With a golden opportunity to make it two straight victories, the (2-5) New York Jets travel to FirstEnergy Stadium in Cleveland, Ohio, to take on the winless Cleveland Browns in Week 8 of the 2016 NFL season. Opening kickoff for this AFC clash is scheduled for Sunday afternoon at 1 p.m. ET and it will be broadcast live on CBS Sports.
The last time these teams met dates back to Sept. 13, 2015 at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey. Led by quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick, Gang Green prevailed by a final score of 31-10. The win extended the Jets’ win streak to three games over the Browns, however, Dawgs lead the head-to-head series 13-10.
Browns Season Record: 0-7-0
To say that Hue Jackson’s first year as Browns head coach has gotten off to a rough start would be a huge understatement. After a tumultuous stint in the nation’s capital, Robert Griffin III joined the Browns in hopes of a fresh start with an organization starving to find a franchise quarterback.
However, the RG3 experiment would be short-lived, as the former second-overall pick would suffer a shoulder injury in the season opener against the Philadelphia Eagles and hasn’t returned since. In his absence, the Browns have tried Josh McCown, Cody Kessler, Charlie Whitehurst, Kevin Hogan and Terrelle Pryor at the signal-caller spot, but to no avail.
Browns on Offense
Shortly after being named the Cleveland Browns’ 16th full-time head coach, Jackson announced that he wanted control of the play calling and did not hire an offensive coordinator. Instead, the former PFWA NFL Assistant Coach of the Year assembled a team of coaches to help run the offense that includes: Pep Hamilton (Associate Head Coach), Al Saunders (Sr. Offensive Assistant/Wide Receivers), Kirby Wilson (Running Backs/Run Game Coordinator), Bob Saunders (Offensive Quality Control/Assistant Wide Receivers Coach), Rock Cartwright (Offensive Quality Control/Assistant Running Backs Coach) and others.
Nevertheless, this unconventional equation hasn’t exactly yielded the results Browns fans expected. Thus, Cleveland’s offense enters Week 8 ranked 27th in points per game (18.6), 16th in total yards (348.6), 24th in passing yards (228.0) and eighth in rushing yards per game (120.6).
Browns on Defense
On the defensive side of the rock, the man running the defense needs no introduction to Cleveland fans, as Jackson brought back defensive coordinator Ray Horton. The man responsible for the greatest defensive turnaround in Browns history employs a multi-front, attack defense that includes 3-4, 4-3, 5-2 and even 4-4 alignments.
Unfortunately, Horton’s scheme hasn’t had the success it enjoyed in 2013, as through seven games, Cleveland’s defense ranks among the worst in the National Football League in every major statistical category. The Jets’ offense will be facing a resistance that’s 30th in the league in points per game (29.6), 31st in total yards (425.6), 29th in passing yards (285.7) and 31st in rushing yards per contest (139.9).
Browns Players to Watch
Offensively, there are two players Bowles and his staff must prepare to deal with: running back Isaiah Crowell and triple-threat monster, Terrelle Pryor Sr. Crowell comes into Week 8 tied for ninth place in the NFL with 495 yards on 95 carried and four touchdowns. Meanwhile, Pryor has the ability to play any of three positions: wide receiver (35 receptions for 431 yards, 3 TDs), running back (8 carried for 21 yards, TD), and/or quarterback (5-for-9 for 41 yards).
On defense, Ryan Fitzpatrick and the rest of the Jets offense must account for the two-headed cornerback duo of Jamar Taylor and Joe Haden, the team leaders in interceptions with two picks apiece. Taylor is also fourth on the team with 29 tackles, while Haden, who’s set to make his return from a groin injury, has 19 tackles despite sitting out the last two weeks.
Jets vs. Browns Outlook
According to NFL Week 8 oddsmakers, Gang Green will travel to the Rock and Roll Capital of the World as the betting favorites. Opening lines for this contest have the Cleveland Browns (+3) listed as three-point underdogs, while the New York Jets (-3) will have a spread of a field goal to satisfy.