EAST RUTHERFORD, NEW JERSEY - SEPTEMBER 29: Jabrill Peppers #21 of the New York Giants celebrates after breaking up a touchdown catch against Jeremy Sprinkle #87 of the Washington Redskins during their game at MetLife Stadium on September 29, 2019 in East Rutherford, New Jersey.
(Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)

After last week’s 26-7 loss to the Arizona Cardinals, the New York Giants are in a near must-win game against the Cleveland Browns.

Jason Leach

It was all good just a week ago for the New York Giants. They were riding a four-game winning streak and controlled their own destiny in the NFC East.

But after last week’s disappointing 26-7 loss to the Arizona Cardinals, the Giants are a game behind Washington for the division lead, and now they face a must-win game this Sunday against the Browns.

At 5-8, the Giants will have to win at least two of their remaining three games if they have any hopes of winning their first division title since 2011. Losing to the Browns wouldn’t mathematically eliminate the Giants from playoff contention, but it would leave them with barely a pulse. They would have to win their final two games and hope Washington falters down the stretch.

In their final three games, Washington will host the Seahawks and Panthers, and then travel to Philly to take on the Eagles in the season finale. The odds are they’ll win at least one more game giving them seven wins on the season.

If the Giants and Washington finish on top of the division, tied with seven wins, the Giants will win the division based on their head-to-head matchups. But with only three games remaining, the Giants are running out of opportunities to catch Washington.

In addition, the Eagles are only a half-game behind Big Blue, and the Cowboys are only a game back. If last weekend repeats itself where the Giants lose and everyone else in the division wins, the Giants will find themselves in last place.

So for the rest of the season, the Giants have little to no room for error, and they have to find a way to make sure they’re victorious Sunday night against the Browns.

Defeating the Browns is going to be a tall task. Cleveland has the third-ranked rushing offense in the league and they’re looking to redeem themselves after their heart-breaking 47-42 loss to the Ravens on Monday night.

The task grew tougher on Thursday when it was announced that the Giants will be without their best corner James Bradberry who was put on the Reserve/COVID-19 list, as well as offensive coordinator Jason Garrett who tested positive for COVID-19.

Tight end coach Freddie Kitchens will take over as the play-caller in Garrett’s absence against a team he’s very familiar with. Kitchens served as the Browns offensive coordinator and running backs coach in 2018, and was their head coach last season.

So the question will be is Kitchens more familiar with his former team’s tendencies or are they more familiar with his?

Replacing Bradberry will be one of the biggest challenges that defensive coordinator Patrick Graham will have to deal with all season. Bradberry has arguably been the Giants’ best defensive player and is poised to be voted to the Pro Bowl.

But even without Bradberry, head coach Joe Judge feels confident in his team and will not use Bradberry’s absence as an excuse. The Giants overcame Daniel Jones missing Week 13 against the Seahawks, and they will look to rise to the occasion once again in this high stakes game.

If you told Giants ownership and Giants fans at the beginning of the season that they would be in contention for a division title heading into Week 15, they would have signed up for it. But after having controlled their own destiny just a week ago in a division that has been historically bad, not winning the division would be a disappointment regardless of the current circumstances.

So the Giants will need to come together as a team and play their best football of the season Sunday night to keep their playoff hopes alive.

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