The New York Jets are in the familiar position of 0-1 to start a season. The Cleveland Browns can usually relate, but not this year after they won their first opener since 2004 with a narrow escape in Carolina in Week 1.
The Jets are a 6.5-point underdog in Cleveland at many of the top-rated sportsbooks. Can Robert Saleh get the Jets on the winning path with an upset in a battle of backup quarterbacks?
Since 2021, the Jets are 2-5 ATS as a road underdog, but Kevin Stefanski’s Browns are only 2-6 ATS as a home favorite in that time.
New York Jets vs. Cleveland Browns
Sunday, September 18, 2022 – 01:00 PM EDT at FirstEnergy Stadium
Is Joe Flacco the Best Quarterback in This Matchup?
Veteran quarterback Joe Flacco is no stranger to playing in Cleveland. With the Jets playing the entire AFC North to start the 2022 season, Flacco is probably one of the best NFL pick backup options while Zach Wilson recovers. Flacco played against the Ravens for the first time ever on Sunday and things did not go well.
He threw the ball 59 times, but Flacco’s 37 completions gained 307 yards, the fewest yards in NFL history in a game with 37 completions. Flacco dinked and dunked his way to a garbage-time touchdown, the only one of the game for the Jets in a 24-9 loss. The Jets did not have a 25-yard play in the game against a prepared Baltimore defense.
It was not a good offensive performance, but the Jets did miss a 45-yard field goal, Tyler Conklin fumbled a catch that turned a third-down conversion into a fourth-down field goal try, and rookie back Breece Hall fumbled in the red zone three plays into the fourth quarter. None of that was on the quarterback.
Flacco will have to take some more deep shots against the Browns, who allowed to 50-yard pass plays to Baker Mayfield, including a 75-yard touchdown pass on Sunday.
Browns Tried Hiding Jacoby Brissett in Carolina
While the Jets showed confidence in Flacco to carry the offense, the Browns did their best to hide and coddle Jacoby Brissett as he made his first start with the team for the suspended Deshaun Watson.
Brissett managed just 147 passing yards, and his 4.3 yards per attempt was the lowest average he’s ever had in a start, excluding any games played in a Buffalo snowstorm. That was despite the offense running for 207 yards to support him with great days by
Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt. Brissett only connected with new wideout Amari Cooper three times for 17 yards.
That is usually losing football at the quarterback position, but that is why it took a late 58-yard field goal by a rookie kicker for the Browns to escape with a 26-24 win. At least Brissett only took one sack and avoided turnovers.
Jets Can Keep It Close
One thing the Jets did well against Baltimore was contain the running game that is usually so explosive from that offense. Lamar Jackson was held to 17 yards on six carries.
But maybe the more surprising part is that the backfield only had 15 carries for 46 yards.
This is usually a team that shows up in the building with 100 rushing yards in the bank, but that was not the case on Sunday.
If the Jets can deal with better quality backs in Chubb and Hunt and keep them under 120 yards, then the game could be close in the end, if not winnable.
What to Do and What to Avoid
The Jets need to sell out to stop the run as the Cleveland passing game does not look sharp yet. It may never get there with Brissett and a revamped receiving corps this year.
Brissett averaged 3.5 YAC/completion in Carolina, the second-lowest average this week according to Pro Football Reference. The Jets just need to avoid getting gashed on the ground.
Also, the Jets could stand to use a better pass-run balance against a Cleveland team that should not score a ton of points. Even with a 10-3 deficit at halftime against Baltimore, the Jets had 22 passes to 13 runs in the first half.
They were averaging 4.4 yards per pass and 5.7 yards per run. But they abandoned the run after falling behind 24-3 in the third quarter.
Score Prediction and NFL Picks
Flacco is 17-3 against the Browns, never losing by more than six points in any game. Unfortunately, he won’t have the support of the Ravens on his side, and he has lost his last eight starts going back to 2019.
But the Browns were so unimpressive in Carolina that it feels like a game where the Jets could surprise people. Remember, the Jets overcame longer NFL odds by beating the Titans (No. 1 seed) and Bengals (AFC champions) last year.
This would be Saleh’s third-best win and far from the level of those two upsets. He needs another win very soon or the hot seat is going to warm up.
*The line and/or odds on picks in this article might have moved since the content was commissioned. For updated line movements, visit BMR’s free betting odds product.