EAST RUTHERFORD- The Browns need their defense to step up in order to win the team’s first season opener since 2005. Rookie Danny Shelton is the biggest key to a Browns victory as he will be tasked with containing Jets running back Chris Ivory.
Shelton has another trick up his sleeve. He is capable of keeping three offensive lineman busy. With Shelton’s size and speed, the Jets offensive line will be overwhelmed just containing him. Paul Kruger and Karlos Dansby will have many chances to tackle Ivory in the backfield and sack quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick.
The Jets are the three-point favorite but the Browns defense has too much of an advantage. Fitzpatrick has to overcome a stout defensive line and a secondary that led the NFL in turnovers. Throwing against corner back Joe Haden, corner back Tramon Williams and strong safety Donte Whitner is a tall order at best as all three are pro-bowl defensive players. The loss of Geno Smith who suffered a broken jaw due to a fight with a former teammate will hurt the jets
Will the Browns offense come to life? There is constant debate as to whether or not quarterback Josh McCown is an upgrade over former Browns starter Brian Hoyer. Will running back Isaiah Crowell be as dominant as he was last season or will fans see a performance as dismal as the pre-season?
What plays will Offensive Coordinator John DeFelipo run? Will he stretch the playbook to challenge the stifling Jets defense?
Will the absence of wide receiver Dwayne Bowe hurt the Browns offensive scheme? Will Brian Hartline return to form or are his best days behind him. Will DeFelipo design plays to challenge Jets corner back and former Brown Buster Skrine? There are many questions about the Browns offense.
Cleveland’s ability to score touchdowns seems questionable at best. However, the defense will keep the Browns alive throughout the game.
Final score prediction: Browns win 14-7.
Predicted top performers:
Cleveland: Brian Hartline: 9 catches, 87 yards, 1 touchdown
New York Jets: Brandon Marshall: 10 catches, 109 yards, 1 touchdown