Has there ever been a team that sucked quite as well as these Cleveland Browns? They really have a gift fo it.
After a topsy-turvy tie against the loaded Steelers in Week 1, on Sunday last the long-suffering Ohioans headed to Louisiana for meeting with one of the most popular preseason Super Bowl picks, the New Orleans Saints, and ass-kicked them on their own astroturf.
And still lost.
A series of missed kicks kept the Saints alive, and they took care of Hue Jackson’s unrelenting losers at the death.
The Browns winless streak now stretches to 19 games. Plenty of coaches barely get 19 games, let alone losses, before being canned, but Jackson presumably has a J. Edgar Hoover-like file on Cleveland owner Jimmy Haslam, so keeps getting to come back and coach the team despite his 1-31-1 record.
There are signs of hope though. The fact the Browns have been competitive against two bona fide Super Bowl challengers is hugely encouraging.
If they weren’t just so… Brownsy they’d be 2-0 right now.
Their defence has looked legitimately impressive in those games, and should be able to pressure rookie Jets QB Sam Darnold after hassling two hall of famers in recent weeks.
The Jets have some interesting pieces at receiver, though whether anyone emerges to lead them is still a question. Quincy Enunwa and Robby Anderson are the likely playmakers, with Isaiah Crowell, a former Brown, likely to lead the rushing attack.
The question for Cleveland is whether they have the nerve to take advantage of opportunities their defence will create.
There are several factors in their favour here.
They’re at home in a shortened week, and they’ve cleared out their kicker and signed a replacement who should be able to make it when it matters.
The Jets were flattered by a clueless Lions performance in Week 1, and splashed back into reality with a 20-12 loss to the Dolphins last Sunday.
They’re nothing special.
If the Browns play as tough as they have, they should win. But this is the Browns we are talking about, and the end of Josh Gordon’s frequently interrupted stay this week isn’t helpful…
Logically, the Browns on paper are good enough to cover the -3 handicap in this spot. How anyone could have confidence in a team with their current record doing that, I do not know, so I can’t recommend taking them minus the points here.
Winning Margin: Cleveland Browns 1 to 6 – 10/3
Though confidence is lacking on the handicap, the Browns should still snap their latest run of defeats in this favourable situation. They’ll probably do their best to screw it up, so we’ll take the cover of a small margin in a game closer than it should be at 10/3. The Browns 1 to 10 at 15/8 in the Winning Margin (10-point bands) market is an option if you want more wriggle room.
Total Points: Under 39.5 – 20/21
This is a low number, but these are two teams who do not look like putting up big numbers this season. The trends are pointing to the under as well, with the home team’s games not topping the points line in 11 of their last 14 appearances in Cleveland. The total has also finished under in three of the Jets’ last four games.
Anytime Touchdown Scorer: Antonio Callaway – 13/5
There are a few appealing plays in this market – Carlos Hyde is 6/4 after scoring in his last two games, and Isaiah Crowell is also intriguing – but the rookie Callaway looks like better value at 13/5 given the opportunity presented by Josh Gordon departure, question marks about Jarvis Landry, and Marcus Maye’s likely absence for the Jets. He’s also a tasty 12/1 to get in the end zone first.
*All odds correct at time of posting