer. That is what has been keeping the Patriots defense off the field all season long.
The Browns could be in line for two upsets in a row, but that is unlikely. The Patriots do not have the two-dimensional offense that the Saints have, and the Patriot defense will keep the Browns bottled-up on the line of scrimmage. The Browns will continue to develop, but they won’t take the win in this game.
Pick: New England Patriots
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