The Cleveland Browns have note fared well against slot receivers and tight ends. Dolphins WR Jarvis Landry picked up 120 yards and a touchdown. Eagles WR Jordan Matthews added 114 yards and a touchdown. Ravens TE Dennis Pitta posted 102 yards. Washington TE Jordan Reed produced 73 receiving yards and 2 touchdowns.
Fortunately for the Patriots, they’re absolutely stocked at players that thrive in both roles.
At wide receiver, the Patriots have Julian Edelman, Chris Hogan, and Danny Amendola as players that can align in the slot, or at least take advantage of the opportunities the alignment presents.
At tight end, Rob Gronkowski is looking to make a real impact, while Martellus Bennett has been the best tight end in football over the first four weeks of the season.
“Martellus Bennett averages 2.98 yards per route run, the most for tight ends,” Pro Football Focus writes.
Football Outsiders agrees, ranking Bennett as the #2 receiving tight end in the NFL behind Jimmy Graham- and we all know that Graham doesn’t add much value as a blocker. Football Outsiders also has the Browns as the 28th ranked defense against tight ends, with only three defenses seeing more targets to tight ends and only two defenses seeing more yards given up to tight ends.
Bennett, Gronkowski, Edelman, Hogan, and the return of Tom Brady should be enough to capitalize on the Browns defensive match-ups. The Browns defense also ranks 30th when it comes to defending the opposing team’s #1 wide receiver and 21st when defending the #2 wide receiver.
Pro Football Focus has a few other Patriots stats worth noting.
The Browns have the two most elusive running backs in the league in Duke Johnson and Isaiah Crowell. The Patriots have averaged seven missed tackles per game. The New England defense is going to have to step up their game.
Chandler Jones has been the most productive Cardinals pass rusher of the past decade with 21 quarterback pressures on the season- four sacks, four hits, and 13 hurries.
Texans DT Vince Wilfork has 9 run stops, the 5th most in the NFL for defensive tackles. “He’s on pace to have as many stops as he recorded during his best years in the league,” PFF notes. It’s always great to hear that Vince is playing well.