Week 17 brings us our final Thursday Night Football matchup of the 2023 season, as the New York Jets travel to Cleveland to take on the Browns. It’s been a tumultuous ride for the Browns at the Quarterback position in 2024 and despite this they’ve amassed a 10-5 record and are technically still in contention for the division title.
They would need to win out and the Ravens would have to drop their final two matchups against Miami and Pittsburgh. In that case the Browns would win the tiebreak due to their conference record.
Live Odds for New York Jets at Cleveland Browns
After starting the season with Deshaun Watson and cycling through veteran P.J. Walker and rookie Dorian Thompson-Robinson, the Browns finally have something in Joe Flacco. Despite being unsigned in the offseason, Flacco has looked even better than the twilight years of his Baltimore career and certainly better than any of his New York Jets snaps in the previous two seasons. Flacco has showcased that he still has a big arm and is willing to gamble on throws down the field, which has allowed Kevin Stefanski to open up the playcall in ways that he couldn’t even with Watson, who was nursing a shoulder injury.
Even more impressive is that Flacco and the Browns offense has been humming along despite the injury bug at multiple positions aside from QB. RB Nick Chubb went down with a gruesome knee injury in Week 2 and the Browns are playing without their top 3 tackles. The Browns also signed K Riley Patterson this week after Dustin Hopkins went down in Week 16.
Despite the offensive struggle, we all know about the vaunted Browns defense at this point in the season, continuing their run as the #1 spot in defensive DVOA. On top of this, the Browns boast some incredible home/road splits, with perhaps the home crowd playing a factor in their matchups at the Browns Stadium.
Looking at the other side of this matchup, the Jets will once again roll with Trevor Siemian at QB as Zach Wilson has yet to clear concussion protocol. Siemian was serviceable in the Jets 30-28 victory over the worst defense in the NFL, the Washington Commanders. It was the Breece Hall show on Sunday as the running back ran for 95 yards and two touchdowns, while adding 12 catches and another 96 yards through the air.
Outside of Hall and Garrett Wilson the Jets offense lacks playmakers and the Browns can focus the game plan on taking the ball out of those player’s hands. Siemian will also face a different animal in Myles Garrett and the Browns pass rush as Washington failed to exert much pressure in the pocket and failed to record a sack. I’m not expecting another 30-point output from the Jets and the books agree setting the total in this one at 36.
This might have been a spot where I would’ve looked towards the under, but the Joe Flacco led Browns are passing the ball at such a high rate that I worry they’ll be too aggressive to run the clock out like other iterations of this Browns unit might have done. We’ve been questioning when we might start to see some cracks in this Jets defense that unfortunately isn’t playing for much at this point in the season.
We might’ve finally seen a lack of effort in Week 16 as the Jets actually lost a 27-7 lead to replacement QB Jacoby Brissett, before the Jets ultimately won on a field goal with five seconds left in regulation. Robert Saleh has done a great job keeping the unit engaged up to this point in the season, but as they’re simply not playing for anything, I’ll avoid a play on the total here.
It’s a simple handicap on the side, a veteran led team fighting for playoff seeding against an inexperienced offense playing for nothing. The books are spotting the Browns 7 points at home with both teams on equal rest. Some 7.5’s are starting to pop up in the market and I think that’s about where it’ll settle up.
This is a great opening leg for teasers this weekend, as I’m not running to lay this big of a number as it’s hard to project the level we’ll get out of the Jets defense. I’m teasing this with the Jaguars -7.5 (another team in a must-win scenario) for 2%.
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