Patriots-Browns matchup of the day: Thursday

Posted Nov. 04, 2010 @ 5:41 p.m.
Posted By Kevin Fishbain

Here's a matchup to watch in the Week Nine game between the Patriots and the Browns:

Browns RB Peyton Hillis vs. Patriots' front seven

The Patriots' strength on defense has come from a linebacking corps that includes three new starters, including two rookies. The defensive line has seen a lot of shuffling, but Vince Wilfork is still a stalwart, whether he is at the nose or on the end. As bad as the defense has been overall, the Pats rank 11th against the run, but they haven't faced a big, powerful back like Hillis.

With rookie RB Montario Hardesty going down in the preseason, Hillis won the starting job over Jerome Harrison. Hillis is averaging 4.4 yards a carry and has five rushing TDs. The 240-pound back is also a threat receiving, with 27 catches for 193 yards and a TD.

While the Patriots' secondary is clearly their weakness, the schemes that Bill Belichick will throw at Colt McCoy will be tough for the rookie QB. The Browns' best chance to win is for Hillis to have a big game, dominate the time of possession and keep their own defense (especially the secondary) off the field.

Vikings RB Adrian Peterson had some success in the first half last week against the Pats running up the gut, which is where Hillis will want to attack. But ILB Jerod Mayo is having a big season, leading the league in tackles, and rookie ILB Brandon Spikes has also performed well against the run. If Hillis finds holes to run though and moves the chains, McCoy can gain a little confidence, and it could provide the recipe the Browns need for an upset.