Quick Take: Without Maroney (Groin) the Patriots will use a heavy dose of Sammy Morris supplemented with Heath Evans and Kevin Faulk. The Browns could be susceptible to short passes over the middle or in the flat to Faulk. They have one of the league's worst rush defenses giving up on average 129 yards per game (5.0 avg per carry).
The loss of Koppen cannot be understated. With the Patriots relying on everything under center to run perfectly, Russ Hochstein gets the call to fill in for Koppen and will have to perform well. The Browns have some big bodies on their defensive line, so Hochstein's challenge will be big. He missed some time due to injury earlier in the season, but appears ready and healthy enough to step in for Koppen as he did numerous times the past few years.
Without Wesley Britt, the Patriots will activate Ryan O'Callaghan to assume the duties of the extra tight end in the team's jumbo packages. Without Rivers who was released, the Patriots only have two healthy tight ends; Kyle Brady and Ben Watson.
Kareem Brown and Santonio Thomas are out, which means that Le Kevin Smith will get to playing time along with Mike Wright to back up Vince Wilfork in the interior of the line. Brown needs more time to develop so his absence isn't unexpected, but Thomas has had his fair share of action coming off the bench. He'll need to do more to get on the field next week.
Chad Brown is inactive again this week. The Patriots will use Junior Seau to perform most of the extra linebacker duties as he splits time with Tedy Bruschi. Eric Alexander also saw time during the season and remains an option. The team has Pierre Woods as an extra outside linebacker if needed.
Over/ Under: Pats vs Browns