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Sizing up the New York Jets, the Browns' Week 8 foe


One by one, is breaking down each of the Browns' 2016 regular season opponents as the dog days of the offseason unfold.*

Today's preview pits the Browns against an AFC East team looking to make a playoff run.

Who: New York Jets

When: Week 8 (Oct. 30, FirstEnergy Stadium)

Series History (last meeting): 12-10 (Jets 31, Browns 10 in 2015 at MetLife Stadium)

The coach: Todd Bowles — 2nd season

The stakes: These teams meet for the fourth time since 2010, including last year's season opener in which the Jets ultimately overpowered the Browns at MetLife Stadium. Cleveland, which has dropped three straight to New York, looks to get back into the win column against a team many will consider a legitimate playoff contender. It'll also be the Browns' first home game following a stretch in which they'll play five of their first seven games on the road.

Matchup to watch: Corey Coleman vs. Darrelle Revis — In this case Coleman, the Browns' first-round draft pick, is indeed the team's No. 1 receiver, he'll likely have to go through Revis, who has long established himself as one of the league's best cornerbacks. And Coleman, who looked sharp in Cleveland's offseason workouts, will have a chance to test himself against elite competition.

Offseason storyline: In their first season under Todd Bowles, the Jets posted a 10-6 record (their best since 2010) and nearly clinched their first postseason bid in that span.  But as training camp nears, it's hard to ignore the fact starting QB Ryan Fitzpatrick (who passed for 3,905 yards and 35 touchdowns last season) remains a free agent and how it's unclear when or if he'll ink another contract with the Jets.

Biggest addition: RB Matt Forte — After eight seasons, 8,602 rushing yards, 4,116 receiving yards and 64 total touchdowns, the Bears chose not to re-sign Forte, who had become something of a staple in Chicago with his hard-nosed running style and consistent production. Fortunately for him, the Jets quickly scooped up the veteran back in place of Chris Ivory, who parted ways with the team in free agency.  

Biggest loss: LT D'Brickashaw Ferguson — The three-time Pro Bowl selection retired after 10 seasons in New York and 160-straight starts. Needless to say, it's not going to be easy for the Jets to simply replace one of the league's best offensive linemen.

The star: Brandon Marshall — In his first season with the Jets, the veteran wide receiver caught 109 passes for 1,502 yards, his best statistical season since 2012. He also notched a career-high 14 touchdown catches. Marshall, of course, will be looked to duplicate such success next season

The X-Factor: Fitzpatrick — This could very well change as the situation between Fitzpatrick and the Jets remains a fluid one, but he could be the difference between New York being a legitimate playoff contender and one dealing with uncertainty at the quarterback position. Geno Smith, who missed last season after suffering a broken jaw prior to the season, has been inconsistent in his time as a starter and Bryce Petty and rookie Christian Hackenberg are young and still finding their way in the league. Fitzpatrick, meanwhile, put together one of the best outings by a New York QB in some time.

What makes this game tough: If Fitzpatrick indeed re-signs with the Jets, expect New York's offense to take another step in the right direction with a cast that includes Marshall, Forte, WR Eric Decker and longtime center Nick Mangold. The defense (ranked ninth in 2015) which features stars like Darrelle Revis and DL Muhammad Wilkerson should be stout despite departures of CB Antonio Cromartie and LB Demario Davis (who, of course, joined the Browns as a free agent this spring). What makes them beatable: It's hard to dive into this topic without bringing Fitzpatrick into the frame. So much of the Jets' success last season was a function of his steady play. Without him, it's unclear how Smith, Petty or Hackenberg would fare (especially on an offensive line looking to replace Ferguson). And instability there could have a ripple effect throughout the offense.

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