Jets-Browns Betting Preview: Is Now the Time to Back the Browns?

Jets-Browns Betting Preview: Is Now the Time to Back the Browns? article feature image

Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: Tyrod Taylor

Betting odds: New York Jets at Cleveland Browns

  • Spread: Browns -3
  • Over/Under: 41
  • Time: 8:20 p.m. ET
  • TV channel: NFL Network

>> All odds as of 1 p.m. ET on Thursday. Download The Action Network App to get real-time NFL odds and track your bets

Betting market: Not only are the Browns favored for the first time in the Hue Jackson era, but bettors are willingly laying the points. Sixty-one percent of spread tickets and 78% of dollars wagered have come in on Cleveland as of this writing (see live data here).

The line remains where it opened at -3, but the -115 vig suggests that books are, in fact, heavier on the Browns.

The closest the Jackson-coached Browns have come to being favorites before was against the Colts in Week 3 of 2017, opening -1 at Pinnacle before closing as 1-point underdogs. PJ Walsh

Did you know? The Browns have not received the majority of spread tickets as a favorite since Nov. 30, 2015, when Josh McCown started at home against Matt Schaub and the Ravens. (The Browns lost 33-27.) Evan Abrams

Weather report: The forecast calls for average wind speeds of 11 mph during this Thursday night matchup. In windy games (10 mph or stronger), the under is 439-350-10 (56%) since 2003. John Ewing

Trends to know: The Browns are an unlikely favorite. Cleveland is undefeated against the spread (2-0) but currently has a negative margin of victory this season at -1.5 points per game.

  • Since 2010, only 12 teams have been favored when playing with a negative point differential. Every single one has finished the game within one score, with an average margin of victory of +7.1 in the 12 games.
  • The 12 teams are 8-4 straight-up and 6-4-2 ATS. The four losses were by 4, 3, 2 and 4 points.

The Browns played two games in this spot in 2014 against the Steelers and Titans. Cleveland won both. Abrams

Injury watch: The Jets are again expected to be without safety Marcus Maye (foot, doubtful). Linebacker Josh Martin (concussion, out) and tight end Neal Sterling (concussion, out) will also be sidelined.

The good news for New York is that left guard James Carpenter (foot) and left tackle Kelvin Beachum (foot) practiced in full on Tuesday and Wednesday and will suit up Thursday night.

The Browns have an array of injuries on both sides of the ball. Tight end Seth DeValve (hamstring, out), linebacker Christian Kirksey (shoulder/ankle, doubtful) and defensive end Emmanuel Ogbah (ankle, out) won’t be suiting up against the Jets, but safety Damarious Randall (heel, questionable) at least has a chance to play despite not practicing all week.

Wide receiver Jarvis Landry (knee, questionable) is the Browns’ main concern, although he’s tentatively expected to suit up after managing to practice in a limited fashion this week. Ian Hartitz

DFS edge: New team, same old Landry. The Browns’ undisputed No. 1 receiver is one of only 11 wide receivers with a target share above 30% this season, as Tyrod Taylor has fed Landry 22 targets through two weeks.

This workload has helped Landry average 16.3 DraftKings points per game with a +3.7 Plus/Minus so far this season, and he’s set up especially well Thursday night against a Jets defense that featured Buster Skrine in the slot — Pro Football Focus’ 90th-ranked cornerback out of 103 qualified players this season.

Landry has averaged 17.2 DraftKings PPG with a +2.8 Plus/Minus in eight career matchups against the Jets. Hartitz

Bet to watch: Browns -3

The Browns defense is legit. It not only leads the league in takeaways (8), but it’s also tied for fifth with seven sacks. Teams will struggle to run the ball on Cleveland — just like they did last year, when the Browns finished second in the NFL at only 3.4 yards per rush.

Don’t expect the Jets’ mediocre (at best) running game to get much going on the ground. This should lead to many obvious passing downs, which is where rookie Sam Darnold will get into trouble.

That was exactly what happened last week against Miami. New York ran the ball only 19 times for 42 yards, which ultimately led to three turnovers and three sacks.

The Jets offense will look much more like the offense we saw in Week 2 than we did in Week 1 against a nonexistent Lions defense.

The question remains whether the Browns can turn turnovers into points? So far, they’ve converted those eight turnovers into only 10 points, seven of which came on a 1-yard touchdown drive.

Having a new kicker should at least help.

Meanwhile, if there’s one thing Taylor excels at, it’s not turning the ball over. That should please all contrarian bettors who have seen turnovers kill Browns covers over the past few seasons.

Former Browns QB DeShone Kizer had the highest interception rate (4.6%) of all QBs in 2017. Who had the lowest? You guessed it: Taylor, with a paltry 1.0%. (Both played 15 games.)

When in doubt, Taylor will throw it away or tuck it and will allow that extremely underrated Browns defense to go to work.

A short week should also limit the coaching advantage opposing teams usually have over Jackson & Co. It’s also the third game in 11 days for the Jets, two of which will be on the road — not easy for a young team playing a franchise that’s looking for its first win since Christmas Eve in 2016.

Merry Christmas, Cleveland. I think the streak ends on Thursday night.

All you had to do was wait 635 days.Stuckey


Editor’s note: The opinions on this game are from the individual writers and are based on their research, analysis and perspective. They are independent of, and may not always match with, the algorithm-driven Best Bets from Sports Insights.