The Cleveland Browns visit MetLife stadium to take on the New York Jets. It will be a beautiful day as the sun will shine at 70 degrees Fahrenheit with brief spurts of wind. Expect a low-scoring affair with two stout defenses clashing against two unproven offenses.
Don’t expect numerous big plays from Josh McCown, although he loves throwing the deep ball. The Jets host one of the best cornerback tandems in the league with Darrelle Revis and Antonio Cromartie. Most of the Browns’ yardage will come from the across the middle or the dink and dunk stuff. Look for a slot receiver to impact the game dramatically, whether it is Andrew Hawkins or Taylor Gabriel. Heck, watch for the running back to see increased action in the passing game as well.
Additionally, Cleveland will try to get the rushing attack going early and often. Second-year back, Isaiah Crowell, emerged this preseason as the opening day starter and looks to improve on his rookie campaign. Despite late struggles, Crowell recorded 607 yards and eight touchdowns. The more important number is 4.1. That is the average yards per carry, a number that should prove to be beneficial.
Furthermore, Duke Johnson should see more snaps after Cleveland traded Terrance West. Despite suffering a concussion, the rookie has passed protocol and is listed as probable. This young stud adds another dimension to the offense. At Miami University, he averaged 6.8 yards per carry while catching an additional 38 passes for 421 yards. Johnson’s versatility makes him a viable option for McCown to check down to. Although Crowell will probably lead the backfield in carries, Johnson could produce bigger numbers.
Nevertheless, this will be a defensive game and Cleveland will have its work cut out for them. The matchup to watch is Joe Haden versus Brandon Marshall. Marshall is a tall, physical receiver who plays big in big moments. He is aggressive when he attacks the ball and possesses great hands. As one of the best corners in the league, Haden’s plate will be full, but should prevail without taking much damage. Haden may not be the fastest or tallest, but he executes terrific technique allowing him to be physical with taller receivers.
Another area to watch is Cleveland’s run defense. Last year they finished among the league’s worst, allowing 141.6 yards per game. The Jets possess a tough running back in Chris Ivory. Expect New York to consistently feed Ivory and force the Browns to stop the rush attack.
Ultimately, this matchup has two main focal points, defense and the ground game. One, if not both aspects will determine who come out victorious.
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