Giants (5-8) Browns
Monday night the Cleveland Browns played one heck of a game with the Baltimore
Ravens. There was plenty of football action, but the Browns ended up on the losing
side of a 47-42 score.
The Giants game a day earlier was much less exciting,
at least for their fans. The Arizona Cardinals controlled the whole game, and
left MetLife Stadium with a 26-7 win.
last winning season was in 2007 when the Browns record was 10-6. As recently as
2017, they were 0-16 on the year. The winning season before that was five years
earlier in 2002. They went 9-7 to finish second in the division, and lost in the
wild card game to the Steelers. The Browns have a losing history, and their diehard
fans even lost the chance to see them play games from 1996-1998 when owner Art
Modell moved his football team to Baltimore for the 1996 season.
retained the name Browns, the team's colors, logo and records, and had a financial
commitment from the league to help in the construction of a stadium by 1999. Modell
referred to his new team as the "Baltimore Somethings". He launched a fan contest
to select a name, and his team became the Baltimore Ravens. Now at 9-4 the Browns
finally have another winning season, and a shot at making the playoffs.
Is Baker Mayfield playing above his level, or is this the level everyone was expecting
to see in his first or second year? Right now it looks like three's the charm.
On Monday, Mayfield threw his first interception since winning in a Cincinnati
game where he also threw five touchdowns. The five game stretch without an interception
is the longest of his career. Mayfield has 23 touchdowns on the year, and 8 interceptions.
Last week he threw 47 passes, the most ever in one game in his career.
Browns like to run the ball, and they do that more than they pass. Nick Chubb
is the leading rusher on the team, and Kareem Hunt is second, same as last year.
Chubb averaged 5 yards a carry last season, and had 8 touchdowns. Now he's averaging
just short of 6 yards a carry, and has 9 touchdowns despite missing four games.
The Browns suffered two of their four losses when he did not play.
line is playing very well with their run blocking and they have improved on pass
protection. Last year they gave up 41 sacks, and this year so far only 17. The
top receiver on the team is Jarvis Landry who has 60 catches for 728 yards and
2 touchdowns. The Browns have scored more than 40 points in each of their last
In their loss to the Ravens, they
gave up 47 points, allowed 231 rushing yards and 5 rushing touchdowns. To be fair,
quarterback Lamar Jackson was responsible for over half of those yards, and Giants
won't be able to wreck any defense like that. Still, during the Giants recent
four game winning streak, which came to an abrupt end last week, they averaged
162.3 rushing yards per game. The Browns rushing defense was near the bottom last
year, and they are much better now, allowing 114 yards per game.
had 38 sacks last season, and they now have 34, with Myles Garrett being responsible
for 10.5 of them, even though he missed two games after being put on the COVID-19
list. Garrett admitted this week that he is still undergoing breathing treatments,
and has no idea when he'll feel like himself again. Former Giant Olivier Vernon
has 7 sacks, and Sheldon Richardson is next with 4.5. Another former Giant, linebacker
B.J. Goodson, is leading the team with 84 tackles and 2 interceptions.
Jason Garrett tested positive for
COVID-19, and Freddie Kitchens will call the plays for the offense on Sunday.
Kitchens was the head coach in Cleveland last year, and should have some ideas
about what may or may not work going against their defense. Daniel Jones, hampered
by his hamstring and ankle issues, will not start in this game. Some thought Jones
should not have started last week, where he had a terrible outing against the
Jones did not have a single rushing attempt for the first time
in his career, was sacked 6 times, and only completed 11 of 21 passes for 127
yards, and no touchdowns. Jones also fumbled three times, losing one, before being
removed for backup Colt McCoy late in the fourth quarter. The offensive line played
poorly, and the Giants rushed for only 78 yards in their loss to Arizona. McCoy
will play for the first time against the Browns, who drafted him in the third
round in 2010.
McCoy started in the Giants
win over the Seahawks two weeks ago. The offensive line played much better then,
allowing just 2 sacks, and their run blocking helped to provide 190 rushing yards
and 1 touchdown, to go along with McCoy's one touchdown pass. That, and a Graham
Gano field goal, gave them enough points to squeak out a victory over Seattle
thanks to the efforts of their defense. They'll likely stick with a run oriented
offense with McCoy starting, though he might be more comfortable with the passing
attack in his second go around.
It's obvious to defensive coordinator
Patrick Graham that stopping the run will be the top priority against the Cleveland
Browns. The Browns rank third in the NFL in rushing yards averaging 156 per game.
That helps keep pressure off their quarterback Baker Mayfield, and the Browns
have seen that they have had much more success this year by having Mayfield throw
the ball less. In two of their games last month against Houston and Philadelphia,
Mayfield completed only 12 passes in each one, with no touchdowns and no interceptions.
The Browns won both games. You have to remember that Cleveland was coming off
a 6-10 year where Mayfield threw 22 touchdowns and 21 interceptions. Mayfield
is only in his third year, and limiting his throws could be a good development
If the Giants can slow down the run, and the passing game comes more
into play, there could be consequences. The Giants will be going it without James
Bradberry, their best cornerback in the secondary. Bradberry had close contact
with an individual who tested positive, and was placed on the COVID-19 list. Odell
Beckham Jr. would have loved to be in this game, but the Giants won't have to
face him. Beckham's second season with the Browns was cut short after seven games
due to a knee injury. In the last four games before losing to the Cardinals 26-7,
the defense held each of their opponents to 20 points or less. They were put in
poor situations to defend in that loss, and need their offense and special teams
unit to play better against the high scoring Browns.
The magic the Giants had, upsetting the Seahawks
for their fourth consecutive win, did not continue for them in last week's game
with the Cardinals. Now they are up against the red hot Cleveland Browns before
playing in Baltimore against the Ravens. If the
Giants lose their next two games, and Washington can beat either the Seahawks
or Panthers in these next two weeks, the Giants will be eliminated. With their
starting quarterback and top cornerback sidelined, the only edge the Giants may
have is Freddie Kitchens knowledge of the former team he coached just last year.
Sunday at 1:00pm 49ers (5-8)
at Cowboys (4-9).
Sunday at 1:00pm Seahawks (9-4) at Washington (6-7).
at 4:25pm Eagles (4-8-1) at Cardinals (7-6).
Sunday at 8:20pm Browns (9-4)
at Giants (5-8).
No NFC East teams are favored to win in these games.
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McCoy was drafted by the Browns, and started 21 games before being traded in 2013.
Browns have not been to the playoffs since 2002, the longest stretch of time of
any team in the NFL.
Four NFL teams,
the Browns, Lions, Jaguars, and Texans, have never appeared in the Super Bowl.
Browns have not been to the playoffs since 2002 - the longest of any team in the
DEC 27 Giants at Baltimore
3 Cowboys at Giants