There haven’t been a lot of wins for the 1-1 New York Jets or 0-1-1 Cleveland Browns recently (8:20 p.m. ET Thursday on NFL Network). New York has gone 5-11 in each of its last two seasons and the Browns have combined for a measly one win in their last two campaigns.
However, there is some hope on the horizon for both squads. The Jets have 21-year-old rookie quarterback Sam Darnold and a young defense looking pretty good through two games. Cleveland has been very close to winning both of its games so far against two Super Bowl hopefuls and has a lot of high-potential youngsters on both sides of the ball.
The two squads will meet in Cleveland to kick off the NFL’s Week 3 schedule on Thursday. Can Cleveland get its first win since December 2016, or will the Jets get a key win on the road? We’ll break down some burning questions about these two teams and then offer some New York Jets vs Cleveland Browns predictions and betting picks.
Which Can Win Turnover Battle?
The age-old adage in football is that if you win the turnover battle, you will probably win the game. Both the Browns and Jets have defenses that are taking that adage seriously this year. Cleveland has an NFL-leading eight takeaways and New York is right behind at seven.
Neither of these squads has a good offense, but the defenses have been good enough at getting takeaways that both teams have scored a decent number of points.
Any team that can get an early lead in this game will have a big advantage. This is because the opposing offense will be forced out of its comfort zone to go for big offensive plays, which is often when the big defensive plays happen.
We know that both offenses are going to be outmatched by the opposing defense in this game. But which defense will be more opportunistic?
Which Squad Will Get More Out of Its Running Game?
On one side in this game, you have a Browns team that has a strong three-man running back group of Carlos Hyde, Duke Johnson and Nick Chubb. The Jets, meanwhile, don’t have a star in the backfield and the running game looks like a weakness, on paper.
So far, New York’s backfield has been better, but it did lay an egg in Week 2. Jets running backs Isaiah Crowell and Bilal Powell combined for just 41 rushing yards on 17 attempts. The aforementioned Browns’ backs have combined to average only 3.1 yards per carry in their two games.
Any sort of offensive rhythm for these teams would be welcome. Rhythm can often be established with a good running game, so we will see which group of halfbacks (and offensive line) performs the best there.
Will the Browns’ Special Teams Blow it Again?
Special teams are often a forgotten aspect in a team’s success. Many times, pundits focus on a team’s offense and defense and then forget about what kind of kicking, punting, return and return coverage units it has.
To put it bluntly, the Browns’ special teams have stunk in the first two weeks. Kicker Zane Gonzalez has made just two out of his five field goals, including none of his three tries from beyond 40 yards. He has also missed two of his five extra point attempts. Not surprisingly, Cleveland quickly waived him after the game and signed Greg Joseph as a replacement.
The problems extend past Gonzalez, though. Cleveland is 26th in net yards per punt (38.9) due to poor return coverage. Opponents are returning the Browns’ kickoffs an average of 29 yards, which is the sixth-longest average in the NFL.
Special teams don’t play that many snaps in a game, but they are very important. We will start to see on Thursday whether Cleveland’s issues were a fluke or an anomaly.
Our Preview’s New York Jets vs. Cleveland Browns Week 3 Betting Picks & Predictions
These teams are at about the same level, in the opinion of this Jets vs Browns preview. The Browns have faced a very tough schedule against the Pittsburgh Steelers and the New Orleans Saints. I do give the Browns an edge of somewhere between a field goal and a touchdown. Their special teams shouldn’t continue be as bad as they have been and Cleveland’s strong defense will be facing a rookie quarterback on the road.
- Pretty much every U.S. betting outlet has the Browns as the favorite by one field goal. The first of our New York Jets vs Cleveland Browns predictions is to go with Cleveland on the spread. The best odds of Browns -3pts @ -120 are available with Intertops, Bookmaker or 5Dimes
- This preview has talked about how both defenses are better than both offenses in the game. However, the posted over/under for this game is very low. I could actually see there being some points scored off of turnovers or special teams. Also, there should be several occasions where one offense begins in great field position because of the opposing offense’s incompetence. Our second betting pick for the game is to bet over 39 total points to be scored @ -110 with Bovada, 5Dimes, Bookmaker or BetOnline.
Jared is a lifelong sports fan and writer whose specialist subject is NBA. A 2015 graduate of Indiana Wesleyan University, with a bachelor’s degree in journalism, Jared has been a sought-after freelance sports writer. In addition to his valuable USA Betting contributions, he has also written for other top media outlets.