• Despite a 19-game winless streak, Cleveland is favored at home against the Jets on Thursday night. But bettors shouldn't count out rookie QB Sam Darnold or New York's strong defense.
By Scott Gramling
September 17, 2018

New York Jets at Cleveland Browns (-3)

Thu. 9/20, 8:20 p.m. ET

Three things you need to know before betting on Jets-Browns:

1. While it might come as a bit of a surprise to some that a team in the midst of a 19-game winless streak (0-18-1) that has one straight-up win over its past 37 games is somehow favored to win an NFL regular season game, the Browns have managed to cover the spread in each of their first two games for the first time since 2014. Coincidentally, that season began with a season opener against Pittsburgh followed by a game against New Orleans, which are the same teams against which Cleveland has nearly won a game over the past couple of Sundays for the first time since 2016. The only time the Browns have been favored during this current 37-game stretch was when they were laying a point in Week 3 last season in what turned out to be a 31-28 road loss to the Jacoby Brissett-led Colts. As bad a bet as Cleveland has been while going 6-12-1 over its past 19 road games, the team has been an even worse bet at home, where the Browns have gone 4-14 against the spread.

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2. It’s been quarterback Sam Darnold who’s been garnering the bulk of the attention directed the Jets’ way so far this season, and understandably so. As an encore to a solid performance in a Week 1 Monday night trouncing of the Lions in Detroit, the 21-year-old became the youngest NFL player ever to throw for 300 or more yards in a game in Sunday’s loss to the Dolphins. The strength of the Jets, however, has been the team’s defense, which is one of only five in the NFL along with the Redskins, Rams, Ravens and Cowboys to have allowed fewer than 600 total yards through two games. While the other four teams have accumulated their numbers by facing one of the NFL’s bottom-four offenses (the Redskins and Rams have each faced the Cardinals while the Ravens have played the Bills and the Cowboys have played the Giants), Gang Green has gone up against a Miami team that racked up 342 yards in a season-opening win against Tennessee and a Detroit squad that gained 427 yards of offense in this past Sunday’s loss in San Francisco.

3. Only the Giants, Cardinals and Bills are averaging fewer yards per play than the 4.51 the Browns are averaging through two games. The Browns managed only 18 points on Sunday against a Saints defense that just one week prior surrendered 48 points and 529 total yards at home to a Ryan Fitzpatrick-led Buccaneers offense. The Jets have won and covered each of their past five meetings with the Browns, which includes games played in Cleveland each of the past two seasons. The Browns are 1-8 against the spread under head coach Hue Jackson when coming off a loss by fewer than seven points, which includes an 0-6 ATS mark when coming off a loss by three points or fewer.

Pick: New York +3

Confidence Level: High (on a scale of Low/Moderate/High/Very High/Extremely High)

Eagle (-2)
Birdie (-1)
Bogey (+1)
Double Bogey (+2)