Cleveland Browns (0-0) at New York Jets (0-0)
I believe these two teams are similar in their talent level and this line basically does that too, as the home team Jets are favored by 3.5 points. That suggests they’re just a little bit better than the Browns. The problem is that I think it’s the other way around and that the Browns are a little bit better than the Jets, which gives us some line value with the underdog. The Browns have arguably the worst quarterback situation in the NFL with Josh McCown and they have minimal skill position talent around him, but they have an outstanding offensive line and an above average defense and can give teams some trouble. They’re a solid quarterback away from being a playoff caliber team.
The Jets also have their own quarterback problems, with starter Geno Smith out for at least a month with a broken jaw that was suffered in a brawl with his now-ex teammate. As embarrassing as the incident is, Ryan Fitzpatrick, now the starter, is a better quarterback. He’s a 33-year old journeyman, but he’s been a passable quarterback for a few years and is arguably coming off of the best season of his career, though one that was ended prematurely with a broken leg. Still, he’s an upgrade over Smith.
The Jets spent a lot of money fixing up their supporting cast this off-season too, bringing in Brandon Marshall, Darrelle Revis, Antonio Cromartie, and Buster Skrine, all of whom commanded megadeals. Marshall is an upgrade at wide receiver opposite Eric Decker and Revis is still one of the best cornerbacks in the NFL, but Cromartie and Skrine were both overpaid. The team is also without stud defensive end Sheldon Richardson for the first 4 games of the season with a suspension and still has a serious issue at outside linebacker, so their defense isn’t as good as the Browns’ defense. With holes at tight end, guard, and running back, their offense isn’t much better than the Browns’ and their loaded offensive line. I’m not putting money on it, but I like the Browns as 3.5 point underdogs here on the road.
New York Jets 17 Cleveland Browns 16
Pick against the spread: Cleveland +3.5