Brian Sullivan (@MadMenScouting)
New York Jets (1-1) @ Cleveland Browns (0-1-1)
Location: FirstEnergy Stadium
Time: 8:20 PM
Where To Watch: NFL Network
Spread: Browns (-3.0)
If you had told me that the Browns were hosting the Jets on prime time a year ago, I would have been happy to use that Thursday night to catch up on other aspects of my life. That sentiment pretty much applies since I started watching football in the early 2000s. But now, enter Sam Darnold, and a Jets team that has plenty of defensive talent to go along with him. After a marvelous debut, Darnold took a step back against Miami. He’ll face one of the more talented defenses in football this week as he heads to Cleveland to take on a Browns team that has arguably overachieved. Most people expected Cleveland to start the season 0-2, considering they had a daunting two game slate to start the year. But they’re a kicker away from a 2-0 start, and they performed admirably against Pittsburgh and New Orleans. I never thought I’d be this excited for a match-up between these two teams, but I’ll be glued to the TV tonight as they both attempt to show the world that this is a new season for them.
Match-Ups To Watch
Tyrod Taylor Vs. The Jets Secondary
Sports fans are impatient by nature, so we’re already hearing the calls for Baker Mayfield, despite Tyrod not being the issue in Cleveland. He hasn’t been perfect, and his numbers are subpar, as he’s averaging 221.5 passing yards and 49.5 rushing yards per game. He’s only completing 53% of his throws as well, but some of that can be attributed to the fact that he was playing in a monsoon in Week 1. If can’t put together a solid performance tonight, there could be pressure to start Mayfield going forward.
Quincy Enunwa Vs. Denzel Ward
Robby Anderson was the hot name heading into the season, but it appears that Enunwa is the premier target for Darnold in this Jets offense. He’s amassed 13 receptions over the first two games, and Darnold has made it clear that he’s his favorite weapon at this moment. Denzel Ward was phenomenal in Week 1, but he took a step back in Week 2. Enunwa isn’t Antonio Brown or Michael Thomas, but he’s still an underrated player who can get open regularly. Watching them battle could be a ton of fun.
Myles Garrett and Larry Ogunjobi Vs. The Jets Offensive Line
I have no idea what to think of New York up front at the moment. They looked dominant against Detroit, but Detroit could be fielding the worst front seven in football. A week later, they struggled against a more talented Miami defense. This Cleveland defensive line is no joke. Garrett is bordering on “superstar” status, and Ogunjobi is emerging into a star as well, albeit quietly. If they can generate pressure, it will be a long night for Sam Darnold.
Browns WR Rashard Higgins
Stat Projection – 6 Rec, 86 Yds, 1 TD
Higgins was a solid prospect coming out of Colorado State a few years ago. He’s never really had an opportunity to succeed, but with the departure of Josh Gordon, he now has a chance. He recorded 5 receptions for 47 yards last week, and he could easily turn it up this week.
Jets Win 23-20
I’m off to a slow start, and this game isn’t making it any easier. This feels like the ultimate 50/50 game. The Browns have a roster edge, but the Jets have a coaching and quarterback edge. This game could easily come down to a few plays. I’ll go bold here and take the road underdog here, since Vegas has steered me wrong the first two weeks.
Image Credit – https://jetswire.usatoday.com/2018/09/19/stubhub-lists-free-jets-vs-browns-ticket/