Expect a Slow Start Between the Browns and Jets on MNF

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The NFL continues to celebrate its 100th season with a primetime Monday night matchup between the Browns and Jets. The Browns and Jets played the first-ever Monday night game in 1970, with Cleveland winning 31-21. The spread opened at -2.5 in favor of the Browns (0-1), and moved up to -6.5 after a wave of injuries hit New York. The Jets (0-1) are missing starting QB Sam Darnold, as well as defensive contributors C.J. Mosley and Quinnen Williams. The total moved down a half point since opening at 46, currently listed at 45.5. 

The Browns defeated the Jets in Week 3 of 2018 after Baker Mayfield came off the bench to snap Cleveland’s 19-game winless streak. The Jets have gone 5-1 straight up in the last 6 matchups between the teams. Both teams had high expectations entering the season after busy offseasons. The Browns started their season with a 43-13 home loss to the Titans while the Jets fell to the Bills 17-16 at home. 

Cleveland QB Baker Mayfield struggled in his season debut and threw 3 interceptions. The Browns showed a startling lack of composure under first-time head coach Freddie Kitchins, with an atrocious 18 penalties for 182 yards. The offensive line was unable to protect Mayfield and allowed 5 sacks.

The Jets got off to a hot start and forced 4 Bills turnovers in the first half of Week 1. Despite only scoring off one of those turnovers, they held a 16-0 lead in the 4th quarter before an injury to All-Pro linebacker C.J. Mosley. Buffalo scored on their final three possessions to hand the Jets a deflating Week 1 defeat. The Jets couldn’t get out of their own way, allowing 4 sacks and missing an extra point and field goal. Things got worse for New York when they announced that Darnold will miss 2-6 weeks with mono. Darnold will be replaced by former Broncos QB Trevor Siemian, who worked with Jets coach Adam Gase in Denver. 

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Aug 15, 2019; Atlanta, GA, USA; New York Jets quarterback Sam Darnold (14) throws on the sideline against the Atlanta Falcons in the second half at Mercedes-Benz Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

Storylines and Injuries to Watch

This Monday night showdown comes with some drama after star Cleveland receiver Odell Beckham Jr. called out Jets defensive coordinator Gregg Williams for trying to cause injuries. Williams was the Browns interim head coach last season after they fired Hue Jackson. Cleveland defensive tackle Sheldon Richardson will face the Jets after spending the first 4 seasons of his career in New York. 

The Browns enter Week 2 with a mostly healthy roster, giving them an advantage over the banged-up Jets. New York will be without Darnold, Mosley, and Williams, and have a plethora of other injuries. Receiver Demaryius Thomas is questionable with a hamstring injury after being traded to the Jets this week from New England. RB Le’Veon Bell is nursing a shoulder injury, and three Jets offensive linemen are listed as questionable. 

Public bettors have been hammering the Browns since Darnold’s injury. 6.5 points is a big spread for a Browns team that has not been favored on the road since 2017. Siemian is a mediocre backup with a 13-11 record as a starter. The Jets hope they have fixed their kicking issues after signing Sam Ficken this week. 

The Browns are 5-12 ATS in their last 17 games against losing teams, and 2-6 ATS in their last 8 MNF appearances. However, Cleveland is 6-1 ATS in their last 7 games following an ATS loss. The Jets are 2-6 ATS in their last 8 games following a loss. The Browns offensive line will look to bounce back against a Jets team that only managed 1 sack last week. 

Prop Picks

The biggest mismatch for this game is the battle between Beckham and the struggling Jets secondary. The Jets allowed more targets and receptions to receivers last season than any other team. This year’s secondary got off to a rough start, with top corner Trumaine Johnson allowing 7 catches and 110 yards on 9 targets in Week 1. Top Bills receiver John Brown racked up 7 catches for 123 yards and a touchdown against the Jets. 

Beckham is far more intimidating then Brown after scoring 46 touchdowns in his first 60 career games. Beckham played every snap for the Browns in Week 1 and had 12 targets. As the former Giants receiver makes his return to Metlife Stadium, there is value on betting Beckham props. Look to take Odell to score a touchdown (+115) or accumulate OVER 80.5 receiving yards. 

For those looking to bet on a Jets prop, consider betting TE Ryan Griffin to exceed 19.5 yards. Without Chris Herndon active, Griffin will be an important part of the offense as an outlet for Trevor Siemian. 

There is also plenty of value on betting Over 5 combined sacks for the game. Browns DE Myles Garrett has 5 career games with multiple sacks, and 2 of them were against the Jets. Cleveland also has defensive end Olivier Vernon, who has 51.5 career sacks, and Sheldon Richardson. The Browns used 3 different players at left tackle in Week 1 and the Browns and Jets allowed a combined 9 sacks. 

Wolf’s Wagers

Nick Chubb

While Beckham and the Browns will get scoring chances against a banged-up Jets defense, the best bet for this game is Under 45.5. The Browns offensive line will struggle against Gregg Williams’s blitz-heavy defense. After 3 interceptions in Week 1, Cleveland will likely run the clock and attack the Jets with Nick Chubb runs up the middle, where they are missing Mosley and Williams. 

New York will rely on Bell, Griffin, and Jamison Crowder for short receptions in a conservative gameplan. Crowder caught 14 passes in Week 1 but only managed 99 yards. The Jets only averaged 3.4 yards per play in Week 1, worst in the NFL. The Browns are likely to stack the box to contain Bell, leading to a slow defensive game. The total has gone under in 9 of Cleveland’s last 11 night games. 

The Browns have a solid defense led by Garrett and shutdown CB Denzel Ward. Their struggles in Week 1 can be attributed to bad field position and big plays. The Titans completed 3 passes for longer than 45 yards in Week 1, but the Browns should be able to stop Siemien and the Jets from making many explosive plays. The Browns held Tennessee to 2-10 on third down and had 4 sacks. Cleveland was only down 15-13 in the second half before Derrick Henry’s big reception and Mayfield’s mistakes put them out of reach.

Primetime games this season have seen their totals bet up by the public. So far, the under has hit in the first half of all 6 primetime games of the 2019 season. This suggests that there’s value in betting under 21.5 for the first half of Monday night’s game. 

Siemian is an effective game manager, but is unable to move the ball downfield. Siemian has the worst QB rating of any player with over 1000 snaps since 2016. Look for the recent trends between the Browns and Jets to hold, with under hitting in 11 of the last 15 matchups. Rather than taking a side in this unpredictable primetime game, look to bet the total to go under between the Browns and Jets. 

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