New York Giants Tae Crowder
(Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)

The (5-8) New York Giants are facing a near must-win game against the (9-4) Cleveland Browns Sunday night at MetLife Stadium. 

Jason Leach

With just three games remaining in the season and trailing Washington by a game for the division lead, Sunday night’s game against the Cleveland Browns is essentially a must-win game for the New York Giants.

Defeating the Browns will be an uphill battle for Big Blue as offensive coordinator Jason Garrett will miss the game due to testing positive for COVID-19, they’ll be without cornerback James Bradberry who is on the Reserve/COVID list, and Daniel Jones is inactive. In addition rookie Darnay Holmes will be out with a knee injury.

But head coach Joe Judge has never been one to make excuses. He expects his team to adjust to these challenges and play four quarters of solid football.

“Whatever it takes for us to have success, we’ll go ahead and adjust in the game to make sure that we’re moving in that direction. We always expect to have success. We work for it the entire week throughout,” Judge told reporters earlier this week.

Here’s what the Giants will need to do in order to win on Sunday.

Slow down the Browns ground attack

Slowing down the Browns ground game is one of the biggest challenges the Giants defense will face all season. The Browns are third in the NFL in rushing at 156.2 yards per game, and they have two of the top 11 rushers in the league on their team in Nick Chubb (881 yards) and Kareem Hunt (772 yards).

The Browns use their ground attack to set up their play-action game which is where quarterback Baker Mayfield is at his best. So it will be imperative that the Giants and their seventh-ranked run defense slow down the Browns ground attack. Blake Martinez, Leonard Williams, and the rest of the Giants front seven will need to play their best game of the year.

Win the turnover battle

The Giants can ill-afford to turn the ball over and their defense will need to force turnovers in order to win.

The 238 points the Giants have scored this season is second-fewest in the league only behind the New York Jets, which is one of the reasons they are a home underdog to the Browns.

The offense cannot afford to turn the ball over, and the defense will have to help the offense out by forcing turnovers to create scoring opportunities for the offense.

Special teams need to be special

For whatever reason, the Giants special teams unit has slipped over the last several weeks as they’ve allowed several long returns. With key starters out and facing an opponent that is more talented on paper, special teams can even the balance.

Whether it’s the Giants getting a long kick return, blocking a kick, or having their kicking game excel, it will be paramount that the Giants special teams unit is significantly better than the Browns.

Prediction: The Giants are desperate for a win. We expect to see the Giants take chances and play boldly. But in the end, it’s hard seeing the Giants being able to put up enough points against a Browns offense that scored 42 points last week. Big Blue will put up a valiant effort, but it won’t be enough. Browns 24, Giants 16.

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