Cleveland Browns vs New York Jets Preview: Scouting New York And How They Match Collectively
CLEVELAND, Ohio – Could the Cleveland Browns defeat the Kansas City Chiefs in a playoff game at Arrowhead Stadium in January?
That’s a question I asked myself late Sunday night when the lights came on at MetLife Stadium after Cleveland’s smooth 20-6 dealings with the Giants. The next day, this question, which seemed ridiculous a month ago, gained national attention.
Robert Mays from Athletic coined the “Wild Card Power Rankings” years ago when he joined the wrestler. In his podcast on Sunday night, he mentioned the Browns (along with Indianapolis, Tennessee and Baltimore) as AFC teams with a chance against the reigning Super Bowl champions.
And I agree with him, which again is wild considering the Browns started their farewell week a month ago with a 16-6 home loss to the Raiders.
But the NFL is a week-to-week game. When new information comes in, our perception of teams changes. I firmly believe that I will follow the trends in the three-game league. That said, figuring out what your favorite team has achieved over the past three weeks will give you an understanding of who it is.
Cleveland knocked down Tennessee, earned the nation’s respect last Monday night, and bullied another NFC East opponent. Right now it’s the Browns. A team with a good reputation that successfully throws to win.
Conversely, the Chiefs have unlimited firepower. Beating Patrick Mahomes means outperforming him while dominating possession time and hopefully generating revenue (or two). Fortunately for Browns fans, touchdowns, ball control and cheap bounces are the Browns’ 2020 brand.
So I’m saying there is a chance.
Honest question, which result sounds more likely? The (10-4) Browns defeated Kansas City in the playoffs or the (1-13) Jets win two games in a row and defeat Cleveland this week?
This is a mistake for me. Because that’s the NFL in 2020. There is no normal week of practice. The stadiums are empty and so little is safe every day.
Oh, and after writing most of it, the Bengals stunned Pittsburgh on Monday night. The Browns were able to win the AFC North very well, although the Steelers started 11-0.
I quickly realize that the more we learn, the less we actually know.
What the jets do well
Casual fans probably laughed at her by Sunday. But without Gregg Williams’ amazing zero-lightning decision two weeks ago, New York would have two wins. The last time Cleveland played a team poised to finish in the top two in the 2021 draft, the Browns took a two-point win in Jacksonville.
The point is, throw away everything you think you know about the jets. This team no longer flirts with 0-16 infamy. Instead, third year quarterback Sam Darnold has overtaken Jared Goff and the 9-5 Rams in Los Angeles.
How did you win? Darnold played his best game of 2020, completing 22 of his 31 passes for 207 yards and one touchdown. More importantly, he didn’t flip it against Defense # 3 of the Rams. Jets trainer Adam Gase implemented a quick game plan that neutralized Aaron Donald and the Rams’ rush to pass.
For example, the Jets’ first checkdown touchdown came when Ty Johnson ran back in the sophomore year.
Johnson scored a total of 55 yards (six catches) and that score against LA. He’s a former Lions six-round goal. The Jets challenged him in October and he quickly became a playmaker supporting future Hall of Famer Frank Gore.
Gore rushed for 59 yards and a touchdown to 23 carry. In close games, Gase is involved in running play, although Gore probably shouldn’t be touching the ball as much as he is.
Despite an average of just 6.7 meters per attempt, Darnold made some nice downfield connections. That third quarter dart against Chris Herndon resulted in a Jets field goal, bringing them to 23-10.
Herndon caught three balls for 48 yards, including a long 22nd. Finding balls is key to a Browns defense ranked 30th against opposing tight ends.
While there are some nice parts to the Jets offensive, the best chance New York beats Cleveland is to copy the game plan against Los Angeles to meet the quarterback. The jets popped Goff eight times, creating three sacks and forcing an interception.
Key to the game
When the Rams have to catch up, it forces coach Sean McVay away from his favorite downhill running game and horizontal throws. Cleveland has proven it can come from behind (see Baltimore) but doing so while Baker Mayfield is effectively pressured would make it difficult for Kevin Stefanski.
Defensive Tackle Quinnen Williams ranks fourth on the pass win rate and was effective inside. He controlled the inside line of the Rams with his 6-foot-3,300-pound frame.
Williams also influences running play and ranks # 1 on ESPN’s run win rate. Rams running back Cam Akers hurried 63 meters with 15 porters. It will be interesting to see if Stefanski decides to unleash Nick Chubb or keep slicing and dicing Mayfield. Chubb hasn’t left 100 yards since Week 12.
Mayfield continues to crush zone defense, but the Jets succeeded in falling into the zone against Goff. Here’s a bootleg similar to what Cleveland does, and corner of Bryce Hall makes an excellent game.
Bad teams have to win on the edge to cause disruption. The Jets blocked a punt Sunday and would need something similar to steal a game against the Browns.
Betting on the line
The Jets were double-digit underdogs to the Rams and caused the biggest surprise in two years. As a token of respect, the Browns are only 9.5 favorites on the street. Still, I don’t know how anyone here can comfortably play the jets.
Watch fantasy player
Week 16 usually happens during Fantasy Championships. So if you are reading this and playing for a title, congratulations! For the first time in the year, Mayfield is a must see. Keep Chubb in your lineup and Kareem Hunt has a good chance of recovering.
If you start Jets, you are likely not in your league championship game anyway.
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