By the time the Cleveland Browns play the New York Giants on Sunday, it will be almost exactly four years since they last played on a Monday night in Cleveland. That game had a surprising result, as the Browns beat the Giants 35-14.
That was easily the best, and most unexpected, victory of the season, as the Browns would finish with a record of 4-12. The Giants, meanwhile, were the defending Super Bowl Champions, and would finish the season at 12-4.
There are similarities between the 2008 season leading up to that Monday night game and this season to date. The Browns entered the 2008 game at 1-3, and they will enter this game at 0-4. The Giants entered the game in 2008 as the defending Super Bowl Champions with a record of 4-0. They enter this game again as the defending Super Bowl Champions, but with a record of 2-2.
The Giants do not appear to be the same defense as they were in recent seasons. In their Week 2 win over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, they gave up 34 points, 24 of which were in the first half. They followed that up with a 36-7 beat down of the Carolina Panthers on a Thursday night. In last night’s loss to the Philadelphia Eagles, they gave up 123 rushing yards on just 23 carries to LeSean McCoy. As a team, the Eagles averaged over five yards per carry.
The Browns are the youngest team in the AFC, with 26 of the 53 players made up of rookies, first year players, and players with only one year of experience. Their youth shows in many areas on offense. Injuries and Joe Haden’s suspension have hurt them on defense. As difficult as it is to watch them continue to lose, I can see that they are improving week to week. On Thursday night they played a superiorly talented Baltimore Ravens team, and made quite a game of it.
Which versions of the Browns and Giants will show up on Sunday? Conventional wisdom says that the Giants will win the game because they are the superior team on both sides of the ball, and can better help the other side when one is struggling. But as history has shown, that doesn’t mean they will win. Here’s hoping for an orange-and-brown colored déjà vu.