The New York Giants will look to win their sixth straight game when they take on the 0-11 Cleveland Browns on Sunday at FirstEnergy Stadium.
The New York Giants, as they should be, are heavy favorites to win, but they can’t have the mentality to think they can just show up and expect to win. They’ll still need to play four quarters of solid football.
Here are the keys for the Giants to beat the Browns:
1. Put a safety on Gary Barnidge
Over the past two weeks, Giants linebackers have given up big plays to tight ends Tyler Eifert and Zach Miller. On Sunday, they’ll face another solid tight end in Gary Barnidge. The Browns know how the Giants have struggled defending opposing tight ends so look for them to get Barnidge involved early. Don’t be surprised if the Giants use three some three safety sets with Landon Collins, Andrew Adams, and Nat Berhe and have one of them cover Barnidge.
2. Don’t come out flat
Last week, after their win against the Chicago Bears, the Giants admitted they started the game flat, and as a result they trailed 16-9 at halftime. As we know, the Giants rallied in the second half and came back to win in front of their fans at MetLife stadium. The Giants need to come out with the focus and intensity as if they’re playing against a playoff contender instead of an 0-11 team.
3. Use mass protection formations
The Giants are in a single back formation with three receivers and one tight end 95 percent of the time. However, on Sunday, with the Giants offensive line will be without Justin Pugh, Marshall Newhouse, and Brett Jones, the Giants will need to use some max protection sets to help their inexperienced lineman and limit the hits to Eli Manning. The Browns are dead last in total defense, so the Giants will have success in base formation sets running and throwing the ball.
4. Win the turnover battle
The Giants and Browns are tied for 29th in turnover differential at -7. With both teams prone on turning the ball over, winning the turnover battle will be crucial. Browns quarterback Josh McCown expected to start and having thrown six interceptions in the four games he’s played in, don’t be surprised if safety Landon Collins has an interception for the fifth straight game.
5. Get Sterling Shepard and Victor Cruz involved early and often
The Browns have one of the best cornerbacks in the league in Joe Haden who is expected to be matched up with Odell Beckham Jr. Beckham will win his matchup with Haden, but the Giants will have a bigger mismatches in their favor when they throw the ball to Sterling Shepard and Victor Cruz. There’s no need for Eli Manning to try to force the ball to Beckham against the Browns 29th ranked pass defense.