Here's a matchup to watch in the Week Nine game between the Patriots and Browns:
Patriots TE Aaron Hernandez vs. Browns FS T.J. Ward
Two of the league's top rookies will battle against one another often in Sunday's game.
With all the weapons on the side of Tom Brady, he has targeted Hernandez often all season long, and after Randy Moss got traded, Hernandez still found open space to make plays. The versatile tight end has lined up in the backfield, on the line and in the slot this season. He hasn't found the endzone but is a huge weapon in between the 20s. The Vikings stopped a streak of five consecutive games of at least four catches for Hernandez.
Linebackers and safeties take turns on the Florida alumnus, and that means he should look up to see fellow rookie T.J. Ward on Sunday. The Browns' second-round pick leads all rookies with 60 tackles this season. He also has a forced fumble. A hard hitter, Ward has the speed to keep up with Hernandez but is only 5-foot-10.
The Pats' passing attack looked out of sorts at times against the Vikings, aside from a broken play that led to a TD for Brandon Tate. It's no coincidence that Hernandez had just two catches. He is a safety valve for Brady and catches almost everything thrown his way. Key components of both these teams' futures will try to one-up each other on Sunday.