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New York Jets vs. Cleveland Browns Point Spread - Pick

New York Jets (1-1 SU, 1-1 ATS) vs. Cleveland Browns (0-1-1 SU, 2-0 ATS)
Week 3 NFL
Date/Time: Thursday Night Football, September 20, 2018 at 8:20PM EDT
Where: FirstEnergy Stadium, Cleveland, Ohio
TV: NFL

By Loot, NFL Football Handicapper, Lootmeister.com

Point Spread: NYJ +3/CLE -3
Over/Under Total: 39.5

The New York Jets take on the Cleveland Browns on Thursday Night Football. It might not be the most-marquee matchup, but it's an interesting battle between two teams looking to start rising up. The Browns are still hunting for that elusive win and after another overtime battle last Sunday, they are still looking. The Jets, meanwhile, were unbelievable in week one when they crushed Detroit on the road. But we saw more of a customary Jets showing on Sunday, when they fell to the Dolphins at home, 20-12.

Sam Darnold has given the Jets some hope on offense. They have a defense that really gets after it, but a no-name offense suddenly has some hope. He had another big-yardage game on Sunday, but wasn't able to transfer the production into points. Red-zone issues, a few picks, and costly penalties kept them in check. Offensively, they are going to be a work-in-progress. Some weeks will be better than others. And even when they put up 47 points in week one, three TDs came via defensive scores.

Moving forward for the Jets, offense could be an issue. Darnold is mighty young. His wheels and arm gives the offense a new dimension, but they are still handcuffed by a lack of standout personnel. Bilal Powell and Isaiah Crowell are decent backs, but how much of a difference they will really make seems dicey. Aerially, they have useful weapons like Quincy Enunwa, Robby Anderson, and even Terrelle Pryor, but it's just a pretty humdrum group and Darnold won't be able to do it all by himself.

For the Jets on defense, there is some real promise. The last few seasons were more of a transition stage, but a conscientious youth-movement over the last couple years has started to manifest. We see a lot of menace on this side of the ball, as they've allowed a reasonable amount of points while flashing an intimidating vibe. They really get after it. There are holes. It's not the most-complete group, but we're seeing all phases getting better.

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Cleveland looks to have really improved with two covers to open the season. They got the tie against the Steelers by clawing their way back into the game. But kicking woes really dragged them down against the Saints on Sunday. They had the game all but won. Even after the Saints came back to take the lead in a big late comeback, Browns' QB Tyrod Taylor connected with a long TD pass with rookie receiver Antonio Callaway, only to miss the extra point that would have sealed it. They will be looking for a new kicker this week.

Thing is the Browns are coming off the short week, following a pair of the most-draining games you would ever hope to see. The Steelers tie went the full-distance, before the Saints game also dragged into OT. And it wasn't just the length of those games. It's still a young season. But the emotional toll in those two games was incalculable. That's as rough a two-game patch as you want to see. If looking for the silver lining, being that they haven't won a game yet this season, you can rightfully say that it is in fact a sign of improvement when a team that hasn't been able to win in forever takes two conference contenders to overtime in games they probably should have won.

The Cleveland offense, especially with Tyrod Taylor, is only going to be so exciting. He's a good QB even if he isn't that thrilling. He can move with the ball and is clutch in his own little way. Carlos Hyde gives them a little juice in the backfield. Gordon is gone, but they have some nice aerial pieces in place, like Jarvis Landry, TE David Njoku, rookie Antonio Callaway, and Rashard Higgins. A strong line remains in place. The defense for the Browns may not have been very good late last week, but a lot of high draft picks in recent seasons have their "D" stocked with massive prospects and we're starting to see good things form on this side of the ball. Issues remain, but when this "D" finds their stride, opposing offenses better watch out.

On one hand, the Browns haven't won, but fully extended a pair of supposedly-top contenders in the Steelers and Saints. So why would they start to melt down against the Jets at home? The mighty Jets are going to unleash something on the Browns that the Saints and Steelers were unable to do? Or is there a chance the last two weeks got the Browns down? If so, can the Jets take advantage?

The Jets are not a good team, but the Browns can't buy a win. Sure, it feels they're right on the verge and this season's results bear that out. Does that mean I want to lay points on a team like that. Absolutely not. I see the storyline a Cleveland backer would be pushing. They've been close and at home against the Jets seems like a good time for them to get that win. Be that as it may, I'm not laying points on a team that never wins.

Loot's Prediction to Cover the Point Spread: I'm betting on the New York Jets plus 3 points. Tired of your credit card not working for sportsbook deposit? End that problem today by signing up at Bovada Sportsbook where your credit card WILL work and where you'll receive a generous 50% sign-up bonus!

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