The Jets take on the Cleveland Browns on Sunday, and the game is definitely not the NFL's version of "The War of the Worlds" (originally broadcast 78 years ago Sunday night).
It's more a struggle for survival between two road-weary opponents. The Jets want to continue the good feeling of their win over the Ravens at home last Sunday and climb to within two games of .500. The Browns want to stop the bleeding of their winless season and join in some of the fun gripping "Believeland" these days with the Cavaliers receiving their NBA championship rings and the Indians. trying to win their first World Series since 1948.
"Tough team," Jets head coach Todd Bowles said. "They've been in every game. They've lost some in the fourth quarter at the end, so we expect a tough game."
Letdown for the Jets playing an 0-7 team after scoring a big win over Baltimore?
"No, we worry about our own record," Bowles said. "Ours isn't too glowing right now."
Here are seven more points regarding Jets-Browns at newly renamed FirstEnergy Stadium:
1. Jets Up in the RivalryThe Jets lost their first six games against the Browns, including in the historic first Monday Night Football broadcast from Cleveland in 1970. Since, the Green & White have won 10 of the last 17, the last three in a row, and the last game in then-Cleveland Browns Stadium by 26-20 in overtime in 2010. Now the venue is called FirstEnergy and the Browns have lost their only two games there this year and five on the road. Similarly, the Jets are playing their fifth road game this season and have lost their last three away from MetLife.
2. Dangers of 0-7The Browns are last in the league in game point margin (minus-81) and point margin in any half (minus-58 second half) and 31st in yardage margin/game (minus-77.0 yards). But low rankings and 0-7 don't automatically translate to 0-8. Since 1970, 11 of the 46 NFL teams that opened with seven losses won Game 8 (23.9%), including the 1999 Browns. And students of Jets history know that while their team has beaten eight winless teams with seven-plus losses in their history, they have also lost to two of those teams: the 0-14 Saints by 21-20 in 1980 and the 0-9 Colts by 28-27 in 1991.
3. Who's the QB?Who in the world is Cleveland's QB? Six players have taken snaps under center, either by design or out of necessity — Robert Griffin, Josh McCown, rookie Cody Kessler, Terrelle Pryor, Charlie Whitehurst, and last week rookie Kevin Hogan. Kessler started the last five games but he's in the concussion protocol. McCown is back from a Week 2 collarbone injury and was reported to have "zip on the ball" and "pep in his step." If McCown gets the nod Sunday, he may also have payback on his mind. He was the starter in last year's opener and was KO'd by Calvin Pryor's goal line hit at the end of a long opening drive.
4. Fitz-Back-TrickThe Jets phase of Ryan Fitzpatrick's career began with that same 2015 opener. He went on to lead that 31-10 win over the Browns and reached many team and personal milestones the rest of the season. This year hasn't gotten off to a similar start, and he lost the job and then regained it this week. Angry? OC Chan Gailey said, "I feel like every year he's played with that, to be honest with you." Renewed focus combined with Cleveland's 'D" — 31st overall, 31st vs. the run, 29th vs. the pass, 30th in points allowed — could be just what Fitz and the "O" need.
Throwing It Back to Some of the Great Moments Against the Browns
5. Next ILB UpDemario Davis is in the middle of that Cleveland defense. He came to the Browns after his first four NFL seasons with the Jets. You couldn't blame Bowles and DC Kacy Rodgers for gazing longingly across the way, after their recent travails at ILB. David Harris has returned from injury but first-round rookie Darron Lee (ankle) will sit out another game, Erin Henderson is on NFI, and Bruce Carter left last week's game early with a quad injury. Julian Stanford came in and played well next to "the Hitman" and Carter could be available Sunday. As Bowles said about his health on the inside, "It's only a concern if one more guy gets hurt."
6. Big-Time Rush DefenseThe rush defense rebounded from Arizona with a vengeance. They set a franchise record in allowing the Ravens only 11 rushing yards, the opponents had no rushes longer than 5 yards for only the third game in franchise annals, and the Jets are back at No. 2 in the league in rush yards allowed per game and per carry. Sheldon Richardson and Leonard Williams were each in on three tackles at or behind the line, and Muhammad Wilkerson (ankle) could return. This week's task: Hem in Isaiah Crowell, who's averaging 5.2 yards per carry, and spy out Hogan, who rushed seven times for 104 yards last week before and after replacing Kessler at QB.
7. Tapping into TakeawaysDarrelle Revis is feeling and playing better. Buster Skrine rebounded from Arizona. Said Marcus Williams after his big late PD vs. Baltimore: "I told Coach just keep believing in me, keep the pressure on. I'm going to go out and make a play." With four PDs and two INTs, the Jets played their best half of pass defense this season in the second half vs. the Ravens, and they had as many picks in a 3-minute span as they had in their previous 397 minutes this season. "Guys getting their hands on the ball, we disrupted the quarterback a little bit," said Rodgers. "It was kind of the way we wanted to play."