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How Sam Darnold's illness has impacted the betting lines for MNF: Browns @ Jets

Anytime a starting quarterback is ruled out in the NFL it’s safe to assume the betting lines to move sharply. That has certainly occurred when it comes to the Browns at Jets game this weekend. The news that Sam Darnold will miss the game due to mononucleosis has strengthened Cleveland’s position(s) significantly.

For example, the Browns opened as 2.5-point favorites but the news about Darnold has already pushed the margin to -6.5. That is certainly good news for Baker Mayfield and company. Cleveland desperately needs a win to erase the ugly memory of their Week 1 loss to the Titans from their collective memories.

The fact that New York will now be forced to turn to Trevor Siemian also has oddsmakers concerned about the Jets’ chances of moving the ball against the Browns’ talented defense. The over/under for the game has already dropped from 46.5 to 44. Don’t be surprised if this total continues to tumble as we get closer to kickoff.

None of this movement is particularly surprising. The Jets didn’t exactly light up the scoreboard last weekend against the Bills even with Darnold pulling the strings. Siemian isn’t an unknown at quarterback though. We’ve seen what he can do during his tenure with the Broncos. He is a reasonable backup, but he is not going to suddenly turn this offense from ordinary to explosive over night.

The hidden value here lies in the other injuries the Jets are facing heading into the match-up. Big money free agency signing C.J. Mosley has already been ruled out with a groin injury he suffered against Buffalo. One of the team’s best wide receivers has also been lost for the year. Quincy Enunwa isn’t a big play threat, but he’s a steady wideout who helps keep the chains moving for his team. Losing him for the season could have a big time impact on the Jets ability to convert on third down.

 Even first round draft pick Quinnen Williams is facing some uncertainty heading into the game. An ankle injury limited him to just 23 snaps in the opener. Jets officials are optimistic he’ll be ready to go when Monday night rolls around, but at the very least, it’s a situation worth monitoring.

Add it all up, and there’s a clear path for you as a potential bettor here. Go with the Browns to beat the spread quickly. As long as you can get the line under a touchdown you should feel comfortable making a sizeable wager on Cleveland to bounce back.

Darnold’s absence will keep the Jets offense in the mud. The defensive injury to Mosley is going to unlock Cleveland’s ability to run the football. Nick Chubb was an afterthought for the Browns against the Titans, but he will be a featured part of the game plan on Monday night. Don’t be surprised if he has a big game against New York’s banged up defense. He’s a great daily fantasy play this week.

What you shouldn’t do is rush to make a bet on the over/under. The final score is really difficult to predict in a game like this. The Browns could easily grind out an ugly, but decisive victory with their power running game. Conversely, it’s possible that Siemian could turn the ball over three times and gift the Browns 21 points. Doing so would obviously make the over a very attractive wager.

The Browns were a good bet to win this football game before the Jets were beset by several key injuries. The loss of arguably New York’s best offensive and defensive player for this crucial game gives Freddie Kitchen’s team a golden opportunity to even their record on the season. We like Cleveland’s chances to win this game pretty comfortably. Taking them -6.5 is a no brainer. If you want to go for a bigger payoff, feel free to tease the line all the way up to -9.5. This one should be a much-needed blowout for the Browns.

By Rucker Haringey


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