Patriots move to 8-0 with a 27-13 win over the Browns

New England Patriots linebacker Dont'a Hightower (54) runs for a touchdown after recovering a fumble in the first half of an NFL football game against the Cleveland Browns, Sunday, Oct. 27, 2019, in Foxborough, Mass. (AP Photo/Elise Amendola)
New England Patriots linebacker Dont'a Hightower (54) runs for a touchdown after recovering a fumble in the first half of an NFL football game against the Cleveland Browns, Sunday, Oct. 27, 2019, in Foxborough, Mass. (AP Photo/Elise Amendola) –Elise Amendola/AP Photo

7:35 p.m.: That’ll do it — 27-13.

7:17 p.m.: Starting to get a little sloppy here down the stretch. Nugent misses his second field goal attempt of the afternoon — he’s 2-for-4 on the day — and it’s still 27-10 with just over four minutes left.

7:02 p.m.: 29-yard field goal is good. It’s 27-10 with 7:44 left in regulation.

6:58 p.m.: Patriots now moving the ball effectively here as the clock continues to tick. These are maybe my favorite moments when it comes to watching the New England offense, when it shows an ability to just squeeze the life out of a game. Like I said, the Pats would love to be able to get to a point after this series where they can trade clock for yards. If they can punch it in here, they can really start doing that on the other side of the ball.

6:50 p.m.: Things have been in sort of a holding patten here for the last few minutes, as the Browns continue to battle, while (I suspect) we’re approaching the point in this one where the Pats are willing to exchange clock for yardage. Cleveland is moving the ball here, but they might need to start displaying some more urgency.

6:39 p.m.: Vernon has had a really nice afternoon, picking up that sack there. The Browns are a really talented young team — they just need a few roster tweaks and some maturing here and there to get to where they need to be. Cleveland will get the ball back with 2:15 left in the third quarter, but New England holds a 14-point lead.

6:27 p.m.: Best and most productive drive of the day for the New England offense, a sequence that came at an excellent time for the Patriots. A couple of nice screen passes, including a 59-yard pass play to James White, led to a 14-yard touchdown pass to Edelman, the second TD reception of the game for No. 11. Just what the doctor ordered if you’re the Patriots, who have done well to regain momentum here midway through the third quarter. Brady is now 16-for-29 for 202 yards and a pair of TD passes, while White has four catches for 75 yards. Meanwhile, Michel leads the ground attack with 11 carries for 45 yards.

6:23 p.m.: Screens, play action, and reverses can be the best way to neutralize a hyper-aggressive front like we’ve seen here from Cleveland. That certainly played a role in that 59-yard pickup to White on third down, which came on that screen pass.

6:19 p.m.: The Browns have cut the lead to seven after that 38-yard field goal. And I’ll go all in here — Chubb is the best back the Pats have seen to this point in the season, even with the ball security issues he had in the early going. He has 16 carries for 120 yards with 8:37 left in the third quarter — that’s a high for any back against New England this year, and we have another quarter and a half to go.

6:12 p.m.: You can’t let the Browns think they have a shot here. Need a stand by the New England defense to really extinguish any hope from the Browns. I’ll say this — the game isn’t over yet, but I think Chubb might be the best back they’ve faced this season, even with the two fumbles.

5:57 p.m.: That’s it — the first half is in the books. Great performance by the New England defense with three takeaways. The offense has had its moments — with two nice drives — but overall, things aren’t operating at peak capacity. The feeling here? Part of it is the weather, some of it is losing so many of your regulars along the offensive line, and some of it is the arrival of Sanu. Not that it’s Sanu’s fault, per se, but it can occasionallu be tough incorporating a new face into the passing game. All in all, it was a good first two quarters for New England, but the Pats could use a bit more of a finishing kick and the offense could use a boost on third down. (The New England offense is 2-for-9 on third down.)

5:49 p.m.: The Patriots are leaving points on the field. A nice drive had a less-than-ideal ending when New England couldn’t convert another third down (the Pats offense is 2-for-9 on third down today), and Nugent had his 29-yard field goal attempt blocked. I have very little faith in the Cleveland offense outside of Chubb, but it’s 17-7 with two minutes left here in the first half. It’s a lot closer than it probably should be right now.

5:41 p.m.: Interesting that the Pats have gone for it on fourth down twice today when they had what appeared to be a serious possibility to get three as opposed to keeping the drive alive. Not sure if that says more about Nugent or the weather. Regardless, New England keeps the chains moving, and are now on the cusp of the Cleveland red zone with 3:47 left in the first half. (Cleveland is challenging the spot.)

5:38 p.m.: The Browns are such a talented young team, but their inability to do some of the smaller things — ball security, etc. — and commit bad penalties at the worst possible time have really set them back today. Cleveland needs to do some roster tweaking and get older and more mayture. But their inexperience is really standing out in stark contrast today when compared to the Patriots.

5:20 p.m.: Opposing offenses are now 12-for-86 on third down this year against the Patriots’ defense. The first five offensive drives of the game for the Browns: punt, fumble returned for TD, fumble, interception, and punt. New England will get the ball back with 12:54 left in the first half. It’s 17-0, Pats. One more touchdown, and this one should be just about out of reach.

5:14 p.m.: End of the first quarter, and while the offense has actually been a little inconsistent through the first 15 minutes (the best drive ended with a barely-made field goal), the defense has done its usual tremendous job, blanking the Browns while forcing three turnovers on the way to a 17-0 lead.

5:08 p.m.: OK, so to recap…

The Browns have turned over the ball on three straight plays, with the last one coming on a shovel pass from Mayfield that was picked off by Lawrence Guy.

Gifted with terrific field position, the Pats quickly turned it into seven points when Brady found Edelman for his first touchdown catch of the day.

New England is now up 17-0 with 1:47 left in the firsy quarter. Let’s see if the Browns can make it four turnvers on four straight plays here…

5:01 p.m.: The Patriots couldn’t do anything with that turnover, but they did tilt the field a bit, so they have that in their favor. Going to be fascinated to see how a talented young team like the Browns respond here. Down 10 early in miserable conditions on the road — some teams would fold it up. We’ll see how they answer. It’s 10-0 with 2:36 left in the first quarter. Brady is 6-for-12 for 66 yards, while Michel has eifght carries for 37 yards and Dorsett has a pair of catches for 40 yards.

4:58 p.m.: What a play there for the Patriots. It looks like Chubb could have had a touchdown, but he was chased down from behind by Jonathan Jones and had the ball stripped. A terrific hustle play gives the ball back to New England.

4:52 p.m.:

4:50 p.m.: A scoop and score for the defense, as a 26-yard return for Hightower after a fumble makes it 10-0 with 5:45 left in the first quarter. New England gets a stop here, and it has to start to feel good about its chances here in the early going. Again, we’re thinking points will be at a premium today — we still believe in the under — so a 10-0 lead is a really good start.

4:45 p.m.: Patriots go up 3-0 with 6:35 to go in the first quarter. The New England offense got things cranked up, but the Pats were unable to punch it in — they actually dodged a bullet there, as Brady was almost picked off. And Nugent wobbled one through for a field goal. Not ideal, but on an afternoon like this one, points are going to be at a premium. New England should be happy Brady wasn’t picked there in the end zone.

4:41 p.m.: One good part of that offensive drive for the Patriots? The 33-yarder from Brady to Dorsett got things going, which led to the excellent third-down pickup from Edelman and the Michel first-down run. New England’s offense is in business here on this drive. Have to reach the end zone here to make a statement early.

4:35 p.m.: Opponents are now 12-for-85 on third down against the NE defense this season. Patriots will get the ball back.

4:29 p.m.: After a nice start with that first down on the ground, the Pats will be forced to punt. We’ll see Mayfield and the Browns here in a moment.

4:25 p.m.: Pats will get the ball first. Time for the foosball.

4:15 p.m.: Colts win, 15-13, and the Bills lose, 31-13. So the Pats get some room in the AFC East, as the Bills drop to 5-2. New England can move to 8-0 today with a win over the Browns.

4:10 p.m.:

3:52 p.m.: Some additional notes on today’s game: Jim Nantz and Tony Romo are on the mic for the CBS crew — the Patriots are 13-2 since the start of the 2017 season when they are in the broadcast booth. In addition, Tony Corrente is the referee for the contest. Corrente has work as the lead official for several big New England games over the years, but this is his first Patriots’ game since last year’s opener against the Texans.

3:45 p.m.:

3:20 p.m: This game opened up with the Patriots as a double-digit favorite with multiple outlets, and not much has changed since then.

Honestly, 11.5 feels a little conversative, but a relatively safe bet right now, considering the state of the two teams and the weather conditions today. (For what it’s worth, the Patriots are 5-2 against the spread this year, per Odds Shark.) The over/under is mostly in the low 40s, and with the rainy conditions, the under might be a good call. You can also get odds on whether or not Mohamed Sanu will score a touchdown in his first game with the Pats. Should be fun.

3:05 p.m.:

3:00 p.m.: Matt LaCosse, Ryan Izzo, Joejuan Williams, Shaq Mason, Damien Harris, and Byron Cowart are the Patriots inactives this afternoon. Mason was dinged up all week, and so his status shouldn’t be all that much of a shock, but given his record of durability, it’s still a surprise to see him out. Expect James Ferentz to get work in his place. With Burkhead back in the lineup, Harris goes back to the sideline. (We’ve said it before, but here’s a guy who appears ticketed for the Shane Vereen-Trey Flowers rookie redshirt program.) Williams and Cowart are at the tail end of their respective depth charts, so neither one of those moves is a surprise.

Mohamed Sanu will be active for his first game with the Patriots. The feeling here is he is eased into action as needed — I’d look for him to get somewhere in the vicinity of 20-30something snaps and catch a few targets in the early going as they get him up-to-speed in the New England offense.

2:49 p.m.: A few quick updates from around the league — the Eagles and Broncos are both doing the Patriots a solid here in the early going, as they hold third-quarter leads on the Bills and Colts, respectively. If those games hold, the Patriots could gain some separation between themselves and two of their pursuers in the chase for AFC home field.

2:30 p.m.:

2:15 p.m.: Welcome back to football! Today is a special day:

As for the local action, the Patriots will host the Browns this afternoon at a soggy Gillette Stadium. We’ll have the inactives up shortly — they are scheduled to be released just before 3 — but we do know that tight ends Ryan Izzo (concussion) and Matt LaCosse (knee) have both been ruled out for today’s game, so there will be five others to account for between now and kickoff. Among the questionables? Patrick Chung, Julian Edelman and Shaq Mason. (Per Adam Schefter, Rex Burkhead is expected to give it a go.)

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As for weather, it looks like it will definitely be an issue this afternoon. Our guy Dave Epstein is calling for a period of sustained showers throughout the day, with highs in the mid to upper 50s. It’ll be interesting to see how much that has an impact on what goes on this afternoon.

We’ll have updates from Gillette, a late look at the betting line, news from around the league and some inactive analysis along before kickoff. But without further ado, here’s an early pregame reading list to get you ready for today’s contest: