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Browns vs Jets: 3 keys for a Cleveland victory to clinch a playoff spot

Cleveland can clinch the playoffs with a win tonight but a few keys stand in the way

Cleveland Browns v Houston Texans Photo by Cooper Neill/Getty Images

Week 17. Home finale. A playoff berth at stake. The Cleveland Browns will face off against the New York Jets on Thursday night.

The last time these two teams played, current Browns quarterback Joe Flacco was on the opposite side and led an improbable come-from-behind victory against the Cleveland Browns in Week 2 of the 2022 season.

It’s a must-win for Cleveland in terms of wrapping up a playoff berth and potentially resting their starters for Week 18, if the AFC North and top seed in the AFC is out of reach.

After spending time on Fox, CBS and ESPN this season, Cleveland will be featured on Amazon Prime (the streaming service) but the game will be televised locally on WEWS Channel 5. Kickoff is at 8:15 PM with Al Michaels, Kirk Herbstreit & Kaylee Hartung calling the game.

Jets Offensive Line vs Browns defensive line

One of the matchups that will be very important to watch is the New York offensive line going up against the Cleveland defensive line. For the Jets, their offensive line is rough. With their line has dealt with its share of injuries, the unit isn’t good:

  • 26th in Pass Block win rate
  • 31st in Run Block win rate

On the other side, Cleveland’s defensive line is one of the better ones in the entire league. Despite missing a few key players in defensive tackle Maurice Hurst and defensive end Ogbo Okoronkwo, this unit is one of the best of the best.

It might be a mismatch on paper, but if you turn on the film the Jets offensive line is as the stats say. In pass protection, the group is below average and their run blocking isn’t great either. Look for defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz to utilize different fronts to cause issues for this maligned offensive line. Defensive end and current Defensive Player of the Year frontrunner Myles Garrett is due for a sack or two and this game could be the one he breaks through.

How will the Browns offensive tackles hold up against the Jets defensive line

Highlighting both sides of the ball for both teams in this matchup, this time focusing on the Browns backup tackles against the Jets defensive line. Make no mistake, the Jets defensive line has some solid guys on the front. They vary in terms of skill set and versatility.

On the interior, outside of defensive tackle Quinnen Williams there isn’t much depth in the interior (mainly due to injuries) but defensive ends Bryce Huff, Jermaine Johnson II and rookie Will McDonald IV can cause issues.

Backup tackles James Hudson and Geron Christian have had their fair share of struggles (mainly Hudson) but it’s imperative that they keep Flacco clean, considering how rookie Dorian Thompson Robinson is on injured reserve and they are one injury away from P.J. Walker getting reps.

Cleveland can attempt to run the ball against this front as they are vulnerable but eyes should be focused on the two tackles against these talented edge rushers of New York.

How will the kicking game look without kicker Dustin Hopkins

Being a kicker in the NFL is not an easy task. It’s difficult. One of the many reasons Cleveland chose to move off Cade York and traded for Dustin Hopkins is because the team needed a reliable kicker. Hopkins has been reliable the entire season but after suffering a hamstring injury last Sunday after trying to tackle Houston Texans running back Dameon Pierce on kickoff, he is ruled out for this game against the Jets.

Enter Riley Patterson. Patterson, formerly with the Detroit Lions has bounced around the league and was recently signed to the practice squad this week.

As the numbers show, Patterson is pretty good but kicking in Northeast Ohio is difficult. Considering how the stadium is right on the lake, it’s not easy considering the wind and how it can affect a kicker’s ability to kick field goals and extra points.

It’s curious to see how Patterson handles these weather conditions and if it comes down to a game-winning field goal, can Patterson come through? We shall see.

What do you think will be the key to a Browns victory tonight?