The Cleveland Browns travel to New York to face the Jets on Monday Night Football, celebrating the 50th NFL season with MNF. On September 21, 1970, Cleveland defeated New York 31-21, kicking off a long history of entertaining television.
This week, both teams enter the game having dropped their first contests in disappointing fashion, with the Browns getting destroyed by the Tennessee Titans, and the Jets falling apart against the Buffalo Bills. This is a very important game, and the result could revitalize one team while the other spirals into disaster. Here are five bold predictions for the Cleveland-New York clash.
5. Trevor Siemian plays well
Starter Sam Darnold is going to be sidelined for a while due to an illness, so former Denver Bronco Trevor Siemian will get the nod. He’s 13-11 in his career, with 30 touchdowns and 24 interceptions. He has some solid skill position players around him, and if the Cleveland secondary plays anywhere close to how it did in Week 1, Siemian should be able to move the ball effectively.
He won’t be able to beat Baker Mayfield in a shootout, but if he can avoid mistakes and keep the game close, the Jets will have a chance to win.
4. Nick Chubb runs for two touchdowns
Against New York last season, Carlos Hyde ran the ball 23 times for 98 yards and two scores. Chubb should be able to best those numbers, especially if C.J. Mosley and Quinnen Williams are out. Chubb received 17 carries against Tennessee, but the Browns were unable to establish the run early, and Chubb’s workload became inconsistent. That should change this week; the Browns will likely feed him early and often.
3. Le’Veon Bell is held to under 100 yards rushing
Bell’s shoulder MRI fortunately revealed no damage, so he should be good to go on Monday. But if he had to get an MRI in the first place, he’s clearly feeling some discomfort. Bell managed 60 yards on 17 carries against Buffalo’s strong defense, and it will be tough sledding against Cleveland as well.
The Browns were able to hold Derrick Henry in check for most of the game, and that was with a ridiculous amount of penalties extending drives. The defense should be less tired if it can stay disciplined, and that’s bad news for Bell.
2. The game is close for at least three quarters
The final score of 43-13 looks ugly, but Cleveland was able to pull within two points late in the third quarter against the Titans before the wheels came off in the fourth. The Browns’ offense is still trying to find its rhythm, even with the immense amount of talent it fields.
New York’s defense is good enough (and defensive coordinator Gregg Williams is crafty enough) to throw Mayfield and company off their games, at least to the point where Cleveland won’t run away with the game. Things could change later on, but this should be a competitive matchup for the most part.
1. Odell Beckham Jr. dominates
OBJ had a decent Browns debut with seven catches for 71 yards, but all the headlines surrounding him had to do with the expensive designer watch he wore.
Beckham should be motivated to let his play do the talking, and fuel is being added to the fire every time Williams speaks about the receiver. The two have a bad history; during Beckham’s rookie season in 2014, the St. Louis Rams (for which Williams was the defensive coordinator) started a fight with him in order to intimidate him for the remainder of the game.
In the 2017 preseason, Cleveland’s Briean Boddy-Calhoun dove at Beckham’s legs, injuring his ankle. Beckham missed Week 1 but played in the next four games, before undergoing surgery for a fractured ankle.
This week, Beckham revealed that multiple current Browns players told him that Williams had encouraged the defense to injure him. Williams also refused to admit that Beckham is one of the most dynamic players in the league.
To make things even more interesting, New York’s cornerbacks are flat-out bad. OBJ has the perfect opportunity to show the NFL world he’s back, on national television no less.