If it’s not one thing it’s another as the Cleveland Browns try to end that horrible winless streak that has reached 19 games after a gut-wrenching loss to the Saints. The defense did a solid job on New Orleans’ fast-break offense and Tyrod Taylor looked more comfortable as the starter. But special teams was the culprit last Sunday and the Browns will be in the market for a new kicker after Zane Gonzalez missed a pair of extra points and field goals in the three-point loss. The Browns need to stop Sam Darnold and the New York Jets in Week 3 in order to crack the win column.
Watch this regular season Week 3 matchup live on Thursday, September 20, 2018, at 8:30 p.m. ET at FirstEnergy Field.
NFL Opening Odds at BookMaker.eu
New York Jets +3
Cleveland Browns -3
The line hit the board at Cleveland -3 and stayed there through the first day despite the home team getting some early love at the betting window. They haven’t won a game this season, but the Browns have been good to their backers with a pair of covers. Should the line hold it would be the first time the Browns played as a favorite in almost a year. They are just 1-5 SU and ATS in their last six games when giving points. The total was wagered down a point shortly after opening.
Neal Sterling – The Jets have used plenty of three-tight end sets early this season, mainly to protect Sam Darnold and assist in the ground game. And they could be down one of their position players after Sterling left the Dolphins game with a concussion in the second quarter and didn’t return. Sterling didn’t have a catch last week, but he is considered the team’s best blocking tight end and his absence may affect the ground game.
Emmanuel Ogbah – Cleveland’s pass rush will be impacted by the absence of Ogbah, who missed the last game while dealing with an ankle injury. A disruptive force from the end, Ogbah had four sack and two forced fumbles last season in 10 games, and will team with Myles Garrett to give the Browns a potent duo of edge rushers to harass opposing quarterbacks.
Player to Watch
Darnold’s second game got off to a better start, but the ending was much worse. Six days after his storybook debut, there were two more interceptions, some poor managing of the clock, and a failure to consistently move the offense as the No. 3 overall pick’s Gotham premiere ended with a whimper. I know why Todd Bowles elected to go with his rookie instead of taking the safe route with veteran Josh McCown. The Jets are in the middle of a rebuild and not expected to contend, so why not give the kid a chance to grow with some on the job training.
Darnold threw for 334 yards and a touchdown, but two interceptions halted drives and one in the red zone was especially damaging. His completed pass short of the end zone to end the first half was another rookie mistake and the gaffes cost the Jets potentially 13 points. Darnold owned up to the miscues after the game and as long as he learns from them and gets better every week, the Jets will be fine. If not? Well it could be a long season.
16.7 – Getting in the red zone doesn’t always mean points, just ask the Jets about that. They converted their first red zone trip of the season into a touchdown in the opener but they’ve been unable to score six points in their last five visits inside their opponents 20-yard line, scoring just two field goals in those trips.
Darnold was responsible for the Jets coming away empty handed on Sunday, mismanaging the clock at the end the first half and throwing an end zone interception in the third quarter. Successful on just 1 of 6 red zone trips, the Jets are converting at an awful 16.7 percent.
Free ATS Pick
After a couple of near-misses against strong teams, the Browns have their best opportunity to get the proverbial monkey off their back. It’s just a matter of time before they break the 19-game winless spell, and that time is now. Their defense and ground game have been good, Taylor settled in against the Saints, and now if they can get the kicking figured out a win is theirs for the taking.
I like where the Jets are headed and Darnold is going to be a good one, but they will experience some growing pains throughout the season and it’s just time for Cleveland to end this thing. Watch for the Browns to put this one away backed by some heroics from their defense. Darnold has given the ball away a few times and Cleveland will take advantage of mistakes to cash in. It’ll be tight, but the Browns get that elusive win while cashing the over on a relatively small total.
NFL Betting Odds: Browns 24, Jets 23
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