Jets vs. Browns Odds & Picks: How To Factor Cleveland’s COVID Situation Into Your Betting Decisions
Diamond Images via Getty Images. Pictured: Baker Mayfield
Jets vs. Browns Odds
The Jets shocked the football world by upsetting the Rams as 17.5-point underdogs last week — now the Jets no longer control their destiny in the race for the No. 1 pick in the 2021 NFL Draft.
Now with the Jaguars in the driver’s seat for the top selection and apparently tanking, the Jets are likely to miss out on Trevor Lawrence. But there are other quarterbacks who will entice New York in this class, so why not try to win another one?
The Browns’ offense has played at an elite level recently, averaging 450 yards of offense the last four weeks. The driving force behind the offensive success has been the play of quarterback Baker Mayfield, whose improved play led the Browns to throw for more than 250 yards in each of the last four games. They had only two such performances prior.
Backing the Browns brings too much risk due to the struggles of their defense and some unfortunate COVID-19-related news. However, we’ve also seen the Jets often look clueless in 2020.
Since trusting either team against the spread is too risky, the total looks to be the better angle. Let’s see where the value lies.
The Browns’ offense relies on its rushing attack, ranking fourth in rushing attempts but 30th in passing attempts. Thanks to the production of running backs Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt, who rank fourth and 19th at the position according Pro Football Focus, a run-first attack has made this offense one to fear.
While the running game has been the backbone of the team, an improved passing attack has taken this offense from good to great. The major difference has been quarterback Mayfield’s play: In the first 10 games of the season, he threw for only a 61% completion rate and 7.0 yards per attempt, but those marks have skyrocketed to 70% and 8.7 over their four-game hot streak.
Unfortunately, as this offense starts clicking, injuries have now struck it. The offensive line has lost right guard Wyatt Teller (ankle) and Teller’s replacement Chris Hubbard (knee/IR).
Worse than relying on a third-string guard, the Browns’ receiving corps was hit hard by COVID-19 tracing: They’ll now be without their three best receivers as Jarvis Landry, Rashard Higgins and Donovan Peoples-Jones were all deemed close contacts. Missing their top receivers, the Browns will likely lean on Chubb and Hunt even more.
Defensively, the Browns are coming off one of their best performances, having held the Giants to 288 yards and just six points. The immediate response: The Giants’ offense ranks second-last in the NFL in both points and yards. While that is true, the Jets are the only team actually worse than the Giants in those categories.
Hopefully, these matchups help build some confidence for the Browns’ playoff run.
New York Jets
Stopping the Rams’ run game and getting an early lead forced the ball into Jared Goff’s hands. This halted their offensive production, with Goff throwing for just 209 yards. Like the Rams, the Browns’ offense relies on a run-first attack paired with play-action passing. The Jets should look to the same game plan if they hope to get their second win.
Unfortunately, New York will need to recreate that success without star defensive tackle Quinnen Williams.
Without Williams, Folorunso Fatukasi will shoulder more of the run-stopping burden — and he ranks eighth at PFF among defensive tackles this season. Creating a pass rush without Williams will be the difficult task since he’s the only Jets player with more than two sacks.
Last week against the Rams, we saw a rare offensive performance during which quarterback Sam Darnold produced a QBR better than 80, according ESPN — his first time doing so since November 2019.
While Darnold’s play was effective, the Jets still only gained 289 yards of total offense. With New York’s offense struggling to move the ball, even on good days, it needs its defense to slow the Browns offense to have a shot at winning.
Missing their top-three receiving options continuing due to COVID-19 tracing will make it difficult for the Browns to continue their dominant stretch of passing the football.
Fortunately, they have an elite run game to turn to: If all goes well for the Browns, their rushing attack will make it so their passing game is unnessrcary.
Without Williams, the Jets defense will have an extra layer of difficulty stopping the Browns. It will be up to Darnold and the Jets offense to put up points and force the Browns to throw. However, with New York’s offense ranked last in yards and points, that will be no easy task.
With Cleveland’s comfort playing conservatively and New York’s offense struggling to do much of anything, the under is the way to go.
Pick: Under 45.5