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Recent posts by Mike Wilkening
Here's a closer look at a matchup to watch in Sunday's Patriots-Browns game:
Patriots running game vs. Browns run defense
When you think of the Patriots' offense, the passing of QB Tom Brady could come to mind first, but New England has a fairly productive running game, too. The Patriots are gaining 112.7 rushing yards per game, good for 14th in the NFL. They are gaining 4.2 yards per carry, which ranks in the upper half of the league.
RB BenJarvus Green-Ellis has received the most carries for New England in five of the last six games. He racked up a career-high 112 yards on 17 carries against Minnesota's stout defense in Week Eight, scoring twice. On his 13-yard TD run, the 5-11, 215-pound Green-Ellis ran off left edge and got a key block from ORG Stephen Neal, who pulled to his left. Late in the game, Green-Ellis burst around the left corner for 26 yards.
The quick Danny Woodhead is likely to get a handful of carries in relief of Green-Ellis and contributes in the passing game, too. He's caught 13 passes over his last three games.
The Browns' run defense has been respectable, allowing just 3.9 yards per carry. They are stout up the middle, with NT Ahtyba Rubin having his finest season to date. He's supplanted Shaun Rogers, who is questionable with an ankle injury. If he plays, Rogers could see time both in the middle and at end. He was exceptional playing the nose, especially in passing situations, in the Browns' upset of the Saints two weeks ago.
If Green-Ellis or Woodhead can get to the second level, there could be chances for sizeable gains. The Browns, who don't have an especially fast defense, have allowed seven rushes of 20 yards or more.