While last week’s contest against the Chicago Bears wasn’t the cakewalk that was expected by some Giants fans, Big Blue did pull out another quality win, their 5th victory in a row. The Giants are 7-3 and have one more “easy” game on their schedule before the stretch run heats up.
The Giants will travel to Cleveland to take on the 0-11 Browns on Sunday. There really is no sugarcoating it; the 2016 Browns are perhaps the worst NFL team of the past decade. It is a game that the Giants must have if they want to be taken seriously by other NFL teams.
The game will kick off at 1:00 and can be seen on FOX.
New York Giants: Offense
The redesigned Giants offense took another step forward last Sunday against the Bears. Despite a slow start, the Giants got their act together and played some smashmouth football. Rashad Jennings led the way rushing the ball, and Eli Manning picked apart the Bears with short passes.
It is becoming clear at this point that the Giants are a West Coast team through and through; Manning is not one to take too many deep shots anymore. However, this has resulted in the finest completion percentage of his career, and has allowed for the team’s speedy receivers to do their damage on the run-after-catch.
A third consecutive 100-yard rushing game would be a true sign that the Giants have the ability to run the ball at a high level, and would provide Manning the offensive balance he needs to manage the offense effectively.
Cleveland Browns: Offense
The New York Giants have started one quarterback in the last 12 years. The Cleveland Browns have started 4 different quarterbacks this season and have had 6 attempt a pass. Needless to say, the Browns have gone nowhere thanks to the lack of continuity at QB. Veteran Josh McCown will get the start on Sunday.
The Browns have had a good running game, led by Isaiah Crowell and receiving back Duke Johnson Jr. Converted quarterback Terrelle Pryor has finally put it all together as a wide receiver; he is the guy to watch out for on offense. Tight end Gary Barnidge is also reliable.
However, this game all comes down to McCown. His offensive line needs to keep him on his feet to even give him a chance.
New York Giants: Defense
The Giants defense bent on Sunday against the Bears, but did not break. Once again, it was Jason Pierre-Paul, Olivier Vernon, Janoris Jenkins, and Landon Collins making the difference on “D” for the Giants.
The Browns are far from an offensive juggernaut, so the Giants can do one of two things: they can either relax and play sound coverage, daring McCown to throw, or they can blitz early and often to make him uncomfortable. Given Steve Spagnuolo’s reputation, one should expect the Giants to be in McCown’s face all game long.
Cleveland Browns: Defense
The Browns run a 3-4 defense, but they may as well have no defenders out there given the amount of yardage they’ve surrendered this season. Huge nose tackle Danny Shelton, young defensive end Emmanuel Ogbah, linebacker Jamie Collins Sr., and cornerback Joe Haden are studs, but they’re all that Cleveland has got defensively.
The Browns are also decimated by injuries in the secondary, which should provide the Giants’ receivers the matchups they need to be successful in coverage.
New York Giants: Special Teams
Despite extremely windy conditions, the elements are no excuse for the lackluster effort the Giants’ special teams put up last Sunday. Kicker Robbie Gould cannot keep missing extra points, punter Brad Wing needs more punts inside the 20, and return man Dwayne Harris needs to execute better judgment on returns.
Cleveland Browns: Special Teams
However, the Browns have been even worse on special teams this year than the Giants. Two kickers, Cody Parkey and the since-released Patrick Murray, have only made 72% of field goals this year. Punter Britton Colquitt is solid, but the return game has been pitiful for the Browns.
This is the easiest possible game for the Giants on paper: they are flying high and the Browns are total pushovers. Despite the Browns’ miserable season though, anything can happen on any given Sunday. The Giants have to respect their opponent and need not underestimate them. Still, this is a game that heavily favors Big Blue.
27-17 Giants (Record picking Giants games: 8-2)