Florham Park, N.J. - The New York Jets (2-5) were able to grind out their first victory in over a month last week as they look to keep the positive vibes flowing in the new 'City of Champions' - Cleveland - to face the Browns (0-7). Last week, the Jets took the first step in the right direction in rebounding from an unsettling 1-5 record when they took down the Ravens with a dominant defensive performance and highly effective running game. There are plenty of storylines around Florham Park this week including a seemingly endless list of injuries - but - back at starting quarterback: Ryan Fitzpatrick.
The Jets are 10-13 all-time against the Cleveland Browns but are victorious in their last three games. The previous two wins have come in East Rutherford but the last time these teams met in Cleveland, Mark Sanchez connected with Santonio Holmes for the game-winning touchdown in overtime back in 2010.
The Browns are winless on the season, coming off a 31-17 loss to the Cincinnati Bengals. Cleveland has their share of injuries across the depth chart and because rookie quarterback Cody Kessler is dealing with a concussion, the Browns are expected to go with Josh McCown on Sunday. Here is what to watch for this weekend when the Jets look for the second consecutive win:
WHEN: Sunday, October 30, 2016, 1 p.m. EST
WHERE: FirstEnergy Stadium, Cleveland, Ohio
KEYS TO THE GAME:
On Wednesday afternoon, Jets wide receiver Brandon Marshall sported a green t-shirt that read: 'Fitzmagic 2.0.' Marshall voiced his support for his quarterback and told the media he fully expects a rebound from Ryan Fitzpatrick after being benched last week in favor of Geno Smith. New York needs a Fitzmagical performance Sunday against the Browns to restore some hope in the season and in the Jets starting quarterback. In seven games, Fitzpatrick threw 11 interceptions and six touchdowns - not much magic there. He knows he needs to be better and he will get a chance to try against a battered Cleveland defense that is ranked second to last in the league. It may be one of the final opportunities for Fitzpatrick to start and put up numbers like he did in 2015.
MANAGE THE GAME
The Jets must avoid the trap and manage the game well on Sunday in Cleveland. They were able to get their first win in over a month this past week while the Browns continue to search for their first. From the start, New York must set the tone with their run game. By doing so, it will take the pressure off Fitzpatrick to throw the ball around the field which can lead to turnovers. The Browns have the second worst rush defense in the NFL allowing 979 yards on 207 attempts. They have allowed seven rushing touchdowns while giving up 4.7 yards per carry. Last week, Matt Forte led the charge with 100 yards rushing and one touchdown. Expect a heavy dosage of Forte and Bilal Powell to make the game more manageable for Fitzpatrick and the entire Jets offense.
D-ON'T UNDERESTIMATE CLEVELAND
Yes, the Browns are 0-7. But, their offense has tremendous talent that supports Josh McCown. It will be important for the defense to pick up where they left off against the Ravens and apply the same gameplan on Sunday. Some of the names in the Cleveland arsenal: Isaiah Crowell, Duke Johnson, Terrelle Pryor and Gary Barnidge. With a quarterback like McCown under center, the Jets defense must understand that the Browns can stretch the field through the air and on the ground. Although their defense is at the bottom of the league, the Browns offense is top 10 in rushing with 120 yards per game averaging slightly over five yards per carry. The Jets were able to hold Baltimore to 11 rushing yards - they will have a tough task ahead of them against Crowell and Co. on Sunday.
GRAB SOME TURNOVERS
Five quarterbacks have played for the Browns this season. All five have at least one interception. Sunday's expected starter - Josh McCown - has two touchdowns and two interceptions on 33 attempts. The Jets were able to go wild last week with three turnovers - two interceptions off Joe Flacco and one fumble recovery - while Cleveland committed two against Cincinnati. In one of the more complete defensive performances the Jets have had this season, they were able to pressure the quarterback, turnover the football and make the big stop when needed. That should be their plan against the inconsistent McCown, who is 0-2 lifetime against New York with two interceptions. The Jets must have another strong performance on defense Sunday if they want to turn this season around.
X-FACTOR: BRANDON MARSHALL
With all the talk surrounding 'Fitzmagic 2.0' this week, Brandon Marshall has escaped scrutiny as he has been held off the scoresheet for back-to-back games. In his last three games, Marshall has 14 catches for 193 yards and one touchdown. With Joe Haden likely lining opposite of Marshall, it will be a challenge for the Jets number one receiver to break free and help his quarterback put up points. It will be interesting to see if the sore foot hinders Marshall's production at all on Sunday.
PREDICTION: Jets 28 - Browns 13
The Jets are coming off a big victory against the Ravens. On paper, they have the better offense and stronger defense than the Browns. Let's not forget Cleveland is also winless on the season. Look out for Quincy Enunwa and Robby Anderson to find open space in the Cleveland secondary, who will focus plenty of energy on Brandon Marshall. Those points plus the fact that an angry Ryan Fitzpatrick will be starting for the New York Jets on Sunday will equal a big victory on the road and push the record to 3-5. No controversy in Florham Park this week.
Joe Barone is a staff writer for JetsInsider.com/NYJScout.com. He can be reached on Twitter (@28JoeBarone), or via email (firstname.lastname@example.org)