With Darnold out, Trevor Siemian will be starting and there's no way I'm picking Trevor Siemian to win a Monday night game against a desperate team.
Quarterbacks beware. Baker Mayfield and Sam Darnold were sacked a combined nine times last week. I think New York is more likely to protect Darnold, but Cleveland has the better pass rush. Quite a conundrum. If this one is going to be low-scoring, though, I’ll grab the points.
This is the tension convention of the week. The Browns (0-1) have massive expectations and got blown out Week 1. The Jets (0-1) also have increased expectations and lost a 16-point lead to the Bills. Whoever loses will be in rough shape with a brutal schedule ahead for each side.
The pendulum has swung from, “the Browns will win the Super Bowl,” to, “same old Browns.” It’s typically wisest to stay centered in the middle during such see-saws. Cleveland has too much talent to not ignite against an opponent soon and an already-banged-up New York team looks like a good candidate.
The line for this game was set in the SuperContest and on the Yahoo Pro Football Pick’em before news that Sam Darnold was out with mono. The line moved to 6.5 in Las Vegas. It’s not often you get 4 free points on an NFL game. It’s OK to take the free square on the bingo card.
Cleveland looked like, well, the Browns in a deflating home loss. The Jets looked like, well, the Jets, in losing a game they led most of the way along with star linebacker C.J. Mosley. More pressure on the Browns to redeem themselves and regain their fans' trust.
Both offensive lines are below average, so the difference will be which QB, Mayfield or Jets backup Trevor Siemian, starting for a mono-ridden Sam Darnold, can extend plays to make big throws downfield. The Browns have a better edge rush and cornerbacks, and they are better positioned to rebound from 0-1.
With Sam Darnold out, Jets coach Adam Gase will be rested in this one. I still think the Jets hang around with Trevor Siemian.
The Browns have to be better than they showed in the opener, right? C.J. Mosley and Quinnen Williams are banged up, which hampers the outstanding middle of the Jets defense.
It’s still a risky proposition to take the Browns as road favorites. The Jets thoroughly outplayed the Bills for three and a half quarters. Sam Darnold could look much better in Week 2.
The Jets already lost to one bad team at home, blowing a lead against the Bills. They might as well make it two bad teams in a row against the Browns, who looked the part of a bad, sloppy, unprepared team in the opener.
Losing Sam Darnold hurts, but Le’Veon Bell looked as elusive as ever in Week 1. If the Jets can pound the rock, control the clock and lean on their defense, then they’ll keep this game close regardless of who’s under center.
Since 2013, the Browns have been road favorites just three times and they’ve failed to cover each time. Cleveland allowed 81 yards to Titans running backs in Week 1, and that might mean big things for Bell. Finally, this Jets defense is for real. They forced four turnovers in Week 1 and could easily have similar success against Mayfield, who imploded in the second half last week with three picks.