This might be the easiest game, on paper, for the Giants this season. Cleveland is entering the game 0-4 and have played fairly well, almost beating the Eagles in Week 1, losing 17-16. The Giants are coming off of a demoralizing loss that literally saw victory snatched from their hands by mental mistakes. It would be very easy to have a complete letdown against the Browns this weekend.
The Browns, despite being winless this year, have not lost by more than 10 points in any game. They had a chance to beat the Baltimore Ravens last Thursday, getting two shots in the end zone but Brandon Weeden’s passes fell incomplete.
Trent Richardson is a dynamic back who seems to get better every week. The Giants will need to shut Richardson down like they did to LeSean McCoy in the first half of last week’s game and like they did to the Carolina Panthers in Week 3. They cannot have a meltdown like they did in the second half last week where McCoy rushed for over 100 yards.
The Giants are a banged up football team right now. The list of major players battling some type of injury is huge for the Giants. Ramses Barden has a concussion and still needs to be cleared to play. Hakeem Nicks might miss his third straight game with swelling in his knee. Kenny Phillips has a sprained knee. Corey Webster still has a cast on his hand. Michael Coe and Jayron Hosley are coming off of hamstring injuries. This is a Giants team that needs guys to step up and fill the voids.
The table is set for an upset. It is up to the Giants to prevent that, to come out of the gate strong and play the kind of football they are capable of playing. If they let the Browns hang around the Giants faithful could be in for a disappointing Sunday.
The Giants will need to run the ball effectively, especially if Nicks and Barden can’t go. Last week the Giants managed 57 yards against the Eagles despite getting Ahmad Bradshaw back. This must improve. The Browns enter the game allowing 117 yards per game on the ground, one yard less than the Giants defense allows per game. The Giants will need to neutralize Richardson while establishing the run early. If the running game moves it will open up a world of possibility for Eli Manning and the passing attack.
Ultimately, I think the Giants come ready to play and hand Cleveland their first loss of more than 10 points this year. However, I expect Weeden to have his third 300 yard passing day of the season.