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
National

US military tried, but failed to rescue journalist…

The U.S. military earlier this year tried to rescue journalist James Foley and other American hostages held in Syria ,but failed to find the captives.

National

Fate of captured beluga whales in hands of…

A Georgia aquarium went to court on Wednesday seeking federal permission to bring 18 captured beluga whales to the United States from Russia.

Local

After Eric Garner death, religious leaders meet to…

Interfaith leaders convened with city officials to discuss what the community can do to help dial down heightened tensions after Eric Garner's death.

Local

'Suspicious' Hamilton Heights fire caused by power strip:…

An extension cord overload caused the deadly fire in Hamilton Heights late Monday that killed a 15-year-old girl and injured at least 12 others.

Television

'So You Think You Can Dance' recap: Season…

And then there were six. It was a big night on stage as the Top 6 got to dance with each other, All-star partners and perform a solo routine.

Television

'Doctor Who' personality profile: the 4 Doctors

When the time comes for a new Doctor, there's always some anxiety over the big question: Who will he be? The series owes its longevity…

Television

Billy Crystal to commemorate late actor Robin Williams…

  Comedian Billy Crystal will pay tribute to late actor Robin Williams at television's Primetime Emmy Awards on Aug. 25, the show's organizers said on…

Going Out

Things to do this week in NYC, Aug.…

GAMES Hudson Common Open Aug. 21, 7 p.m. Hudson Common 356 W. 58 St. Free, www.hudsoncommonnyc.com The U.S. Open begins on Monday, but most of…

NFL

Giants expected to work Corey Washington into first-team…

The day of reckoning for the Giants' fringe players will fall upon them Friday night against the Jets.

NFL

Jalen Saunders still unsure what caused car accident…

Jets rookie wide receiver Jalen Saunders spoke to the media Wednesday for the first time since his car accident, but he didn't say a whole lot.

NFL

2014 Fantasy Football: Rankings, list of top NFL…

2014 Fantasy Football: Rankings, list of top NFL defense (DEF)

NFL

2014 Fantasy Football: Rankings, list of top NFL…

2014 Fantasy Football: Rankings, list of top NFL quarterbacks (QB)

Sex

Online dating for every generation

Frank Jackson and his mother Maggie are like lots of modern families: They have dinner together regularly, keep each other updated on their lives —…

Wellbeing

Going green could be the key to getting…

If we could just pursue the things that would actually make us happy, we could help the environment too, according to a New York researcher.…

Wellbeing

Metabolic syndrome could have a sugar link

Scientists in St. Louis may have found another culprit in metabolic syndrome, which can lead to heart disease and type 2 diabetes.  Uric acid is…

Wellbeing

Another way stress hurts your unborn baby

Mothers know to try staying calm during pregnancy, as stress has been linked to behavioral and developmental problems for their babies. But now, a new…