Breaking
May 29, 2024

Browns and Jets Set for Pivotal AFC Matchup

AiBot
Written by AiBot

AiBot scans breaking news and distills multiple news articles into a concise, easy-to-understand summary which reads just like a news story, saving users time while keeping them well-informed.

Dec 28, 2023

The Cleveland Browns and New York Jets are set to face off on Thursday Night Football in a pivotal late-season AFC matchup. Both teams find themselves still in playoff contention heading into Week 17, with the Browns potentially able to clinch a spot with a win. This primetime showdown is overflowing with storylines, from Joe Flacco facing his former team to the Browns’ surging defense looking to contain the Jets’ talented trio of cornerbacks.

Playoff Implications Front and Center

The Browns enter the contest at 7-8 but remarkably still have a 36% chance to make the postseason. If Cleveland wins out in Weeks 17-18 they are guaranteed a Wild Card berth. However, with remaining games against the 12-3 Bengals it won’t come easy even if they get past the Jets. This home matchup with New York is essentially a must-win, making it the Browns’ biggest game since their 2018 season.

For the Jets, playoff hopes are slim at best sitting two games back in the Wild Card race at 7-8. But they have an opportunity to play ultimate spoiler against a divisional rival. Despite the disparity in postseason probability, New York has not packed it in and will be fired up in front of the national TV audience. Jets’ coach Robert Saleh insists his team feels zero pressure and should play loose, looking to close the year on a high note.

Team Record Playoff Chances
Cleveland Browns 7-8 36%
New York Jets 7-8 <5%

So while one franchise seeks a coveted playoff appearance for just the second time in 20 years, the other can revel in crushing those dreams. The motivation for both sides runs deep Thursday night under the bright lights.

Flacco Faces Former Squad

The backdrop of this AFC battle features veteran quarterback Joe Flacco returning to face the franchise he called home for 5 seasons. Flacco joined Cleveland mid-year after Deshaun Watson’s lengthy suspension and Jimmy Garoppolo getting injured after being acquired in a trade. His insertion into the starting lineup has powered the Browns back into contention with a 5-2 record since Week 10.

Flacco says there is no extra motivation in going against New York specifically, claiming he just wants to reach the postseason no matter the opponent. However there are those around the league who feel the Jets did Flacco dirty by not reaching out following the Aaron Rodgers injury earlier this season. Saleh confirmed New York has no regrets over that decision and are happy with their current QB duo of Mike White and Zach Wilson. Still, after Cleveland gave him new life Flacco would certainly enjoy denying the franchise that once cut him from playoffs.

The 37-year old has been on fire during the Browns’ second half resurgence, averaging 270 passing yards per game with 10 total touchdowns compared to just 3 picks. He will need to keep dealing on the short week to vanquish his former teammates.

Browns Defense Dominating

Cleveland will aim to make Flacco’s job easier by unleashing their merciless defensive front upon the Jets’ injury-riddled offensive line. The Browns lead the NFL with 17 sacks over the past 3 weeks, spearheaded by elite edge rushers Myles Garrett and Jadeveon Clowney. Garrett currently sits second in the league with 15 sacks and has 5 multi-sack outings in 2022 while Clowney has compiled 7.5 QB takedowns of his own.

They will be salivating at the chance to tee off against third-string tackles Cedric Ogbuehi and George Fant. New York has utilized 6 different starting offensive line combinations this season largely due to injuries, so communication issues have hindered their pass protection all year. Garrett and Clowney could post video game numbers given this delicious matchup, making it a long night for White or Wilson in the pocket.

Sack leaders Myles Garrett and Jadeveon Clowney have terrorized opposing quarterbacks during the Browns’ second-half run. The Jets’ banged up O-line figures to have its hands full keeping the elite pass rushing duo off their signal callers.

Player Sacks Multi-Sack Games
Myles Garrett 15 5
Jadeveon Clowney 7.5 2

If Cleveland’s defense performs up to its recent standards while the offense avoids turnovers, New York will struggle to keep pace on the scoreboard. The Browns have conceded the 5th-fewest points in the NFL since Week 10 at just 16.9 per game. Gang Green must have some offensive trickery prepared to ambush this stingy unit.

Jets’ Cornerback Trio vs Browns WRs

The Jets’ best chance to pull the road upset centers around their deep cornerback group shutting down Cleveland’s passing game. Free agent addition D.J Reed Jr. earned a Pro Bowl nod in his first year with New York, allowing just a 66.2 QB Rating when targeted. 5th overall pick Sauce Gardner has been a home run, leading all rookies with 16 passes defended en route to the PFWA Defensive Rookie of the Year honor. Veteran slot CB Michael Carter II rounds out the position, ranking 2nd at his role in passer rating against.

This trio of talented cover men must contain Amari Cooper, Donovan Peoples-Jones, and Harrison Bryant/David Njoku over the middle. Cooper is 74 yards shy of his first 1000-yard campaign since 2019 while Peoples-Jones is having a breakout 818-yard season. Tight ends Bryant and Njoku have combined for nearly 900 yards and 7 TDs. Flacco loves targeting his tight ends and receivers 10-20 yards downfield, an area the Jets’ cornerbacks specialize in defending.

Something has to give in this battle of strengths that could well determine the game. If Reed Jr, Gardner and Carter II can force Flacco into more check-downs and disrupt the offense’s timing, New York will be in position to spring the upset. But if Cooper, Peoples-Jones and Cleveland’s tight ends consistently win their matchups, Flacco should light up the scoreboard.

Prediction

This Thursday night main event has the looks of a close game coming down to the wire. The veteran Flacco faces his former franchise with a chance to notch Cleveland’s first playoff appearance sans LeBron James in decades. But the Jets field a feisty defense of their own seeking to spoil those postseason dreams.

In the end, the Browns’ sack-happy pass rush proves too fierce for New York’s vulnerable offensive line. Garrett and Clowney combine for at least 4 sacks, making life uncomfortable all night for White/Wilson in the pocket. That sets the table for Flacco to expose the Jets’ zone coverage with pinpoint deep balls to Cooper and Peoples-Jones. The home crowd erupts as Cleveland holds on late to clinch a playoff berth with a thrilling 31-27 victory.

AiBot

AiBot

Author

AiBot scans breaking news and distills multiple news articles into a concise, easy-to-understand summary which reads just like a news story, saving users time while keeping them well-informed.

To err is human, but AI does it too. Whilst factual data is used in the production of these articles, the content is written entirely by AI. Double check any facts you intend to rely on with another source.

By AiBot

AiBot scans breaking news and distills multiple news articles into a concise, easy-to-understand summary which reads just like a news story, saving users time while keeping them well-informed.

Related Post