The Browns enter a new season with many questions about their offense. Let's review the betting lines & how odds have shift since opener to find a value pick in this week 1 game against NY Jets.
How Has The Betting Line Moved?
Open: New York -1.5
Current: New York -3
The New York Jets opened a new era under head coach Todd Bowles with some substantial optimism based on a strong NFL Draft and free agency haul but it didn’t take long for those good vibes to turn upside down. Sheldon Richardson’s future with the team is in doubt following a shocking off-field incident, Geno Smith had his jaw broken by then-teammate IK Enemkpali and there are legitimate concerns about whether this team is ready to contend for a playoff spot. Fortunately for the Jets, their Week 1 opponent is dealing with even more uncertainty than they are as the Cleveland Browns enter a new season with many of the same questions about their offense including mainly whether or not new quarterback Josh McCown can help them get over the hump and contend for a playoff spot in the AFC North.
We’ve seen some money on the Jets early on. It looks like some people thought this could be an even matchup at first but then realized that the Jets are at home and are the sounder of the two teams. It’s hard to trust the Browns on the road anywhere with a questionable backfield and dicey passing game.
3 Key Storylines
Jets Quarterback Situation: At first glance it’s hard to imagine the quarterback situation getting any worse for New York than it was last season with Smith under center but then again they are now turning to a journeyman in Ryan Fitzpatrick who wasn’t much better for the Houston Texans last season. Fitzpatrick couldn’t hold down the starting job despite having some considerable talent around him in Houston and there are obvious concerns about whether he can hold down the job with Smith out. For as bad as last season was for the former second-round pick the reality is that Smith is entering only his third NFL season and he did show improvement from Year One to Year Two with the Jets. New York will likely try to establish the run early and use Fitzpatrick as more of a game manager but still it will be interesting to see how the veteran performs with Smith sidelined.
McCown Expected To Start: The Browns added wide receivers Dwayne Bowe and Brian Hartline in the offseason but they lost tight end Jordan Cameron and their best quarterback option in Brian Hoyer. Cleveland signed Josh McCown to start until Johnny Manziel is ready and while the odds favor Manziel starting a handful of games this season it looks as though McCown will start in Week 1 barring injury. That is bad news for a Browns franchise that appeared headed in the right direction at the midway point of last season only to collapse in the second half of the year. McCown flamed out with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers last year when he had Vincent Jackson and Mike Evans as his top two receivers and now Cleveland will expect him to produce with Bowe and Hartline lined up on the outsides.
New Look Jets Defense: One of the biggest points of optimism for the Jets was a defense that was bolstered in the offseason including a complete overhaul of the secondary with the additions of cornerbacks Darrelle Revis, Antonio Cromartie and Buster Skrine as well as safety Marcus Gilchrist. Revis was an absolute stud for the Super Bowl champion New England Patriots last year and will reunite with Cromartie as major upgrades along with the nickel corner Skrine and safety Gilchrist. Meanwhile, their only real loss came up front where Richardson will likely be suspended but they did add arguably the most talented player in the NFL Draft in sixth-overall pick Leonard Williams. The rookie Williams will line up opposite Muhammad Wilkerson on a potentially dominant defensive line and this new look Jets defense really will have a chance to be among the best in the NFL this season.
Bet Early Or Bet Later… And What’s The Play?
Injuries are a reality of the preseason buts it’s hard to imagine the Jets luck getting any worse given what the franchise has dealt with this offseason and if nothing changes they could very well move from -3 favorites to -3.5 at some point. The reality is that even after a rocky training camp period New York is still a much better team on paper and home advantage should mean something as they look to get off to a strong start in their first year under Bowles. The Browns have too many question marks on offense including at quarterback in particular to trust them against this revamped Jets defense so take the home side minus the field goal now.
NFL Pick: New York -3 at BetOnline