In a surprising twist, the early-season results have made this Thursday’s matchup between the New York Jets and Cleveland Browns one of the more compelling games on the NFL Week 3 betting board. Here’s a look at this primetime showdown as well as how to bet the spread and total for Thursday Night Football:
Browns a rare favorite
The Cleveland Browns are a rare favorite for this Thursday night game against the visiting Jets. Cleveland has been a home fave just four times since 2015, spitting those games 2-2 against the spread. It’s fair to stay that the Browns have earned that spread with two solid showings so far in 2018. Cleveland nearly took a win from the rival Steelers in Week 1 – settling for a tie game – and battled the Saints to a tight 21-18 loss last Sunday. And if Cleveland had a reliable kicker in those contests, the Browns could easily be 2-0 SU as well as 2-0 ATS.
The biggest reason oddsmakers are leaning toward the Browns in Week 3 is their defense, notably a defensive line that is creating chaos with fantastic pressure using just four rushers. The stop unit recorded four sacks and countless QB hurries versus Pittsburgh then got to Saints QB Drew Brees three times in last week’s loss. This doesn’t bode well for New York, which watched a Miami defense wrap up rookie passer Sam Darnold four times last week.
Getting that production from the front four allows the Browns’ linebackers to drop back in coverage and plug up the middle of the field, taking away any short passing targets and forcing the rookie to beat them long. Darnold has three touchdowns passes but also three interceptions so far this year.
Jump ball Jets
New York’s offense isn’t flashy by any means and doesn’t pose the deep threat that Pittsburgh and New Orleans did. The Jets do have some larger targets to toss to, however. Leading receivers Quincy Enunwa and Terrelle Pryor stand 6-foot-2 and 6-foot-4 respectively and fellow WR Robby Anderson is 6-foot-3. New York also returned Jermain Kearse from injury last week, and while he was only targeted twice, the 6-foot-1 wideout does give this receiving corps a much-needed deep threat.
The Jets need all the help they can get after showing some woes in the red zone. They were just 1 for 4 against Detroit in Week 1 and were shutout in the red zone versus Miami, going 0 for 2. Cleveland’s red-zone defense has allowed its first two opponents to find paydirt on 57 percent of their trips inside the 20-yard line.
This Over/Under for Thursday night is one of the lowest numbers on the Week 3 schedule, opening at 40 points and dropping to 39.5.Neither team is an offensive force – despite the Jets putting up 48 points in the Week 1 opener. Fourteen of those points came from defensive/special teams touchdowns, and the Jets had plenty of extra cracks at the football due to a dismal performance from Detroit. Last week, New York managed only 12 points and looked very one-dimensional with only 42 yards on the ground.
Cleveland runs a very conservative offense, with QB Tyrod Taylor keeping the passing game safe and short. The Browns are picking up just 4.5 yards per play, leaning more on the ground game to control the clock and tempo. Cleveland is calling run on almost 45 percent of its offensive snaps and can take advantage of a weak Jets run defense that was rolled for 135 yards on the ground by the Dolphins in Week 2. Cleveland has gone Under the total in 11 of its last 14 home stands.