Joe Flacco, Browns Meet Jets With Chance To Clinch Second Playoff Berth Since ’02

NEW YORK JETS (6-9) at CLEVELAND (10-5)

Thursday, 8:15 p.m. EST, Amazon Prime

OPENING LINE: Browns by 7, according to FanDuel Sportsbook.

AGAINST THE SPREAD: Jets 5-9-1; Browns 10-5.

SERIES RECORD: Browns lead 15-14.

LAST MEETING: Jets beat Browns 31-30 on Sept. 18, 2022, in Cleveland.

LAST WEEK: Jets beat Commanders 30-28; Browns beat Texans 36-22.

JETS OFFENSE: OVERALL (32), RUSH (28), PASS (31), SCORING (30).

JETS DEFENSE: OVERALL (3), RUSH (24), PASS (2), SCORING (14).

BROWNS OFFENSE: OVERALL (13), RUSH (11), PASS (20), SCORING (10).

BROWNS DEFENSE: OVERALL (1), RUSH (10), PASS (1), SCORING (12).

TURNOVER DIFFERENTIAL: Jets minus-8; Browns minus-7.

JETS PLAYER TO WATCH: RB Breece Hall. He bounced back from a rough nine-game stretch last week by becoming the first player in the Super Bowl era with 190 or more yards from scrimmage, 12 receptions and two TD runs in a single game. Widely acknowledged as the engine of the Jets’ offense, Hall finished with 95 yards and two touchdowns and caught 12 passes for 96 yards against Washington.

BROWNS PLAYER TO WATCH: DE Myles Garrett. Without a sack in five straight games, Garrett has the national TV stage to make his case for AP Defensive Player of the Year. His coaches and teammates have been promoting his cause, and now it’s Garrett’s chance to deliver a big performance. He has nine sacks in five games against the Jets.

KEY MATCHUP: Jets CB Sauce Gardner vs. Browns WR Amari Cooper. One of the NFL’s best cover corners will likely be assigned to Cooper, who dominated the Texans for 265 yards and two touchdowns on 11 catches last week. Jets CB D.J. Reed will also get a chance on Cooper, considered an elite route runner and physical target.

KEY INJURIES: Jets QB Zach Wilson remains sidelined by a concussion, so Trevor Siemian will start his second straight game. … TE Jeremy Ruckert (concussion) is out. … K Greg Zuerlein, who kicked the winning 54-yard FG against Washington, had tightness in his right quadriceps and his availability for the game at Cleveland was uncertain. … The Browns will be without K Dustin Hopkins (hamstring), who has been clutch and among the league’s most accurate kickers all season. Hopkins is 8 of 8 beyond 50 yards. … Browns P Corey Bojorquez is also nursing a hamstring injury. He’s Cleveland’s holder. … This week, rookie QB Dorian Thompson-Robinson (hip) became the 12th Browns player to go on injured reserve. Thompson-Robinson started three games.

SERIES NOTES: The Jets have won seven of the past nine matchups. … New York staged one of the biggest comebacks in team history last season, scoring two touchdowns in the final 1:22 to stun the Browns 31-30 behind QB Joe Flacco, who has saved Cleveland’s season. … The Browns ended a 19-game losing streak with a win over the Jets in 2020 — also on a Thursday night.

STATS AND STUFF: The Jets are trying to avoid a fourth straight double-digit loss season. New York has lost 10 or more in six of the past seven seasons. … With the win against Washington, Siemian snapped a six-game skid for games in which he started. It was his first victory as a starter since Denver beat Indianapolis 25-13 in Week 15 of the 2017 season. … The Jets scored 17 points in the first quarter against Washington, their most in the opening 15 minutes of a game since Week 10 of the 2014 season. … Hall was the first Jets player to have 70 or more yards rushing, 70 or more yards receiving and multiple TDs from scrimmage in one game against Washington. His 9.0 yards per catch lead all running backs in that category since the start of last season. … Jets WR Garrett Wilson has 88 catches, making him the third player in franchise history to have consecutive seasons with 80 or more. He’s the ninth player in NFL history to have 80 or more in each of his first two seasons. … The Jets have used an NFL-high 12 starting offensive line combinations, including a different starting five in each of their past 11 games. … New York is the league’s most-penalized team with 111, including 14 last week. … LB Quincy Williams has a league-high 10 passes defensed. He’s also the only player with 100 or more tackles, 10 or more tackles for loss, 10 or more QB pressures and 10 or more passes defensed. … The Jets have not allowed 300 yards passing in 33 consecutive games, the NFL’s longest active streak. … With a win or tie, the Browns will clinch just their second playoff berth since 2002. … Flacco has passed for 1,307 yards and 10 TDs — both league highs — in four starts with Cleveland, which signed him on Nov. 20. … Flacco downplayed his chance to face the Jets, who chose not to re-sign him during the offseason or after Aaron Rodgers got hurt in the opener. … WR Amari Cooper dominated the Texans for 265 yards receiving last week. Cooper also became the first player in team history with consecutive 1,000-yard seasons. … Injuries have been an issue for the Browns all season and this week they’re without Hopkins, who injured the hamstring in his plant leg while chasing returner Dameon Pierce in Houston. … The Browns signed K Riley Patterson, recently released by Detroit. … Cleveland’s defense is allowing just 260.3 net yards per game, the fewest since the Jets (252.3) in 2009. … The Browns are 7-1 at home. … Browns coach Kevin Stefanski is 0-6 against the AFC East. … The Browns were held to just 54 yards rushing on 30 carries last week.

FANTASY TIP: With the Jets likely focused on stopping or at least slowing down Cooper, Flacco may have to switch things up and make Browns WR Elijah Moore his primary target. Moore knows New York’s secondary well after spending two seasons with the Jets. He only caught two passes for 19 yards a week ago.

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AP NFL: https://apnews.com/hub/NFL

(This story has not been edited by News18 staff and is published from a syndicated news agency feed – Associated Press)

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