Tyrod Taylor Cleveland Browns
Tyrod Taylor #5 of the Cleveland Browns celebrates after a touchdown during the fourth quarter against the New Orleans Saints at Mercedes-Benz Superdome on September 16, 2018 in New Orleans, Louisiana. Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images

The Cleveland Browns are getting closer and closer to winning their first game in 21 months. The team avoided a loss in the season opener when they tied the Pittsburgh Steelers at home, and they nearly forced overtime in a Week 2 road game against the New Orleans Saints. After the league’s worst franchise almost got into the win column over the first two weeks of the 2018 NFL season, there is a belief that the Browns’ time will finally come in Week 3.

Cleveland is a three-point favorite over the New York Jets on ‘“Thursday Night Football,” according to the latest betting odds at OddsShark. It’s the first time the Browns are favored at home since they defeated the San Francisco 49ers 24-10 on Dec. 13, 2015. Little did Cleveland know that they would win once over their next 37 games.

It isn’t just that Cleveland has a tie and a close loss. The team would be a perfect 2-0 if they made a few easy kicks. Zane Gonzalez had his 43-yard field goal blocked with nine seconds left in overtime against Pittsburgh. The kicker missed both an extra point and a 44-yard field goal in the final 90 seconds of Sunday’s contest before being released the next day.

An improved Cleveland defense has kept the Browns in two games against teams that are coming off 11-plus win seasons. The unit has held the Steelers and Saints to 42 total points, allowing just 24 total points in their first 115 minutes of play. Ben Roethlisberger and Drew Brees posted an 86.4 passer rating against Cleveland. The future Hall of Famers combined to throw for 891 yards, six touchdowns and no interceptions in their other two games this season.

Sam Darnold gets his shot at the Browns Thursday. It’s the second road start of the rookie’s young career and his first on short rest. After a strong debut, the 21-year-old quarterback came back down to earth with two interceptions and a 74.6 passer rating in New York’s Week 2 home loss to the Miami Dolphins.

New York’s offense probably won’t have a big night at FirstEnergy Stadium. Neither will Cleveland's, which has scored 39 points on the year. The game’s over/under of 39 is the second-lowest on the Week 3 schedule.

The Browns have allowed 5.3 yards per play in 2018. The Jets have been even better, surrendering 4.8 yards per play and ranking fifth in the NFL. New York held the Detroit Lions to 17 points in their Week 1 victory. The Dolphins beat the Jets 20-12 Sunday, though Miami didn’t score in the second half and only had to go a combined 64 yards in two of their touchdown drives because of New York turnovers.

The Jets didn’t face Roethlisberger and Brees, but Ryan Tannehill and Matthew Stafford led their teams to 27 points apiece when they didn’t have to go up against New York's defense. Both of those quarterbacks are better than Tyrod Taylor, who might not be Cleveland’s starter for much longer because of how unproductive he’s been.

Taylor has completed 52.9 percent of his passes for 443 yards, two touchdowns, two interceptions and a 70.1 passer rating in a couple of games as a Brown. Sure, half of those numbers came in difficult conditions in Cleveland, but he also led the Browns to just 19 points in New Orleans a week after Ryan Fitzpatrick and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers dropped 48 points on the Saints’ defense. If it wasn’t for his 47-yard touchdown pass on 4th down with 76 seconds remaining against New Orleans, Taylor might have the worst passing numbers of any AFC quarterback.

In eight quarters and one overtime period, the Browns have put together five touchdown drives against two teams that surrendered a combined 90 points when they didn’t face Cleveland. One of those drives began on Pittsburgh’s one-yard line, and another came as the result of a fourth-down heave.

Carlos Hyde and Duke Johnson Jr. are both averaging fewer than 3.0 yards per carry. The Jets have allowed 3.8 yards per rush in two games. Taylor is going to have to make plays if Cleveland hopes to get their first win, and he’ll have to do it without the recently traded Josh Gordon.

Darnold might not put up big numbers, but he’s proven he won’t be shaken by playing in a tough environment on the road. Even if the Browns manage to pull out a victory, they’ll have to do it by more than three points to cover the spread.

Until the Browns actually win a game, betting on Hue Jackson and Cleveland as three-point favorites is probably not the smartest idea.

The Browns found a way to blow their games in both Week 1 and Week 2. Don’t be surprised if they do it again in Week 3.

Prediction: New York over Cleveland, 20-16