Baker Mayfield and the Cleveland Browns invade New Jersey Monday night, seeking to move on from an awful start to the National Football League (NFL) season by beating a banged-up New York Jets squad.
The Browns entered the season as a team some picked to be a contender. Not just for the AFC North, but for the AFC title as well, thanks to the addition of Odell Beckham Jr. to give Mayfield a deep threat in the passing attack.
However, Mayfield threw three interceptions, one of which was returned for a touchdown, in a brutal 43-13 home loss to the Tennessee Titans on Sept. 8. The loss put a dent in some of those hopes, at least from an oddsmakers’ point of view.
For example, FanDuel’s sportsbook listed the Browns at +1800 before last week’s loss. Currently, the book lists the Browns at +2500. Before the season started, Cleveland ranked fifth among all NFL teams in both total handle and number of bets in FanDuel’s Super Bowl futures betting, according to Kevin Hennessy, the book’s director of publicity.
The second-year quarterback said he and his team are pumped to get a primetime audience for their chance at redemption.
It wouldn’t matter the stage, but yeah, that does make it a little more exciting for our guys, knowing that we got a lot of people counting us out,” Mayfield told reporters on Thursday. “We’re going to take it one game at a time, and (winning) on Monday night, there’s no better way to do it.”
Even though the schedule only reads Week Two, Monday also seems like a must-win for the Browns. Baltimore is already 2-0 and would have a two-game lead on all three of their AFC North competitors with a Browns loss.
While the Browns are looking to get healthy from a won-loss perspective, the Jets would just like to get healthy, period.
When the NFL set up the schedule months ago, Monday’s contest looked to be a preview of two promising quarterbacks. However, last week, the Jets announced Sam Darnold would miss Monday’s game and be out indefinitely because of a bout of mononucleosis.
With Darnold literally in isolation, backup Trevor Siemian will get the snaps Monday. He last took snaps two years ago when he played for the Denver Broncos. In 10 starts, he threw for 2,285 yards with 12 touchdowns and 14 picks.
He’s not the only one that will be missing. Quinnen Williams, whom the Jets picked third in this year’s draft, will miss Monday because of an ankle injury. Linebacker C.J. Mosley, who came to New York from the Ravens in the off-season, will also miss Monday with a groin injury.
There is one bright spot for the Jets. Le’Veon Bell, the running back they signed in the off-season, had been listed as questionable with a shoulder injury. However, team reports indicated he practiced some Friday, and team officials expect he’ll play against the Browns. Without Darnold, New York needs its running back to step up. Bell enjoyed three 1,000-yard seasons with the Pittsburgh Steelers..
The game is also a homecoming of sorts for Beckham. While he did not play for the Jets, he spent five seasons with the New York Giants, who share MetLife Stadium with the Jets.
Before the Jets announced Darnold’s illness, oddsmakers penciled in the Browns as just a 2.5-point favorite. However, after the illness revelation, the spread jumped to 6.5 points, which is where it currently stands.
The over-under has remained steady at 45.5.
The game will air on ESPN, with kickoff set for 8:15 p.m. ET.