JETS (1-1) AT BROWNS (0-1-1)
Line: Browns by 3; O/U: 39.5
TV: Ch. 4, NFL Network, 8:20 p.m; Radio: ESPN
When the Jets visited Cleveland in Week 5 last season, it was one of the least-anticipated games of 2017. While Thursday night’s contest won’t crack the Top 10 marquee matchups of 2018, it’s still a lot more intriguing than last year’s 17-14 Jets win.
For starters, both teams have new quarterbacks. Interestingly enough, most would’ve predicted Sam Darnold would be a Brown. But he fell to the Jets at No. 3 in the draft and No. 1 selection Baker Mayfield is backing up Tyrod Taylor. Both teams appear to be on the rise, even if it will take some time.
The Jets aren’t as good as Week 1’s 48-17 win at Detroit and aren’t as bad as the 20-12 loss to Miami. As for the Browns (2-0 ATS), they’ve already shown in two games that this isn’t the 0-16 team from 2017. After a 21-21 tie against the Steelers, the Browns had the Saints on the ropes in New Orleans. The hosts needed an 18-point fourth quarter to win, and even that wouldn’t have been enough had the Browns not missed two field goals and two extra points.
Two weeks in, it’s clear the Brownies are no longer a cupcake on the schedule. It all starts with Myles Garrett and the defense. The No. 1 overall pick in the 2017 draft is a relentless pass rusher who will give the Jets’ offensive line fits. On offense, Taylor is the most capable quarterback Cleveland has had in years. He’s familiar with the Jets from his time in Buffalo, and that knowledge could be a boost to how the Browns game plan. The Jets will see a lot of receivers Jarvis Landry and rookie Antonio Callaway, who will be asked to step up after the Josh Gordon trade.
This is a toss-up game, and it could come down to a late field goal (the Browns signed rookie kicker Greg Joseph to step in after Sunday). What you have to ask yourself is this: Can you trust the Browns as a favorite? I say the answer is yes.
Sure, they haven’t been favored since Week 3 of 2017 and before that, Week 14 of 2015. So what? The 2018 Browns have enough to finally win a game, something the franchise hasn’t done since Dec. 24, 2016. After 635 days, the Dawg Pound parties like it’s Christmas Eve.
The pick: Browns
Bob Glauber: Jets
Tom Rock: Browns
Al Iannazzone: Browns