By Mario McKellop
In the midst of a historically bad 0-11 season, the Cleveland Browns are in desperate need of a win. However, judging by the Giant’s strong performance this year, that win likely won’t come during their Nov. 27 home game against New York. However, if the Browns can tighten up their offensive line and find a way to keep Giants QB Eli Manning contained, they have a chance pulling off a shocking upset.
Giants Record: 7-3
Currently the No. 2 team in the NFC East division, the Giants have had a pretty solid 2016 season. The team started off with back-to-back wins against the Dallas Cowboys and the New Orleans Saints. Their fortunes took a sudden turn in Week 3 as the Giants went on a three-game losing streak, in large part due to Manning’s inconsistent performance.
However, the quarterback regained his focus by Week 6 as he led the Giants to victory against the Baltimore Ravens, the first in what would become a five-game winning streak. As such, the Giants will be walking into FirstEnergy Stadium with a lot of confidence.
Eli Manning has been the cornerstone of the Giants’ offense for more than a decade now, so keeping him neutralized is essential if the Browns want to pick up a win. The best way to do this is to capitalize on his weakness for throwing interceptions. The 10 interceptions Manning has thrown this season, the fifth most in the league, have provoked some intense reactions from his teammates this year. If the Browns can keep the pressure on Manning, especially in the red zone, they can shake his confidence.
By pretty much any metric, the Giants defense outstrips that of the Browns. New York has allowed fewer total yards, third-down conversions and points per game than the home team by a considerable margin. The sad fact is, it doesn’t take much to be better than the team that has the worst defense in the league.
That said, the 354 yards and 20 points per game the Giants have allowed this year means that their defense has nothing to brag about, either. If Browns offensive line can protect QB Josh McCown, he may be able to slice through the Giants’ defense and get Cleveland their first win in almost a year.
Giants Players to Watch: Eli Manning and Odell Beckham, Jr.
Realistically, if the Browns can’t manage to consistently contain Eli Manning, they have no hope of winning this game. Cleveland will also need to keep an eye on WR Odell Beckham. With 59 receptions and averaging 81 yards per game this season, Beckham is one of the best wide receivers in the league right now. If Cleveland doesn’t put in the work to keep him covered, Beckham will just use the Nov. 27 game to pad his already impressive stats.
The Browns are obviously coming into Week 12 as the underdogs. They’re a winless team with poor defense and an even worse offense. But if nothing else, this year has proven that Cleveland can perform miracles when the chips are down. While highly improbable, it is nevertheless totally possible that the Brownies will shock the world by beating the Giants this Sunday.