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3 keys to the Cleveland Browns beating the New England Patriots

The Cleveland Browns enter their Week 10 matchup with the New England Patriots laying claim to a 5-4 record.

CLEVELAND — Editor's note: the video in the player above is from a previous story. 

The Cleveland Browns put together their most impressive performance of the season last weekend in a 41-16 win over the Cincinnati Bengals. The Browns played excellent football both offensively and defensively. It was a win that kept their playoff hopes alive, and it’s something that needs to be replicated more than once down the stretch if the Browns hope to return to the postseason for just the third time since 1999.

RELATED: More Cleveland Browns coverage from WKYC

This week, the Browns take on the New England Patriots in a huge game in terms of the playoff picture. A Browns' victory over the Patriots would give them a 68% chance to make the playoffs, according to ESPN, while a loss would knock them down to just a 38% chance.

Here are three keys to winning this weekend on the road against the New England Patriots:

Repeat the passing success from last weekend

Last weekend’s win over Cincinnati was a coming-out party of sorts for the Browns offense. That can partially be attributed to both the hot start that quarterback Baker Mayfield got off to and the ability to create explosive plays through the air. In the first half, Mayfield completed seven of eight passes attempted. In total, the Browns ran just 16 plays offensively in the first half, but scored on all three drives. Mayfield’s 60-yard touchdown strike to wide receiver Donovan Peoples-Jones was the offense’s biggest play.

If the same version of Mayfield shows up in Foxboro this weekend, the Browns offense becomes much more difficult to stop than the one-dimensional version of the offense that had been plaguing the Browns for much of the season. Against Cincinnati, Mayfield had the look of a much more confident passer than he had previously been this year. Last year, Mayfield turned it on against Cincinnati and rode that momentum throughout the rest of the season as one of the NFL’s best passers.

This year, the Browns need to hope it’s the same recipe.

Put pressure on Mac Jones

New England rookie quarterback Mac Jones has certainly had a nice start to his NFL career through his first nine games. He has the Patriots at 5-4 on the season and hasn’t been a guy to cost the Patriots victories. Jones, at times, has been susceptible to turnovers though. He’s thrown seven interceptions on the season so far and put the ball on the ground four times.

The Browns are coming off arguably their best defensive performance of the year last week against Cincinnati, forcing a season-high three turnovers. That type of performance is something the Browns haven’t been able to count on regularly. One of the biggest issues for the team’s defense has been the lack of turnovers. Even after last week, the Browns only have eight takeaways on the season, tied for 23rd in the NFL. As for the Patriots, they’ve turned the ball over 14 times on the season, tied for the sixth-most in the NFL.

An interception and a fumble recovery should be expected this week, and it would be a great time for All-Pro defensive end Myles Garrett to create his first strip-sack of the season.

Run the ball successfully, no matter the backfield

This week has been a mix of good and bad news for the Browns. The bad news is that COVID-19 has struck the team, particularly the running back room as Nick Chubb and Demetric Felton both tested positive. While those guys are vaccinated, their status for this week is very much in jeopardy. If they return two negative COVID-19 tests, 24 hours apart, they will be able to play. If that doesn’t happen, the Browns will be without their top back in Chubb and a change of pace guy in Felton.

The good news for the Browns was the contract extensions handed out to offensive guards Joel Bitonio and Wyatt Teller. Those guys have been two of the three best at their position this year according to Pro Football Focus. Both of them have been excellent in the running game, as Teller has been graded out at a 90.8 in run blocking while Bitonio has earned an 86.3 grade in the same area.

The Patriots have been middle of the pack in rushing defense this year, allowing 108.9 rushing yards per game. Even if D’Ernest Johnson is the featured back this week with newcomers Dexter Williams and Brian Hill in supporting roles, the Browns should still be able to run the ball successfully against the Patriots.

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