Week 2 of the NFL season comes to an end with a surprising Monday night matchup between the Cleveland Browns and New York Jets. Kickoff is at 8:15 EST on Monday, September 16 at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey. The game will be broadcast on ESPN.
The week began with the Browns favored by 2.5 points, but that line has now jumped to 6.5 points The over/under is set at 46 points. Click here for a complete list of the Week 2 betting odds.
In a few short days, things have gone from bad to worse for the Jets. It started when they blew a 16-0 lead last week against the Bills. Despite forcing turnovers, the Jets couldn’t close out what looked like a surefire win, losing 17-16. To add illness to insult, quarterback Sam Darnold has been diagnosed with mono, which will keep him out for the next few weeks. His absence is the reason for the jump in the betting line to 6.5 points.
With backup Trevor Siemian stepping in for Darnold, the Jets face what amounts to a must-win game in Week 2. After this week, the Jets play two of their next four games against the Patriots, with games against the Eagles and Cowboys sandwiched in between. If Adam Gase’s team doesn’t get a win on Monday night, it could be a while until they get one in the win column.
The Browns, meanwhile, are equally eager to bounce back from a disappointing Week 1 loss. Cleveland’s season began with as much hype and expectations that the franchise has seen in decades. However, the Browns fell flat on their face in Week 1, losing 43-13 at home to the Titans.
Much like the Jets, Cleveland’s schedule doesn’t do them any favors. The Browns are set to play the Rams, Ravens, Seahawks, and Patriots all before the end of October. There was a lot of talk of the Browns going to the playoffs before the season. But if Cleveland falls to 0-2 to start the year, that could disappear quickly with the fanbase reverting back to its old ways of always expecting the worse.
I understand that the line jumped when Darnold was ruled out and I can’t deny that the Jets are a little demoralized after last week’s loss. But this is still the Browns being asked to cover 6.5 points on the road on a Monday night. That doesn’t make sense to me, especially since they lost by 30 points last week. If Cleveland wins, it’ll be a tight game, so I like the Jets to at least beat the spread.
I’ll admit that expectations are low for Siemian on Monday. But he’s been a starter in this league before. He’ll also be familiar with Gase’s offense from his days in Denver. The Jets have also brought in Demaryius Thomas with Quincy Enunwa going on IR, giving Siemian a familiar receiver for his Jets debut. In short, it may not be as bad as people think for Siemian and the New York offense.
More importantly, the Jets will be able to lean on Le’Veon Bell. He had 17 carries and six catches for a total of 93 yards last week with him and slot receiver Jamison Crowder being New York’s top two offensive players. With Siemian at quarterback, those two will likely to be featured heavily again, especially Bell, who we know can make something out of nothing as well as any running back in the league.
Meanwhile, we can’t ignore the fact that the Cleveland defense was wrapped to shreds last week by the Titans. If Marcus Mariota and company could put up big numbers against the Browns, it’s not impossible that Siemian can lead a competent offensive effort. To be fair, the Browns have an excellent pass rush that could cause problems for a leaky Jets offensive line. But Cleveland was hurt most last week by running back Derrick Henry, who ran for 84 yards and had a long touchdown catch, which bodes well for Bell this week.
On the other side of the ball, the Cleveland offense didn’t light up the world the way many expected. Baker Mayfield threw three interceptions and was sacked five times. Granted, the Tennessee defense is a good one, but the Jets didn’t look too bad themselves on that side of the ball in Week 1. They were able to force four turnovers and got a lot of hits on Josh Allen while keeping the Bills off the scoreboard until late in the third quarter. Despite a couple of injury concerns, the Jets should be able to take advantage of a weak Cleveland offensive line, which could help create more turnovers this week.
In the end, there just isn’t enough to make me want to eat this many points for the Browns. The Cleveland defense was unimpressive last week, the offensive line is a huge issue, and the Browns hurt themselves with 18 penalties in Week 1. That’s not a team that should be a 6.5-point favorite on the road. The Jets, of course, have their issues too, but this figures to be an ugly, low-scoring game, so I’ll lean toward the Jets as home underdogs.