Patriots-Browns preview: 3 things to watch for

Josh Gordon Browns
Browns wide receiver Josh Gordon is coming off back-to-back 200-plus yard receiving games. Credit: Getty Images

If the Patriots (9-3) need a crazy second-half rally this Sunday against the Cleveland Browns (4-8), then we can start to worry about their slow starts. Tom Brady and the Pats return home to Gillette Stadium – where they’ve been dominant since, well … forever – in hopes of nabbing their 10th win of the season and in keeping the pressure on the No. 1 seeded Broncos (who host Tennessee Sunday).

Here are three things to watch for against the Browns (1 p.m., CBS):

All eyes on Gordon
The Patriots have faced a number of superstar wide receivers this season in Julio Jones, Antonio Brown, Andre Johnson and every receiver on the Broncos. But their hardest wide out matchup could come this Sunday against Cleveland’s Josh Gordon. Gordon is on an absolute tear this season with 64 receptions for 1,249 yards and seven touchdowns. In his last two games, he had 14 receptions for 237 yards and a touchdown against the Steelers, and 10 receptions for 261 yards and two touchdowns against the Jaguars. The silver lining? The Browns are just 1-6 in games Gordon goes over 100 yards receiving. He could get his yards again this Sunday, but he can’t beat the Pats by himself.

“He’s a great player,” Bill Belichick said. “He can attack all three levels of the defense. He can run through them, he can take the short plays, catch-and-run plays, crossing patterns, look patterns, plays like that, quick three-step drops and break tackles.”

Who’s the quarterback?
Speaking of Gordon, he’s probably wondering the same thing. The Browns have been on a QB carousel this season thanks to injuries, and both Brandon Weeden and Jason Campbell could be out this Sunday recovering from concussions. The Browns signed two QBs – free agent Caleb Hanie and Cowboys practice squad player Alex Tanney – who will compete for Sunday’s start. The last regular season game Hanie played in was with the Bears on Dec. 18, 2011. Tanney? He’s never played in the regular season. He is, however, probably the best D-III QB in history, setting the NCAA D-III record for career touchdown passes (157) and passing yards (14,249) while at Monmouth. He’s also known for a YouTube trick shot video demonstrating his accuracy. The Browns should give Tanney a shot. What do they have to lose at this point?


Holiday cheer
There’s no place like home for the holidays, and the Patriots have proved that over the last decade and beyond. New England heads into Sunday’s game with a 22-2 record at Gillette since 2002. But their success in the cold doesn’t end at home: the Pats’ 46-6 record in December since 2001 is tops in the NFL. The early weather report says low 30s for Sunday.



News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
Local

Mayor pledges lower greenhouse gas emissions from New…

Just hours before the start of the People’s Climate March on Sunday, and two days ahead of the United Nations Climate Summit, Mayor Bill de…

National

The best places to see the Northern Lights…

A large solar storm hit the Earth's atmosphere and will tonight illuminate the skies with aurora borealis -- also known as the Northern Lights.

Local

Police officer killed Sunday morning Bronx crash, 8…

One NYPD police officer was killed and eight other officers were injured early Sunday morning when the van they were traveling in crashed  in the…

National

Pennsylvania police shooter manhunt near home of suspect's…

A police manhunt intensified on Friday for the gunman who killed an officer and wounded another in an ambush at a Pennsylvania police barracks a week ago.

Television

'How to Get Away with' mischaracterizing Shondra Rhimes

Shonda Rhimes read Alessandra Stanley's New York Times piece about her being "an angry black woman" and "a romance writer" and it did not sit well with her.

Gossip

New nude celebrity selfies leak … and Clay…

A new batch of nude selfies of Rihanna, Kim Kardashian, Vanessa Hudgens, Lake Bell and Avril Lavigne hit the web and Clay Aiken has something to say!

Television

James Spader's route to villainy on "The Blacklist"

In honor of the second season premiere of "The Blacklist" tonight, where James Spader plays good guy/bad guy Raymond “Red” Reddington, it’s a good time to look back at Spader’s…

Television

True Detective

NFL

Jay Cutler takes Marc Trestman's coaching to heart

While Jay Cutler turned to an autobiography on the man who would be his head coach, Trestman had personal experience with the player.

NFL

Jets vs. Bears: 3 things to watch

Jets fans likely chalked up Monday's matchup with the Bears as a loss when the NFL schedule came out. But given their team's play so…

NFL

Rashad Jennings carries Giants in first win this…

Rashad Jennings, who came to New York from Oakland last year, by way of Jacksonville, was highly coveted this offseason by general manager Jerry Reese.

NFL

3 things we learned as Giants pick up…

The Giants picked up their first win of the season over the Texans.

Career

Here's how to make the most of visit…

You’re primped, you’re looking polished, you’re prepared with a stack of resumes. Job fair hunters, unite! There are a few things to keep in mind…

Education

Learn how to study effectively and stop cramming…

Picture this: It’s midterm week, and college students everywhere are trying to frantically memorize all of the math formulas, political theories and historical facts that…

Parenting

How motherhood inspired Bethenny Frankel's new book

Bethenny Frankel's new children's book is about how her daughter and dog didn't always get alone.

Parenting

A sneaky way to serve kids fruits and…

"My First Juices and Smoothies" gives smoothie recipes for kids.