This Thursday, the Cleveland Browns take on the New York Jets in Week 17. Below, we analyze a few advantages, disadvantages, and general thoughts about the two teams before getting to our predictions for the game.
Another Wrinkle to the Injuries
- Earlier this season, the Browns were dependent on the kicking game (Dustin Hopkins), and punter Corey Bojorquez has also done a solid job most of the season with field position. On a short week, they are both out. It's not ideal to have one of them out, let alone both of them out. You also have to think about the holder/kicker chemistry.
- The bright side to things is that Cleveland stumbled into a solid replacement kicker in Riley Patterson, who is 58-of-66 (88%) in three seasons.
- Additionally, the Jets feature the worst offense in the NFL, with very little downfield passing game. Teams like that have been smothered by the Browns' defense this year, which should hopefully lessen the need to have a clutch field goal or clutch punt, per se.
The Second Easiest Game?
- If the game against the Arizona Cardinals was the easiest game yet, then this one could be up there as the second-easiest game. If you recall against the Cardinals, they literally could do nothing on offense all game, which eventually allowed the Browns to accumulate points for the easy win. I see the Jets having a similar type of struggle against the Browns' defense. They utilize a short passing game and have a lackluster offensive line. The Browns will feast on that all game long.
- The Browns definitely won't be overlooking the Jets, though. They have six wins under their belt, which is nothing to sneeze at. But when they're bad, they're bad, like when they were shut out by the Dolphins 30-0 two weeks ago.
- The main concern, as has been the case in a handful of games this year, would be the offense shooting themselves in the foot. This is by far the best defense that Joe Flacco will have faced, especially with the cornerbacks the Jets have. The throws that he thrived with in the past three weeks might not be there, so what is the result of that? Does Flacco still make clutch throws? Does it throw him off his game?
- Although you still want the Browns' offense to be aggressive, I'm visualizing this as the type of week where you get a lot of short fields on offense, and just keep chipping away. The running game should have a little more room to run too.
- The Browns have played really well at home (7-1), while the Jets are 2-4 on the road.
- The Jets may have some kicker troubles of their own, as Greg Zuerlein is questionable.
- According to DraftKings Sportsbook, the Browns are 7.5 point favorites against the Jets.
Here are predictions from multiple staff members at DBN.
Chris Pokorny: “The Jets will have a tough time getting anything going, and Cleveland will be amped up to clinch a playoff spot.” Browns 27, Jets 6
Thomas Moore: “The journey began a little more than five months ago when the Cleveland Browns opened training camp at The Greenbrier Resort in West Virginia. Everything that has gone on since then - the quarterback carousel, the season-ending injuries, and the improbable victories - should hit the next milestone on Thursday night when the Browns host the New York Jets. The task at hand is clear - win in front of what will be a home crowd in a celebratory mood - and the Browns officially and fully secure a spot in the AFC playoffs. It may not be the matchup that the league office expected when the schedule was announced last spring, but it is one that should make for a memorable night in Cleveland as long as the Browns hold up their end of the bargain.” Browns 20, Jets 7
Barry Shuck: “The Browns have done a job of the next man up. It is simply amazing. They completely stonewalled a talented Houston Texans team that was hunting a playoff berth, and had the home stadium advantage. For me, what would this roster look like if every single player on the IR list would suddenly come back and play? The Jets have a very good defense despite their offense having so many issues. QB Joe Flacco will need another record-setting day for WR Amari Cooper and the offensive line is surprising everyone especially both tackle positions.” Browns 34, Jets 13
Jared Mueller: “At this point, it doesn’t matter who actually plays for the Browns on Thursday Night Football. The feeling of a team of destiny is real and a standalone game at home is a perfect way to clinch a playoff spot and keep hopes for the AFC North and #1 seed slightly alive.
Most TNF games are lower scoring and this one seems likely to meet that mark as well, especially with the unknown kicker situation for both teams (Dustin Hopkins out, Greg Zuerlein questionable).” Browns 20, Jets 14
Curtiss Brown: “I remember the Week 2 game in which the Browns lost that game in embarrassing fashion. Safe to say that game was the turning point for the franchise as the team is on the cusp of clinching a playoff berth after a season filled with injuries and uncertainty. As for the Jets, well this team’s season was over when Aaron Rodgers went down and now the franchise is under control of Rodgers in terms of his influence so the team is kinda screwed for their future. Mishandled their backup QB situation (can’t relate), and didn’t invest in their offensive line, this team was more flawed if anything. Never understood the hype the team got during the offseason but that’s another topic for another day.Garrett Wilson and Breece Hall are the only threats offensively but the running game for New York is hit or miss so expect Hall to be active in the passing game.
As far as their defense goes, it’s pretty self explanatory. Avoid Sauce Gardner and don’t turn the ball over. The defense is good don’t get me wrong but the run defense is suspect. Cleveland just needs to handle business and I think they will. Last home and Thursday night game in front of a national audience? Oh yeah you can flex your muscles and show people this team is a dangerous team in the postseason. Handle business and let’s celebrate afterwards. Rent is due.” Browns 30, Jets 14
Matt Wood: “ime to lock it up by the lake!! The Browns have some serious mojo and the entire country will see it come Thursday night.
The Jets were the media darlin at the start of the year but a QB injury killed that. Couldn’t be my team… BUT the Jets do have some weapons on offense in Wilson and Hall. I think Hall will get plenty of catches as whatever QB the Jets offer up will be running for his life.
Browns flex their muscle and just smother the J-E-T-S and set up a chance to rest everyone the final week of the season.” Browns 27, Jets 0
Ezweav: “It’s really hard not to feel overconfident in this one. Yes, ‘any given Sunday’ (or Thursday, as it were) but to be honest this feels like a homecoming game for the good guys.
The Jets have one of the worst offenses in football, and Cleveland has the best defense. Both of these are likely to be accentuated by a raucous home crowd anticipating a playoff berth which will be officially clinched by the end of the night.
New York’s defense is good but this is a team playing out the string and you can see one or two things going wrong for them early and they just getting overwhelmed. Anything’s possible (especially this year) but this being close doesn’t seem likely.
(Season long shouting out to NTN continues)” Browns 11, Jets 5
Who do you think will win, Browns fans? Let us know in the comments section below.