The 2-2 Jets travel to Cleveland to take on the winless Browns in a game that could see Gang Green get over .500 for the first time this season. It’s a very winnable game for Todd Bowles and company, and here are a few match ups to keep an eye on.
Who: NY Jets (2-2) at Cleveland Browns (0-4)
When: Sunday at 1 pm
Where: FirstEnergy Stadium
Point Spread: EVN
ILB Darron Lee vs. RB Duke Johnson:
The Browns rank 28th in the NFL in points per game at 15.8 with struggling rookie quarterback Deshone Kizer under center. Over his past three games, Kizer has completed just 47% of his passes with 33% of those going to running back Duke Johnson on short routes just beyond the line of scrimmage. If Kizer struggles to complete passes down the field once again, the Browns may be forced to continue having him dump the ball off over the middle where Lee will likely be matched up with Johnson.
DL Muhammad Wilkerson vs. LG Joe Bitonio
Bitonio is a highly thought of interior lineman but looked vulnerable last week against the Cincinnati Bengals. Muhammad Wilkerson is playing with a bum shoulder and an alarming lack of effort. If he decides to show up and play, he could make some noise. If Wilkerson’s effort is lacking once again, Bitonio may have himself an easy time opening up running lanes on his side for Duke Johnson and Isaiah Crowell.
WR Robby Anderson vs CB Jason McCourty
McCourty is playing at a high level for the struggling Browns and is currently the sixth ranked cornerback in the NFL per pro football focus. McCourty was used almost exclusively on wide receiver AJ Green last week in a game that saw Green have moderate production (4 rec/63 yds/TD) with his lone score coming against rookie safety Jabrill Peppers. McCourty will be an excellent test for Anderson whom Josh McCown will likely look toward when looking to make a big play down the field.
Jets Pass Rush vs. DeShone Kizer
Kizer currently owns the worst quarterback rating in the NFL at 50.9. On film there are several glaring weaknesses, but one that jumps out is how long he holds on the ball when his protection holds up, and his hesitancy to pull the trigger even when he has an open receiver. He has taken some unnecessary sacks in the early going (11 total) and his 8 interceptions lead the league. At least three of those interceptions were the fault of his receivers who failed to hold on, but Kizer has also seen several passes go in and out of the hands of opposing defensive backs. If the Jets pass rush can get to Kizer and rattle him early, they should be able to force multiple turnovers.
LT Kelvin Beachum vs. DE Myles Garrett
Garrett is ready to finally make his professional debut, and there’s no reason to expect the no. 1 pick in the draft to be anything but fired up. Beachum has been below average at left tackle thus far, and if Garrett’s explosiveness translates at the pro level, he could have a big day in his pro debut.
TE Austin Seferian-Jenkins vs S Jabrill Peppers
Seferian-Jenkins hasn’t been targeted as much as Jets fans might like, but when McCown has come his way, he’s come up big. The big tight end has come down with some jump balls that required full extension in traffic. One of the league’s best resurrection stories could be in for a big day if he gets matched up with a struggling Peppers who is currently ranked 80th among NFL safeties by PFF.
Jets 20 Browns 10
Stranger things have happened, but in watching the Browns offense operate over the first four weeks, it’s difficult to imagine them finding a way to put points on the board. Their lone touchdown last week came late in the game when backup quarterback Kevin Hogan was inserted for Kizer and marched Cleveland down the field for a score.