For the first time this season, folks outside Northeast Ohio will be paying attention to the Browns’ match-up this week.
Of course it won’t be to watch the winless, young team from Cleveland. Instead Sunday’s match-up will serve as a story-line for the NFL as Tom Brady will return to play after serving his four-game suspension for his role in ‘Deflategate’.
The game was originally slated to be a return for stand-out players on both teams, but after Josh Gordon announced his decision to seek substance abuse treatment, he will not be returning for Cleveland.
Gordon would likely have had little impact on the game as the Pats, even without Brady, are playing playing like one of the league’s best teams despite their loss last week.
The Browns, as we know, have spent their first four weeks playing on the opposite end of the spectrum.
Further confirmed in last week’s loss to the Skins, Cleveland has proven that while the team has more heart than in years past, the young squad does not know in the least how to win in the NFL.
Expect little difference in week five even though Brady will be taking the field at First Energy Stadium in presumably less than game ready shape.
His suspension barred him from Pats’ practice, so it is likely the future Hall of Famer will need a few quarters to get up to speed.
That being said New England has not needed their unquestionable face of the franchise for the most part this year. An unlikely loss against the Bills kept the Patriots from heading to Cleveland as one of the NFL’s only undefeateds.
The Browns have stayed competitive throughout briefs stints this season, but I see little reason to expect them to hang with New England for the majority of Sunday’s contest.
The aftermath will likely send the two teams further along their far departed paths. The Pats will sit at 4-1 with their star offensive player taking snaps again and winning football games.
Cleveland has a good shot at staying winless with one of their top offensive talents in Josh Gordon not playing football yet again and instead seeking a way to cope with his off-field issues that have marred what would otherwise be a great start to an NFL career.