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NFL Preview - Cleveland (4-10) at N.Y. Jets (6-8)
By Lyle Fitzsimmons, Contributing NFL Editor
(SportsNetwork.com) - Think the New York Jets will be the only frustrated team playing out the string at MetLife Stadium this Sunday afternoon?
The Cleveland Browns, losers of 10 games for six consecutive seasons, will play the penultimate game of their 11th consecutive non-playoff year with a Week 16 trip to northern New Jersey to play the equally playoff-disqualified Jets.
The Browns began 2013 at 3-1 and were a still optimistic 4-5 heading into the Week 10 bye, but five consecutive losses since that early November respite have yielded the same old thing.
Not helping matters has been the excruciating nature of the most recent losses, with the last three coming by a combined 12 points after Cleveland held a fourth-quarter lead each week.
In Week 15, it was a 38-31 verdict to Chicago after establishing a 24-17 lead entering the final 15 minutes.
"It's very disappointing, very disappointing," cornerback Joe Haden said. "Especially when you have a team that you know that can win. It's frustrating, but you always try to stay positive, you always try to look ahead and we still got two more games left."
Haden is questionable this week with a hip pointer and tight end Jordan Cameron, he of the team-best 75 receptions and career-highs in both yardage (848) and touchdowns (seven), is also questionable with a concussion.
"As bad as we want him to be out there with us playing on the field," quarterback Jason Campbell said, "I care more for his health and his safety."
The security of the head coaching job of Rex Ryan has become the issue in New York.
The Jets were mathematically eliminated from playoff conversation with a 30-20 loss at Carolina last week, marking the third consecutive season they've failed to get to the postseason after reaching the AFC Championship Game in each of Ryan's first two years on the job.
His contract expires at the end of 2013, which saw New York at 5-4 heading into its bye in Week 10, only to have the good feelings unravel with four losses in five subsequent games.
It's a tough spot for the affable coach, whom many expected to be leading a dreadful team all season long. Instead, the early positives raised hopes for a big second half, which leaves a sour taste in the mouths of fans who'd been expecting to have little or no taste by this point.
"I'm a competent guy, even though I know that will be questioned a zillion times forward and backward, whatever, that's fine," he said. "But I know I'm a good football coach.
"I believe in this team. I believe in this organization and I'm determined to bring a winner to this team, there's no question about it.I know and I believe that I'm the right guy for it. Now again, I'm not the guy making that decision."
Left to that choice will be owner Woody Johnson and general manager John Idzik. The latter is wrapping up his inaugural year on the job. Neither have discussed Ryan's situation in public.
The Jets wrap up the 2013 schedule next week at Miami.
Quarterback Geno Smith could be in something of an audition mode himself.
The rookie from West Virginia was calm, cool and collected while rallying the team for a handful of first-half victories, but he skidded to a 30.6 passer rating with eight interceptions and no touchdowns over a five-game stretch between late October and early December - in which the Jets were 1-4.
In his last two games, he's thrown for 386 yards and two TDs with two interceptions and run for 94 yards. The Browns have been nicked for 658 passing yards in their last two games and have allowed 33 points per game during the five-game losing streak.
New York has reached 30 points three times in 15 games.
"We're going out there and playing for Rex because he's our head coach and we want to play hard for him and we want to win games for him," Smith said. "He coaches us hard, he puts the time and effort in and he deserves for our team to go out and that's what we do every single week. I love Rex.
"And despite what decision is made, my feelings toward him will never change."
WHAT TO WATCH FOR
What You Talkin' About, Willis?
When healthy, the Miami-reared and Buffalo-drafted Willis McGahee was a Jets killer early in the career with the Bills, exceeding 100 yards against New York five times - once in 2004, and twice apiece in 2005 and 2006.
He scored three times in those five games and also caught nine passes. He's questionable this week, but will be valuable if able to suit up.
Rush to Judgement
An area of possible dominance for the Jets is along the line of scrimmage, particularly in passing situations. Defensive end Muhammad WIlkerson has 10 sacks, linebacker Calvin Pace is at nine and fellow linebacker Quinton Coples is aiming for a fourth straight game with at least one. Cleveland is tied for 18th in the league with 38 sacks allowed.
What the reeling Jets - and particularly Ryan - really needed was an opponent for this week who was in even worse shape than they are.
They might have found it with the Browns, who are both unlucky and injury plagued as the reach the second-to-last week. Expect Gang Green to send out Ryan with a determined home effort, though the bet here is that it's a new coach next year.
Sports Network predicted outcome: Jets 21, Browns 13
12/19 13:26:42 ET