In the beginning of the NFL season, if I told you that in Week 17 the New York Jets would be playing the Cleveland Bowns, where one team was 10-5, and the other was 6-9, you probably would have guessed that Aaron Rodgers was doing his thing in the AFC East and trying to the lead the Jets to a divisional championship. As it turns out, Rodgers hasn’t played since snap three of game one. You might have also guessed that Deshaun Watson was a $250M bust…which hasn’t been the case either…yet. Time will tell on that one. “Bust” is such a harsh word. But for tonight, we have third string quarterback, Trevor Siemian, who was signed by the Jets in September of this year, versus…Joe Flacco…for…the Cleveland Browns? Yeah, it’s no joke, and neither is Flacco. Joe was signed by the Browns in November, has led the club to a 3-1 record while under center, and is in the race for Comeback Player of the Year. Not to mention that Cleveland currently holds the #5 seed in the AFC and would need a colossal disaster to NOT make the playoffs. Meanwhile, the second-string quarterback for the Jets, Zach Wilson, is injured and sharing some sideline next to Rodgers, while Siemian is trying to prove that he belongs anywhere near an NFL football field. You just can’t make this stuff up! The Browns are IN and the Jets have nothing to play for…except for maybe pride. Let’s see how Week 17 of NFL Thursday Night Football shakes down!
The New York Jets (6-9)
Do you remember when the Jets worked for weeks (it felt like months) to make a deal with the Packers to get Aaron Rodgers? Then, when they finally landed him, they were all talking about how they were going to win the Super Bowl? Yeah, that was awesome. I currently have the Jets 24th on my Week 17 Power Rankings, and they are projected to get a Top 10 pick in the 2024 draft. Their offense is arguably the worst in the NFL. They rank 28th in rushing yards per game, 30th in points per game, 31st in passing yards per game, and they are dead last in total yards per game (only 263.5!).
QB, Trevor Siemian has completed only 52.3% of his passes for 393 yards in three games with one TD and three interceptions, for a QBR of 10.4. This hasn’t been all Siemian’s fault though; it’s mostly been the fault of QB Zach Wilson, and the coaching staff that believed in him. If only they had a quarterback like…Joe Flacco. Too soon?
I feel like Running Back, Breece Hall is being seriously overused for a guy who tore his ACL fourteen months ago. He’s rushed for 732 yards this season (25th in the NFL), but is only averaging 4.2 yards per carry, which is a far cry from his 5.8 yards per carry last year before the injury. Hall is also second on the Jets in receptions (65), second in the NFL in receiving yards for running backs (RBs) behind Christian McCaffrey, first in receptions for RBs, and third on the Jets for receiving yards (537). Wide Receiver, Garrett Wilson is leading the Jets with 88 receptions (14th in the NFL), and 958 receiving yards (25th) but with only three TDs to show for it. Tight End, Tylker Conklin has 53 receptions, and is second on the Jets in receiving yards with 560.
The Jets’ strong point is their defense, led by Middle Linebacker, C.J. Mosley (who, coincidentally, played with Flacco on the Ravens from 2014 through 2018) with 136 total tackles (8th). Outside Linebacker, Quincy Williams is right behind Mosley in total tackles with 124 and leads the team with 15 tackles for a loss (T15). Edge, Bryce Huff leads the Jets with eight sacks (T30), and Edge, Jermaine Johnson has ten tackles for a loss (T32) with 6.5 sacks. Overall, New York is second in passing yards allowed per game, third in overall yards allowed per game, and 14th in points allowed per game. The Jets’ opponents tend to build up a lead against them though, and rack up 126 rushing yards per game on average, which is ninth worst in the league.
Cleveland Browns (10-5)
I sure wish the Browns organization could figure out what they’re trying to be. Are they a clolor? If so, which color? Brown or orange?! Are they elves? Are they dogs? Are they an elf’s brown dog? I have no idea. What I can tell you is that the Browns are PLAYOFF BOUND, which is exciting in itself. They even have the chance to win the division! It probably won’t happen because they would have to win their next two, which includes Week 18 against the Bengals IN Cincinnati, AND then the Ravens would have to lose their next two against the Dolphins and the Steelers, playing BOTH games IN Baltimore. After the Ravens just tossed the 49ers to the side like getting a pair of socks on Christmas Day…I just don’t see that happening.
Defensively, the Browns are arguably one of the best units in the league. They lead the NFL with only 260 yards allowed per game, AND in passing yards per game at 160. Cleveland is tenth in rushing yards allowed per game with 100 yards, and 12th with 20.7 points allowed per game. Defensive End, Myles Garrett leads the team with 13 sacks (tied for 7th with Micah Parsons) and is tied for fifth in the NFL with 16 tackles for loss. Linebacker, Jeremiah Owuso-Koramoah leads Cleveland with 90 total tackles, and 18 tackles for a loss (3rd in the NFL). Defensive End, Ogbo Okoronkwo has 4.5 sacks and 12 tackles for a loss, but he has been ruled out for tonight’s game with a pectoral injury.
Since a certain QB has shown up in Cleveland, the Browns have gone from a running team to a passing team. Joe Flacco has passed for 254, 311, 374, and 368 yards in each of his four games, which coincidentally ranks first, second, third and fifth in highest passing yard totals in games for Cleveland this season. That being said, the Browns are 10th in points scored per game, 11th in rushing yards, 13th in total yards, and 20th in passing yards per game. Flacco has completed 59.4% of his passes for 1,307 yards, ten TDs, and seven INTs, for a QBR of 45.9 and Passer Rating of 85.1. Fun Flacco Fact: Last year when Joe was playing for the Jets against the Browns, he went 37-59 for 309 yards, 4 TDs, and 0 INTs. Two weeks after that, Flacco was replaced for Zach Wilson, who completed just 50% of his passes for 252 yards, one TD and two INTs. Oh, how things come around.
After the Browns lost Running Back, Nick Chubb for the season, they turned to Jerome Ford, who has amassed 743 rushing yards (24th) for an average of 3.9 yards per carry, four TDs, and 49.5 yards rushing per game.
Wide Receiver, Amari Cooper, who was Flacco’s favorite target last week (11 receptions, 265 yards and two TDs) has 72 receptions on the year for 1,250 yards (6th) with five TDs. Unfortunately, Cooper is listed as Questionable for tonight’s game with a heel injury. I’m sure that WR, and former NY Jet, Elijah Moore, would be more than happy to step into the WR1 role. Moore is currently third on the team with 54 receptions for 579 yards, which is more than either of his first two years with the Jets. Tight End David Njoku will no doubt be the Red Zone target, as he has 75 receptions for 748 yards (6th for TEs) and six receiving TDs.
This one could get ugly, folks! Not only does Cleveland have one of the best defenses, which is tied for the second most takeaways including the third most interceptions, with the 9th most sacks in the league, going up against the worst offense in the NFL, which is also tied for the second most turnovers given, who has absolutely nothing to play for and starting a third string QB… Well, you can see where this is going. The Browns do have some WR concerns with Cooper and Marquise Goodwin both being listed as Questionable, but they have everything to play for, and they have “January Joe”. I know it’s December 28th, but this guy shows up at the end of the season. There are more than enough reasons for the Browns and Flacco to come out and put the hurt down on the Jets. This has become a fun team to watch, and a great storyline! Thank you, NFL Script Writers! Browns 27, Jets 10. Thanks for the “read”, all!!