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Browns Preview: Week 3 – False Hope?

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The Browns should probably be 2-0. That thought has been ruining me all week. They’re just a good kicker away from being undefeated. Sigh.

Today is a very, very weird day. The Browns play the Jets tonight at home, on FOX, in primetime and enter the game… wait for it… as the favorites. It’s wild, I know, but the Browns are favored to win this game. There are even fans who are convinced they’re going to actually win! Shit, I even dressed up as Baker Mayfield dressed up as Browns’ general manager John Dorsey.

A mere 635 days ago, the Browns took down the Chargers for what would end up being their last regular season victory. Will the road end tonight? Who knows. One thing is for sure, though: the Browns’ winless streak on Sundays will continue.

That’s right, the Browns still have a long streak to beat even if they win tonight. Their last win on a Sunday was against the 49ers, with Johnny Manziel at quarterback, back in 2015. That was 1,012 days ago.

Why do we do this to ourselves? Josh Gordon got traded this week too. He’s going to kill it on the Patriots and just sink me even further into the ground.

Nevertheless, time to get up, because it’s gameday and the Browns are finally wearing their color rush jerseys after all these years.

Those are 100 times better than their normal jerseys. Damn.

Preview_Gambling

As I said up top, the Browns are the favorites to beat the Jets tonight. They’re only 3 to 3.5 favorites depending on where you bet, so obviously, this game is a virtual toss-up.

Many people are saying it’s wild to throw money down on a team favored to win that hasn’t won in literally years, and I don’t think that’s too crazy of a comment. Betting on the Browns has made sense so far this year. Heck, they’re 2-0 against the spread, but this is a different territory.

I believe Big Cat and Dave split on their thoughts about this game, but the video hasn’t been released yet. Bottom line, it’s not an easy bet. I do think the Browns are a better overall team with a decent defense, but the stench of losing haunts them. Even the over is a struggle for me right now because I think 40 is not that much, but if both defenses show up, it’ll be a struggle. This isn’t easy!
ATS PICK: Browns -3.0, Over 40

Preview_Injury

The Browns are still fairly injured. It doesn’t help to have a short week, either. Last week the Browns were without Christian Kirksey, Josh Gordon, and Emmanuel Ogbah. I panicked, I thought they were going to get trounced. They didn’t and they, honestly, should’ve won the game.

This week? Well, it’s unlikely any of those guys are going to play. Christian Kirksey is not expected to play but hasn’t been ruled out, Emmanuel Ogbah has been ruled out already and Josh Gordon doesn’t even play for the team anymore.

The defensive line was fantastic against the Saints last week, even in the absence of Emmanuel Ogbah. Not only did Myles Garrett cause a ton of commotion for the Saints, but defensive tackle Larry Ogunjobi recorded three sacks on Drew Brees.

Luckily for the Browns, Jarvis Landry and safety Damarious Randall have gone from questionable to active and are expected to play.

The Jets, meanwhile, have one notable injury with safety Marcus Maye ruled out for the game.

Preview_History

The Browns and Jets are tied at 12 wins a piece in their regular season history, with Cleveland holding a 1-0 record in the Playoffs.

With these two teams, the most famous meeting came back in their first head-to-head on September 21, 1970. The Browns and Jets matched up in the first ever Monday Night Football telecast. Their 25th meeting comes 48 years later and once again in primetime.

It has been the Jets who have dominated this series in recent years. They have beaten the Browns five consecutive times since 2010, with three wins coming in Cleveland.

JEFF’S FUN PREVIOUS MATCHUP STORY 

The first win for the Jets in their current five-game winning streak happened on November 14, 2010, in a thrilling overtime finish. The Jets were 6-2 at that point in the season and the Browns were 3-5, coming off shocking wins over the Saints and Patriots. There was a lot of hype for this game, as the then-Browns defensive coordinator Rob Ryan was facing off against his brother, then-Jets head coach Rex Ryan.

Some people felt that the Browns could enter the playoff picture (absurd at the time and now) if they won the game. Colt McCoy found Mohamed Massaquoi for a game-tying touchdown in the final minute of regulation. The Browns had a huge fumble in Jets territory in overtime, the Jets missed a field goal and the Browns couldn’t convert an interception into points. It seemed as though the game was headed for a tie… well, until this happened…

Just another game in a long line of sad moments.

Preview_Offense

Last week was a tough one for the Browns’ offense, even though they flashed some great moments. The offensive line was ravaged by the Saints stacking the box, there were a ton of drops and Tyrod Taylor threw an untimely interception. The Jets’ defense isn’t all that bad and has looked solid overall through the first two weeks of the season. There could be ups and downs, but the Jets won’t be a pushover for the Browns’ offense.

Preview_OFFStarters

There is no change this week with the starting offense. Though, I do wonder if Nick Chubb finds the ball more out of the backfield. Whenever Chubb and Carlos Hyde (happy birthday to him by the way) split carries on drives, the Browns seem to find some success.

Tyrod wasn’t all that terrible against the Saints. He played exactly how you would expect him to play. It was a conservative effort and he took some shots downfield. I would like him to take more chances to pick up big chunks because he has found the likes of Landry, Callaway and Higgins in stride a few times this season.

But, I know that just isn’t what one should expect from Tyrod. The big thing that needs to change is the late-game interceptions. He has now tossed two 4th quarter interceptions with the Browns having a chance to ice the game. For a guy whose best trait is not turning the ball over, this just can’t happen.

For the receivers this week, my eyes will be on David Njoku. The drops have plagued the massive tight end from getting anything going so far this season.

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At 6’4” and 246 pounds, Njoku is a huge target, but he has been a liability so far for Tyrod. The second-year player had a great preseason, but it’s time for him to start making plays. I know he has it and a big bounce-back game tonight would go a long way in helping this offense wake up a bit.

I also want to note how great it has been to see how Todd Haley incorporates Jarvis Landry into the offense. Many people called him overrated when he got traded to the Browns, but he has been a stud so far.

It was reported that Landry had asked for a bigger arsenal of routes for him to run in Miami, but he never got them. The Browns don’t have a ton of chemistry on offense yet, but I love everything I have seen from Landry, and it appears they’re giving him room to be even better.

The offensive line was okay again last week. I thought they had a rough first half, but the second half it seemed as though Tyrod had plenty more time to throw the football. The running game was shaky, but the Saints attacked the run game from the get-go. I don’t think the offensive line is as much of a weakness as I had expected them to be going into the season.

One player to watch for the Jets tonight is former Browns cornerback Buster Skrine. He hasn’t been all that good this year and I expect Todd Haley to target him a bunch tonight.

Preview_Defense

As I mentioned in the injury section, the defense won’t be all that different this week. But I did slot Anthony Zettel, recently picked up after being released by the Lions, into where I had Chad Thomas starting for Emmanuel Ogbah last week. The Browns defense has a league-best eight takeaways and has become a sneaky unexpected strength.

Preview_DEFStarters

While Zettel may end up getting the start, Browns’ fans have their eyes set on stud rookie, Genard Avery. The fifth-round pick out of Memphis has been the best rookie edge rusher through two games this season. Without Emmauel Ogbah, the Browns need someone to step up and Avery seems to be that guy.

It’s scary to think about what the Browns’ defensive line can become once Ogbah comes back from injury. Between Myles Garrett, Larry Ogunjobi and Avery, the Browns will have a great shot at putting pressure on Sam Darnold tonight. The Jets’ offensive line had some struggles last week against Miami.

I expect a ton of different looks and blitzes tonight from everyone’s favorite lunatic, Gregg Williams. The Browns absolutely must make Darnold’s life a living hell with pressure and hands in his face. It goes without saying that the secondary needs to feast against the rookie quarterback. He’s thrown three interceptions to start the season and if the defensive line forces some tough throws, the Browns secondary must follow through and wreak havoc. The Browns can make this an easy win if they cause chaos for Darnold.

Lastly, the Browns’ linebackers will have to try and stop their former teammate Isaiah Crowell in a “revenge game.” I am sure it isn’t really a revenge game, but I am going to call it that just to make this more fun.

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Against the Saints, the Browns bottled up Alvin Kamara, but a lot of that was in large part due to how great the defensive line played. The linebackers were certainly better than they were against Pittsburgh, but I still saw plenty of whiffed tackles.

Bottom line, tonight hinges a lot on if the Browns’ defense can keep it up tonight. I am not yet convinced the offense is ready to open the floodgates and score, so Gregg Williams’ guys need to show out.

Preview_OneThing

Will the Browns make a fucking kick?

That’s the Browns’ new kicker. His name is Greg Joseph. You never trust a man with two first names, that’s the rule. So, I will have to wait and see with this guy until he kicks the football.

Preview_Everything

I honestly cannot remember the last time Joe Buck did a regular season Browns game. He is doing one tonight and I am excited about it.

You scrolled this far, so you may as well watch this awesome Blind Cereal Taste Test with the Mickstape guys.

I like mint chocolate, but that cereal was disgusting.

Preview_Prediction

I have confidence tonight. That’s never really a good sign. I think if the defense plays as good as they have so far, the Browns will be very hard to beat. But until they grab a win and show the offense can consistently move the football, I just don’t have the stones to project a victory.

Nah, screw it. Go Browns.
GAME PREDICTION: Browns beat the Jets, 28-14