Game Preview

Thursday Night Football Preview: Jets at Browns

Week 3 TNF

New York Jets vs. Cleveland Browns

Browns -3  | Over/Under  39

Browns Stadium | Thursday 5:20 pm start

Staff NFL Picks Here

Last Week: While I didn’t hit the nail on the head with the final score, I did advise our readers to take the Bengals to win the game outright last week. After noting that I thought Cincinnati had more playmakers and that they’d make the difference, A.J. Green’s three TDs proved that notion. We’ll hope to give you another solid pick for this week’s game!

Thursday Night Football Contest!

DraftKings ContestThis week, big things are happening over at DraftKings, mainly, a FREE $10,000 Thursday night contest. We’ve teamed up to bring you this huge opportunity and you don’t have to spend a dime to take advantage of it.

Here’s how it works:

  1. Click any of the links in this article and head on over to the contest
  2. Draft and submit complete lineup by 8:20 PM Thursday, September 20th
  3. Watch your players rack up the points Thursday night and compete for cash prizes

Nothing makes a Thursday night matchup a little more interesting than having skin in the game. Will the revamped Cleveland squad have what it takes to beat the kid from Southern California and a surging defense?

Get drafting now and see if you can predict the players that will have the biggest impact on the game.

Eligibility restrictions apply. See website for details.

 

Thursday Night Game Preview

New York Jets vs. Cleveland Browns

Here we are. It’s Week 3, Thursday Night Football, and the Browns (-3.5 (-170)) are favored to beat the Jets. Yes, you read that right. Talk about an electric Thursday Night Matchup. After two hard-fought games to begin the season, the Cleveland faithful can almost taste the free Bud Light locked up in coolers around the city. Is this their week? Keep reading to find out.

The Jets started off their season with a bang, routing the hosting Lions on Monday Night Football, 48-17. Jets Rookie QB Sam Darnold recovered from a Pick-6 on the first pass of his career to go 16/21 for 198 yards and 2 TD. Darnold’s efficiency allowed the running game to thrive, with the Jets RBs racking up 177 yards on 28 carries. Darnold’s second game, however, was not as impressive. New York’s QB of the future came back down to earth a bit in his home debut. Although Coach Todd Bowles allowed Darnold to throw the ball twice as many times, he was not nearly as efficient. He struggled through a lackluster game to produce a line of 25/41 for 334 yards and only 1 TD to go along with 2 INT. The offense as a whole struggled as well, unable to emulate the rushing success they had against Detroit.

However, Darnold has shown a propensity to target WR Quincy Enunwa, who has produced in the form of 13 catches for 155 yards and a TD through the first 2 weeks. On the other hand, former standout WR Robby Anderson has only snagged 4 balls for 68 yards through 2 games. Finally, as a nice surprise, newly signed Terrelle Pryor has turned 7 catches into 133 yards with a few nice long gainers sprinkled in. Darnold will certainly get more acclimated with his weapons as time passes. With that said, he’ll need to mesh with all of his talented, capable WRs if he wants to achieve success in the Big Apple.

Isaiah CrowellThrough two weeks, the rushing attack has been solid. The one-two punch of Isaiah Crowell and Bilal Powell will certainly pace the Jets’ offense as the year goes on, providing stability and balance for their rookie QB. Powell will certainly help matters with his pass catching versatility, while Crowell can be the North-South banger that the team needs for early down and short yardage work. More specifically, if Crowell continues at his current clip, he could be in for a career year. He’s currently 8th in the NFL in rushing yards and is sporting a productive 6.2 yards per carry. If the running game can thrive, it’ll surely open more avenues for Darnold to make plays, and develop his confidence.

The Browns have the chance to be the Cinderella story that everyone yearns for. After being showcased on Hard Knocks this season, there’s a bit more excitement surrounding the team than we’ve seen in at least a half-decade. In Week 1, they gave the defending AFC North Champion Steelers all they could handle, with the game ending in a tie 21-21. Then, last week, they quite literally booted their chance at their first win when since-released Kicker Zane Gonzalez missed both of his XP attempts and 2 FGs. This included an XP with just over a minute left in the game; one that could have put the Browns ahead. Nevertheless, the show must go on.

After making waves early this week with their trade of WR Josh Gordon to the New England Patriots, the Browns are putting their money on the current offensive squad to produce. QB Tyrod Taylor has the wheel of the ship and is surrounded by a ton of new faces, most of which have a track record of success. Taylor has proven the ability to win, having led the Bills to their first postseason berth in 18 years last season. How was he rewarded for overcoming such odds, you may ask? He was traded immediately. While he typically throws less than most of the game’s elite passers, Taylor possesses an ability to scramble that few do in the league. He’s run for 103 yards through two games this season, while still managing to throw for almost 450 yards. This dual-threat nature will certainly keep defenses on their toes.

The most significant move of the Browns’ offseason was trading for WR Jarvis Landry, who they reeled in from Miami. Landry, fresh off a season where he led the NFL in receptions, is poised to be the crux of the Browns’ resurgence. Provided Taylor can deliver the ball efficiently, Landry should build on his success of the first two weeks. Through two games, he’s averaged 6 catches and 87.5 yards. Carlos Hyde, another key signing, also provides a veteran presence and some downhill running ability. When combined with pass catching specialist Duke Johnson, the Browns should be flush with options out of the backfield. That is, if they can be creative enough to utilize both players properly.

 

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David Njoku FantasyWith the departure of Gordon, the Browns will need more pass catchers to step up. The onus will most directly fall on young TE David Njoku, who’s been pegged by many as a potential breakout candidate, and rookie speedster Antonio Callaway. Callaway has already flashed signs of brilliance. He hauled in a long TD grab during Sunday’s heartbreaking loss to the Saints. With that said, there’s a chance Rashard Higgins could challenge for WR2 duties, after a productive Sunday vs. the Saints where he tied for the team lead with 5 receptions. All things considered, the Browns have a ton of young talent on offense.

If the veteran QB Taylor can get his weapons to fire on all cylinders, this team could be quite competitive. However, if things go by the wayside, GM John Dorsey might finally cut loose Hue Jackson and his (currently) 1-32-1 record. If he does that, don’t be shocked if #1 overall pick Baker Mayfield finally gets his chance. For now, though, it’s the Tyrod and Hue show… for now.

Let’s switch to the defensive side of the ball. The Jets’ secondary has tons of potential. The unit has been stingy thus far, allowing only 244 passing yards through two games. Not to mention, they intercepted Lions QBs 5 times on Monday Night Football in Week 1. They’re rich with playmakers in the secondary, including Trumaine Johnson, Morris Claiborne, and second-year Safety Jamal Adams. Combine that with a stout line, anchored by Leonard Williams, and the Jets have the potential to give opposing offenses fits for weeks to come.

The Browns are also absolutely loaded with young talent. The potential starts with their two Top-4 picks from the last two drafts, DE Myles Garrett, and DB Denzel Ward. Garrett is quickly asserting himself as a rising star, logging two sacks through two weeks, and adding two forced fumbles. If he stays healthy and continues to progress, the Browns could have a perennial All-Pro on their hands… and sooner than many would think. Ward, the rookie, has also flashed early, picking off two passes, and adding 3 break-ups in the process. The Browns certainly hope he’ll maintain this level of production moving forward. Even if he comes close, he could challenge for the Defensive Rookie of the Year honor.

Combine Garrett and Ward with the likes of Jabrill Peppers, Jamie Collins, and Christian Kirksey and this unit has the potential to give opposing Offensive Coordinators nightmares for years to come. I mean, they’re already wreaking havoc on the league through two weeks! Let’s take a step back and look at the numbers. In Week 1, they picked off Ben Roethlisberger 3 times, stripped him twice, and forced a third fumble to boot. Result? They tied one of the 4 best teams in the AFC last year, and a perennial powerhouse. In Week 2, they held the New Orleans Saints to 275 Total Net Yards. 275 yards! Let’s not forget… this Saints offense has All-World QB Drew Brees, dominant dual-threat RB Alvin Kamara, and PPR machine, Michael Thomas. 275 yards! This defense is for real… right now.

 

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The Pick

I sat around all day and analyzed this game objectively. When I came to my conclusion, I had to take a step back. Am I really about to pick the Cleveland Browns, write an article about the reasons why, and publish it under my name? Yes. Yes, I am. As I said before, this defense has battled with some of the game’s best already and hasn’t blinked. Surely, the Browns’ playmakers will grin a little bit when they look over the Offensive Line and see a rookie QB making his third start. Do you think they’re scared of Sam Darnold after two weeks facing off against Big Ben and Drew Brees? No, I don’t think so. I think the Jets will try to lean on their ground game, which is stable but has limited upside.

When the chips are on the table, in the 4th quarter, though, I’m just not sure Darnold is ready to beat the playmakers the Browns have. Could I be wrong? Of course, I could be. I mean, this team has lost 32 of their last 34 games. But I think it’s time for the Cinderella Story to begin, and for the free beer fridges to open in Cleveland.

I’ll pick the Browns to win the game outright, but don’t think they’ll cover the spread. I’ll take them to win at home 21-18.

See all our Week 3 NFL Picks HERE

 

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