Despite Odell Beckham Jr. missing his chance at revenge against the New York Giants, there are several intriguing storylines to watch.
As soon as the NFL released its schedule, many pointed to the Week 15 matchup between the New York Giants and the Cleveland Browns as a game to watch. It would be the first time that Odell Beckham Jr. faced his old team.
Unfortunately for OBJ and anybody that enjoys drama-filled storylines, he won’t have the chance to face his former team after tearing his ACL in the Browns’ Week 7 matchup against the Bengals.
However, despite the fact that Beckham won’t be on the field to get revenge on the team that drafted him, they are still several intriguing storylines heading into Sunday night’s game.
Will Freddie Kitchens get revenge on his former team?
With offensive coordinator Jason Garrett testing positive for COVID-19, tight ends coach Freddie Kitchens will take over the play-calling duties against his former team.
Kitchens served as the Browns running backs coach, assistant head coach, and offensive coordinator in 2018, before being promoted to head coach in 2019. When the Browns went 6-10 last season, he was fired shortly after their season finale.
Now in an ironic twist of fate, Kitchens gets a chance at revenge against the team that fired him. He’s obviously very familiar with the Browns personnel and tendencies. The question is are the Browns just as familiar with Kitchens tendencies and play-calling?
Will Sunday’s outcome determine Gettleman’s fate?
General manager Dave Gettleman made two trades with the Browns during the 2019 offseason. First, he traded Olivier Vernon for Kevin Zeitler before the eventual blockbuster trade that sent OBJ out of town for Jabrill Peppers and two draft picks that the Giants would use to draft Dexter Lawrence and Oshane Ximines.
The Giants are happy with what they received in the deal as Peppers may get voted to the Pro Bowl, Lawrence is a talented defensive lineman, and the jury is still out on Ximines, who will miss the rest of the season with a rotator cuff injury.
But the Browns hold the edge record-wise since the two trades have been made. They have a record of 15-14, whereas the Giants are 9-20.
In his three years as Giants general manager, Gettleman has a record of 14-31 which puts his job in serious jeopardy.
If the Giants defeat the Browns on Sunday night, they could be back in first place in the NFC East depending on Washington’s fate against the Seahawks. But if the Giants lose, it will be the third consecutive season they have a losing record with Gettleman. The outcome of Sunday’s game could ultimately decide Gettleman’s fate with the Giants.
Can the defense perform at a high level without James Bradberry?
The Giants will be without their best corner and arguably their best defensive player as James Bradberry was put on the Reserve/COVID list.
The absence of Bradberry will make it challenging to stop the passing game. Baker Mayfield likes to distribute the ball to multiple receivers, making it tough to load up on one receiver. The Browns have four pass-catchers who have at least 30 receptions on the season. We will see how defensive coordinator Patrick Graham adjusts his scheme to shut down the Browns without his best cornerback.
Giants run defense versus Browns ground game
The strength of the Browns team is in their running game. They rank third in the NFL in rushing at 156.2 yards per game thanks to their two-headed running back tandem of Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt.
The strength of the Giants is in their run defense as they’re giving up just 101.5 yards per game which ranks seventh-best in the league. It will be pivotal for Leonard Williams, Blake Martinez, and the rest of the Giants defense to slow down the Browns’ rushing attack if they’re going to have any chance of winning.