Cleveland Browns (0-1) at New York Jets (0-1)
Both of these teams came into the season with expectations of being significantly improved, after several key off-season acquisitions. Instead, both started the season by losing at home as favorites. The Browns got blown out 43-13 in a game in which they finished with a -11.31% first down rate differential (4th worst of the week), albeit against a Titans team that has the potential to be very competitive this season if Marcus Mariota can stay healthy. The Jets, meanwhile, only lost by 1 at home to the Bills, but that was despite winning the turnover margin by 3. Teams with a +3 turnover margin only lose on average 10.3% of the time, but the Jets lost the first down rate battle by -12.41% (3rd worst of the week) and lost the game as a result.
Things have gone from bad to worse for the Jets since then, with starting quarterback Sam Darnold going out indefinitely with an illness. Any projections that had the Jets being significantly improved this season involved Darnold taking a big step forward in his second year in the league and now the Jets have to turn to backup caliber quarterback Trevor Siemian. In addition, the Jets will also be without top draft pick Quinnen Williams and key free agent acquisition CJ Mosley in this one due to injury. Those two players are also a big part of why the Jets had increased expectations this season. As a result of all of those absences, this line has shifted from Cleveland -2.5 earlier in the week to Cleveland -7 now.
It’s hard to know what to make of this game. The Browns should be more focused after getting blown out at home week 1, but they may still need more time to gel after all of their off-season acquisitions and they could overlook a Trevor Siemian led Jets team with a much more important measuring stick game on deck against the Rams. Road favorites are 23-50 ATS since 2012 before being home underdogs and even if the Browns don’t end up being home underdogs next week (they’re currently +1.5 on the early line), the logic still stands that this could be a look ahead spot, even after what happened week 1.
On the other hand, the Jets also have a very tough game on deck in New England and underdogs of 7+ are 44-72 ATS since 2012 before being underdogs of 7+ again. The Jets should be more focused, knowing they have to give 110% to compensate for their absences, and we’re getting a little bit of line value with them even with all of their absences, as I have this line calculated at Cleveland -6, but there’s not nearly enough here to bet on them. The Jets are my pick, but for pick ‘em purposes only.
Cleveland Browns 24 New York Jets 19
Pick against the spread: NY Jets +7