The Jets (2-2) at the Cleveland Browns (0-4) at FirstEnergy Stadium in Cleveland on Sunday, Oct. 8, at 1 p.m. ET.
Coverage on SNY:
- Jets Pre-Game Live at noon
- Jets Halftime Live on Facebook.com/SNY
- Jets Post-Game Live on SNY immediately following the game
- Jets Post-Game Overtiime on SNY.tv immediately following Post-Game Live
It's Cleveland and it's October, so it must be … 75 and sunny? Sure, I'll buy that. Sprinkle in moderate winds off the lake, too.
WHAT IT MEANS
This whole winning thing with the Jets, is it real or is it fools' gold? If they lose to the 0-4 Browns, maybe we've all been had and we can resume obsessing over the franchise quarterback they're going to draft next April. But if they win and are 3-2 going into next week's home game against the 3-2 Patriots, things will sure be fun. No, they're still not a Super Bowl contender, but the hype around that game will be a very unexpected treat for a team that so many were thinking (hoping) would go 0-16. And my goodness, if they win THAT game … You're right, let's not get ahead of ourselves.
PLAYER TO WATCH
Jets RB Bilal Powell. He has looked like the Jets' best running back for years, yet for some reason he's always remained No. 2 in the rotation. Matt Forte's toe injury changed that, and hopefully the Jets won't look back. No, he's not likely to rush for 163 yards again or rip off a 75-yard touchdown run again. But he's a powerful, versatile back who should -- and likely will -- be the centerpiece of New York's offense. If the Jets can get him going behind what has been a decent offensive line, things will open up for Josh McCown. It won't be easy. The Browns have only given up 87.2 yards per game on the ground, not an easy trick for a team that has been playing from behind most of the season. But the Jets have to ride Powell as far as they can.
MATCHUP TO WATCH
Jets LT Kelvin Beachum vs. Browns DE Myles Garrett. The top pick in the NFL draft -- and a player so good it actually made the Browns pass on taking a much-needed quarterback -- will make his pro debut on Sunday after missing the first four games with an ankle injury. He'll be on what Browns coach Hue Jackson called "a pitch count," but expect him in for a bunch of pass-rush situations. Beachum has been good this season as an anchor on a better-than-expected Jets line, and McCown hasn't faced a ton of pressure. If the veteran QB can stay upright, he can pick apart this Browns defense. If he's healthy, Garrett is the best pass rusher the Browns have, even if he is only going to be deployed on a limited basis.
It would be very Jets-like for this team to soak in the hype of their unexpected, 2-2 start and then go into Cleveland and lose to the 0-4 Browns, dashing all hopes of a big showdown against the New England Patriots next Sunday. But I really think this is a much different Jets team. Yes, they're a little full of themselves after last week's win and the .500 start, but I think Todd Bowles has been able to ground them during the week. I also think they're young and inexperienced enough not to be weighed down by the disasters of Jets past.
What will make the difference here is they are simply better than the Browns and the Jets coaches have been much better at riding the team's strengths: the running attack and an attacking defense. As always with the Jets, they have to avoid the big, catastrophic, game-changing mistake. The good news, though, is the Browns are very prone to that too. You know what else? I'm really looking forward to this left-for-dead Jets team facing a worse-than-expected Patriots team next week, with both teams 3-2. The Jets haven't had a lot of excitement (in a good way) over the last year. They deserve a week of that. … Jets 23, Browns 17.
MY RECORD: 2-2
MY RECORD WHEN PICKING JETS TO WIN: 1-1
MY RECORD WHEN PICKING JETS TO LOSE: 1-1