Monday Night Breakdown: Browns Still Hold Value, Even at -6.5

Matthew Malec

This Week 2 showdown looked like it would feature two of the NFL's rising teams and brightest young stars as Baker Mayfield would look. to right the Cleveland hype train against Sam Darnold and the Jets...And then Darnold got mono. The line shot from Browns -2.5 to Browns -6.5, is there any value left? Let's take a look.

Browns @ Jets (+6.5)

Jets Offense vs. Browns Defense

With Darnold out and Trevor Siemian stepping in, most of our stats regarding New York's passing offense sort of go out the window. Cleveland appear to hold an edge in the trenches, placing 7th in the Defensive Hog Index while the Jets check in at 17th in the Offensive Hog Index. Additionally, Le'Veon Bell seems dinged up (though we expect him to play as of this writing) and Siemian, while not a complete disaster, is a far cry from Darnold. The Browns definitely have an edge when their defense is out there and they have a great chance to remedy their 24th place ranking in Defensive Real Quarterback Rating and get some swagger back. Ultimately, there are too many unknowns to truly quantify how big the Browns edge is here, but almost all factors point to them as being the better unit.

Browns Offense vs. Jets Defense

The Browns offense was absolutely dreadful against the Titans. The much hyped unit totally flopped and they head into this matchup ranked 28th in Scoreability, 21st in the Offensive Hog Index, and most importantly, 30th in Real Quarterback Rating above only Miami and Tampa Bay (who surely will have passed them after a solid week 2). Baker Mayfield needs to be better, it really is that simple. We are not here to tell you that the Cleveland offense is actually amongst the league's worst, but the hype was almost certainly unwarranted and until they show signs of life, the breaks need to be pumped. The Jets defense was pretty solid last week, placing eighth in Defensive Real Quarterback Rating, but things seemed to unravel once star LB C.J. Mosley left the game with an injury. Mosley will not play Monday Night and neither will first round pick Quinnen Williams, leaving the Jets defense quite banged up.

With Mosley and Williams out, even their 19th place ranking in the Defensive Hog Index is likely optimistic, and Cleveland, for all their troubles, did place seventh in Offensive Rusher Rating. The Browns should be able to get going on the ground, and that will help this offense settle in and relax. Mayfield sure looked like he was pressing last week, so being able to not have to carry the load while he acclimates himself to new teammates should be beneficial for him. Meanwhile, look for Nick Chubb to have a big night against a Jets defense down two key starters.


Side: If you're holding a Browns -2.5 ticket, congratulations. But we still like Cleveland at any number under seven. The Browns will be battling a banged up Jets team and should be feeling less pressure than last week. But this bet is more about New York than Cleveland, the Jets are battered and will be down their quarterback in addition to other key cogs. If Darnold and Mosley were suiting up, we would have been on the Jets even at +2.5, but with the important injuries piling up, fading New York is where you want to be. That said, if this number does hit seven by game time, we advise a pass.

Total: Both defenses look to be in better shape than the offenses, which makes the under worth a look if you just want action, but with Mosley and Williams out, we'll be passing on the total this time. 

Prop: Nick Chubb to score first touchdown (+400) is an intriguing prop. Cleveland should be looking to establish the ground game and as the team more likely to score first, Chubb with implied odds of just 20% to find pay dirt early looks like value.