There’s a lot of buzz in Cleveland ahead of the NFL TNF Week 3 free pick as tonight might be the night the Browns unlock the Bud Light victory fridge. Cleveland is favored heading into this game (CLE -3) against the Jets but it’s still hard to bet the Browns…ever. Instead the total is the play tonight (O/U 41) with the biggest matchup being the Cleveland defense vs. the New York Jets offense behind Sam Darnold. Who gets the edge however?
Darnold Came Back to Reality Last Week
The Jets have split on their O/U through two games and it’s largely due to a tale of two Sam Darnolds. In week 1 the rookie looked like a seasoned veteran, throwing 2TD en route to a 48-17 Jets win. Darnold threw for a ton of yards last week (25/41, 334) but also had two costly INTs as the Jets dropped to 1-1 after falling 12-20 to Miami. Cleveland gets a lot of credit for having a top 10 defense, but through two weeks they are 20th or worse in total, passing, and rushing yards allowed. Can New York exploit the Browns behind the talented WR Quincy Enunwa (13 catches through 2 games) or is Cleveland’s rankings due to the fact they played Pittsburgh and New Orleans, two of the traditionally best offenses in the league.
The New York offense could push the NFL TNF Week 3 free pick towards the ‘over’ but their defense might keep the Browns from putting up too many points. The Jets have shown signs of becoming the top 5 defense that they were in coach Todd Bowles’ first season. New York is in fact top 5 in total yards allowed, 8th in passing and 11th in rushing. They give up only 18.5 ppg (7th in the NFL) led by former 1st round picks Darron Lee and Jamal Adams who are really coming into their own so far in 2018.
Are the Browns Actually Feeling Pressure Tonight?
Cleveland has the benefit of playing at home in the NFL TNF week 3 free pick which is always helpful in the short week. The Browns should be able to turn it up against rookie Sam Darnold who has had just 3 days to prep for tonight’s game, his 3rd NFL start. The Browns defense does have a big loss tonight as LB Christian Kirksey is doubtful with an ankle injury. Cleveland did play without him last week however and limited New Orleans to just 213 yards through the air and 62 on the ground. The Browns defense should thrive against Darnold if Myles Garrett can emulate his week 1 performance in which he had 5 tackles, 2 sacks and 2 forced fumbles.
So if the Browns can do their part to keep tonight a low scoring affair, how will the Cleveland offense perform against the Jets defense? The Browns have actually put together the league’s #4 rushing attack through 2 games. Carlos Hyde has scored in both Cleveland games and Jarvis Landry has caught 12 balls in 2 games. Of course the biggest question mark tonight for Cleveland is their QB. Tyrod Taylor was awful through the air against Pittsburgh, going 15/40 but he buckled down nicely last week to complete 22 of 30 passes. Taylor has rushed for 103 yards this season on just 12 carries but if the Cleveland offense falters could we see the rookie v. rookie matchup of Darnold and Baker Mayfield?
NFL TNF Week 3 Free Pick Betting
Both defenses should be electric tonight if only for the simple fact that the offenses have had only 3 days to implement a game plan. Obviously not every Thursday Night game falls under, but it definitely has a tendency too if the strengths of both teams are their defensive units. Veteran defensive coordinator Gregg Williams should be able to whip Darnold into a frenzy while Cleveland head coach is going to focus on the run game in front of his home crowd. All this leads to a low scoring affair.
NFL TNF Free Pick: New York Jets / Cleveland Browns *under* 41