Five Keys to Victory – Cleveland Browns at New York Jets
Alas, the NFL regular season is finally here! At this point in time, there is optimism for all thirty-two clubs – as each is undefeated. However, since their return to the league in 1999 the Browns have one just a single opening game. I believe the team can double that total this Sunday, and doing five simple tasks will assist this.
#1 – Be Smart on Offense
This contest is not expected to be a high scoring affair (with the lowest over/under total for all NFL contests) therefore turnovers are critical. Josh McCown and company must opt for a punt over a potential interception or fumble lost. Sure, losing field position is never a good thing – but putting your defense in a poor spot is even worse.
#2 – Keep it Going on Special Teams
The Browns looked very well in their special teams units this exhibition season. That must continue, should they expect to win the field position battle. Additionally, field goals and even a possible punt return could be scoring breaks that can propel the guests to an opening day victory.
#3 – Fitzpatrick is a Journeyman for a Reason
The defense cannot make an average NFL signal caller look like a perennial All-Pro. Obviously Fitzpatrick is good enough to start in this league, but the Browns’ secondary is very talented and can create confusion to lure the opposition into making mistakes during drop backs. Doing so will help out the Browns immensely.
#4 – Win on Third Down
Both teams will likely feature a ball-controlled offense that is expected to primarily rush the football. Therefore, dominating on third down is of extreme importance for the Browns. Moving the chains allows the offense to stay on the field, eat up clock, and put them in a better opportunity to gain points. Stopping the Jets on third down keeps the defense rested, will improve field position, and reduces the Jets’ chances at points.
#5 – Start from Ahead
Again, this will not be a game where a team will come back from two or three touchdowns (as the offenses are not seen as high scoring). Thus, staying in front will put ample pressure on the Jets’ offense to produce points quickly. Doing so could lead to forcing plays that simply are not there, with the Browns’ defense being the beneficiaries of Jets’ mistakes.
Conclusion: It will be a slugfest and a slower paced contest, but I expect the Browns to come out ahead when it’s all said and done. I like their overall defense and would rather have Josh McCown than Ryan Fitzpatrick as quarterback. Special Teams could be the difference, and once again the visiting team appears to have an edge in that department.