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Catching up with … the Browns

08.02.13 at 10:22 am ET
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As we count down to the start of training camp, we’ll take a look at all 13 opponents on the Patriots’ regular-season schedule and break down each one of them. We’ve already featured the Bills, Jets and Dolphins, as well as the Buccaneers, Falcons, Bengals, Saints, Steelers, Panther, Broncos and Texans. Now, it’s the Browns.

Prospects are not great for Brandon Weeden and the Browns heading into the season. (AP)

Prospects are not great for Brandon Weeden and the Browns heading into the season. (AP)

Specifics: In Gillette Stadium’s penultimate game of the regular season, the Patriots will host the Browns at 1 p.m. on Dec. 8.

Say goodbye to … wide receiver Josh Cribbs, quarterback Josh Johnson, linebacker Kaluka Maiava, wide receiver Mohamed Massaguoi, defensive end Frostee Rucker, tight end Alex Smith.

Welcome … quarterback Jason Campbell, wide receiver Davone Bess, defensive end Barkevious Mingo, defensive tackle Desmond Bryant, defensive back Kevin Barnes, tight end Gary Barnidge, kicker Shayne Graham, linebacker Quentin Groves.

Recent history: Well, there isn’t much of it. The last time these teams faced off was November 2010, back when Colt McCoy (174 yards, zero touchdowns) was Cleveland’s quarterback and Aaron Hernandez caught a pair of Tom Brady passes for the only Patriots scores of the day in New England’s 34-14 loss.

The last time the Pats came out on top was in October 2007 (for perspective, that was the month the Red Sox last won the World Series). Brady threw for 265 yards and three touchdowns as his team doubled up the Browns, 34-17, in Foxboro.

The Patriots should be worried because … the new Cleveland brass likely won’t be afraid to shake things up. Joe Banner is the new CEO, Mike Lombardi is the new general manager, Rob Chudzinski is the new coach, and depending on how the Browns start, the team could look very different come December. And for as bad as Cleveland’s offense was in 2012 (314.2 yards per game), you never know what new offensive coordinator Norv Turner might be able to do with second-year starter Brandon Weeden, who will have Bess, who averages 64 catches per season, as one of his new weapons.

The Patriots shouldn’t be worried because … the Browns were terrible last year — and the year before that, and the year before that, and the year before that — and they aren’t exactly poised to be that much better this time around. Weeden still quarterbacking doesn’t inspire much confidence. They didn’t bolster a rushing corps that averaged fewer than 100 yards per game in 2012. Additionally, Cleveland owns a .250 road winning percentage in the last decade, and it’s been five years since the Browns last won a road game against a team with a winning record.

The skinny: It should come as no surprise that this is one of the 1 p.m. games in Week 14. The Patriots surely have their fair share of question marks on offense, but they are miles ahead of where the Browns appear to be right now. Plenty can change between now and then, of course, but don’t expect this one to be much of a battle.

Read More: Brandon Weeden, catching up with, Norv Turner, Rob Chudzinski
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