Browns must be prepared with pesky New York Jets coming to town

Browns, Nick Chubb
Browns, Nick Chubb /

For the first time since 2004, the Cleveland Browns won their season opener. Cleveland narrowly defeated their former quarterback Baker Mayfield and the Carolina Panthers 26-24 courtesy of a last-second 58-yard field goal from rookie kicker Cade York (out of LSU).

With the pesky New York Jets coming to town for the home opener in Week 2, which the author of this article predicted spot on, Cleveland has a huge opportunity to begin the season 2-0 for the first time since 1993 and send the Dawg Pound into pandemonium.

Green and White will collide with Orange and Brown for the eighth time in the past 11 seasons. This is due to a combination of NFL schedule rotations and the two teams finishing in the same place in the standings of the AFC East and AFC North respectively.

It will also be the second time in three years (2019-2022) that the Jets and Browns will play each other in Week 2. Cleveland won the first Week 2 showdown on Monday Night Football in East Rutheford,  NJ, 23-3 in 2019. Given the frequency of their encounters, one could make a solid argument that the two teams should be in the same division.

Years the Browns and Jets played each other

2013: Week 16 at New York, Jets 24-13
2015: Week 1 at New York, Jets 31-10
2016: Week 8 at Cleveland, Jets 31-28
2017: Week 5 at Cleveland, Jets 17-14
2018: Week 3 at Cleveland on Thursday Night Football, Browns 21-17
2019: Week 2 at New York on Monday Night Football, Browns 23-3
2020: Week 16 at New York, Jets 23-15
2022: Yes (Week 2 at Cleveland)

The last encounter between the Jets and Browns at FirstEnergy Stadium was Week 3 of the 2018 season on Thursday Night Football. Cleveland was seeking their first win since December 24, 2016, against the then-San Diego Chargers (they’re now in Los Angeles).

Quarterback Baker Mayfield made his Browns debut, due to Tyrod Taylor suffering an injury, after being selected No.1 overall in the 2018 NFL Draft out of Oklahoma. Cleveland defeated the Jets 21-17. Seeing Mayfield make his debut combined with the Browns getting their first win in nearly 700 days made Browns fans celebrate like they just won Super Bowl 53.

Although Cleveland has the “Big 3”- NFL, NBA, and MLB, it’s a football town first and foremost. When Cleveland has a home game, it’s like the city has two paintbrushes in hand and it paints itself in Browns colors. Though there will be some Jets fans in attendance for Sunday’s game, they’ll be swallowed up by the sea of brown and orange.

These two teams come into Sunday’s game with very different mindsets and perspectives. New York’s home opener was ruined thanks to Lamar Jackson and the Baltimore Ravens to the tune of 24-9. Cleveland escaped Charlotte with a 26-24 win in a game where they faced their former starting quarterback.

Given that Cleveland will be riding a wave of excitement into Sunday’s home opener, New York could be walking into the lion’s den (though not the one in Detroit, MI). This could potentially backfire on the Browns though.

With the Week 1 winless streak snapped, the Browns are poised to carry the momentum into FirstEnergy Stadium against the Jets. There’s a reason the saying “any given Sunday” exists though.

Cleveland could very well get swept up in all the hype and pandemonium resulting in them playing sloppy and mistake-filled football. If that does indeed come to fruition, the Jets could put themselves in a position to take advantage and spoil Cleveland’s party. New York’s quarterback has plenty of experience going against the Browns throughout his career, so he won’t be intimidated.

Joe Flacco was drafted 18th overall in the 2008 NFL Draft by Baltimore. He played with the Ravens through 2018. Since the Ravens and Browns are both inhabitants of the AFC North and Baltimore is Cleveland’s biggest divisional rival, Flacco got very familiar with Cleveland. Though he’ll be seeing a very different team than what he’s seen in the past. Flacco won’t be the only backup quarterback on the field on Sunday.

Sunday’s game will be a battle of backup quarterbacks. Until Deshaun Watson returns from his 11-game suspension, Jacoby Brissett is the Browns starting quarterback. Zach Wilson suffered a torn meniscus and a bone bruise in a preseason game against the Philadelphia Eagles. As a result, Flacco has stepped into the role of the starting QB.

The Browns will be looking to start the season 2-0 for the first time since 1993 after edging out Carolina. Meanwhile, the Jets will be looking to get the bad taste of Week 1’s 24-9 loss against Baltimore out of their mouths.

According to the Browns website: “The Browns lead the all-time regular season series, 14-13. The Jets won the last game, 23-16, in Week 16 of 2020 at MetLife Stadium.”

Recent games between the Jets and Browns have been nip and tuck except for Cleveland’s 23-3 victory on Monday Night Football. This Sunday’s game also figures to be a nip and tuck defensive one-possession type of game, which means it could go either way.