New York Jets (1-1) at Cleveland Browns (0-1-1)
The Jets got screwed by the schedulers early in the season, as they played a Monday night game week 1 and now have to play a Thursday night game week 3, their 3rd game in 11 days. This scheduling quirk has not happened often, but the track record of teams in that Thursday night game is not good, as they are just 5-8 ATS, finishing an average of 4 points behind the spread, including just 1-5 ATS in the last 6 instances. That record alone doesn’t prove anything, but it makes sense that the Jets would be a little bit more tired than the Browns this week.
Making matters worse, the Jets have to go on the road on a short week. Home teams understandably do better on short weeks than road teams and that’s especially true when you exclude games between familiar division opponents and games where the road team is significantly better than the home team. Non-divisional home favorites are 30-15 ATS on Thursday Night Football (with both teams on short rest) all-time. That’s the case here as the Jets are not a significantly better team than the Browns. I actually have the Browns a point better than the Jets in my rankings, so we’re getting a little bit of line value with the Browns as 3 point home favorites.
The Browns haven’t technically won a game yet, but they are clearly an improved team over last year, coming within a competent kicking unit of possibly being 2-0 against a pair of 2017 playoff teams. The Jets won big week 1 in Detroit, but finished with just the 7th best first down rate differential at +5.94% that week and didn’t have a touchdown drive of more than 6 plays all game, benefitting from short fields off turnovers (5 takeaways), big plays on offense (2 touchdowns of 40+ yards), and return touchdowns (2 return touchdowns), all of which tend to be fluky and inconsistent on a week-to-week basis. Last week, they lost at home to a mediocre Dolphins team. I think the Browns have a good chance to cover the 3 and finally break into the win column this week.
Cleveland Browns 20 New York Jets 13
Pick against the spread: Cleveland -3