New York Giants vs. Cleveland Browns - Official Game Thread

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NEW YORK GIANTS (4-0) WEEK 6 CLEVELAND BROWNS (1-3)
VS.
Date: October 13, 2008 Location: Cleveland, OH
Time: 8:30 p.m. ET
Stadium: Cleveland Browns Stadium
TV: FOX
Favorite: Giants by 8
Radio: WMMS, 100.7 FM Over/Under: 43½
SBN Coverage: Big Blue View Announcers
Annoying ESPN Guys

NOTE: I will be attending the game tonight, and therefore will not be able to chime in with commentary as I usually do. If you're viewing the game from home though, please have a blast with keeping the thread active; I hope to come home and see over 500 comments ;)

As more reading digest, you can also check out some questions about today's game that I answered for MSG.com. I have also previewed key position matchups for today's game over at BBV.

We can't head into this game feeling like underdogs. Yesterday, the Dallas Cowboys fell to the Arizona Cardinals. And, the Washington Redskins lost to the St. Louis Rams. The Rams! If that's not a clear reminder that any team can do anything on any day, then I don't know what is. After coming off a bye week, it's a real shame that Kellen Winslow probably won't be able to play, but I think we're getting a more important piece of the puzzle back in Donte Stallworth.

With Ryan Tucker also set to return, will our offensive line be able to hold off the Giants' pass rush and upset the defending Super Bowl Champions? Let's kick off this week's preview with the overall team statistics thus far...

OFFENSE

Category Giants Browns
Points Scored 31.75 (1st) 11.5 (32nd)
Passing 249.8 (6th) 123.8 (32nd)
Rushing 181.3 (1st) 87.0 (25th)
Total Offense (yards) 431.0 (1st) 210.8 (32nd)

DEFENSE

Category Giants Browns
Points Scored 12.25 (2nd) 19.5 (9th)
Passing 154.0 (1st) 187.0 (10th)
Rushing 82.0 (6th) 126.0 (23rd)
Total Defense (yards) 236.0 (3rd) 313.0 (14th)

 

 

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Quarterback

I would have ranked Eli Manning and Derek Anderson close to each other at the start of the season, but each quarterback has headed in a different direction. Where as  Manning has played like the Super Bowl winning quarterback he was last season, Anderson has not even come close to living up to the potential he showed last season. I am encouraged by the positives Anderson showed late in the fourth quarter last week, but nobody can be convinced that that's the Anderson that'll show up today. Anderson did not react too well against the Giants' pressure in the preseason, so we'll see if things are any different this time around.

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Running Back

Brandon Jacobs is averaging 5.8 yards per carry. Derrick Ward and Ahmad Bradshaw are each averaging 6.6 yards per carry. Corey Williams' trash-talking during the week is a little too arrogant for a guy who hasn't shown up much this season, but stopping Jacobs will obviously make or break us. The Browns are still trying to get more production out of Jamal Lewis, and if the team sticks to their word, he will be at the focal point of the gameplan this week. With the Giants being so physical down near the goal line, I hope we don't run Lewis over and over again like we did early on against the Bengals a few weeks ago. It'd be more beneficial to work with the fade route to Braylon Edwards on several tries, or to insert Jerome Harrison and run a middle screen to counter the Giants' pressure.

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Receiver

Welcome back, Donte Stallworth. It'll be Stallworth's first game of the season, though something is still clearly wrong with the Browns' receivers. Take a look at the Giants and the Cardinals. Plaxico Burress missed last week due to suspension, yet Domenik Hixon catches for over 100 yards and 1 touchdown. Anquan Boldin has missed two games, but backup Steve Breaston has looked like a Pro Bowler in his place. If Syndric Steptoe couldn't offer that type of production, how did we not find someone that could? With Kellen Winslow set to be out, it's not a total lost. Anderson has historically had a fair amount of success with Steve Heiden, including in his debut against the Kansas City Chiefs a few years back.

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Offensive Line

The Giants' offensive line has only allowed Manning to be sacked five times this year, and they've paved the way for their running backs to average nearly 6 yards every time they touch the ball. The Browns have been less impressive this year with Rex Hadnot at right guard, but I'm going to give the Browns the "even" ranking this week because it's the only position where they match up well heading into the game. With Ryan Tucker set to return, he will have a huge responsibility trying to contain Justin Tuck. If the Browns' lineman are able to recognize their faults from the preseason and make the appropriate adjustments, we may have a shot at pulling off an upset tonight.

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Defensive Line

Shaun Smith was downgraded to doubtful a few days ago, and it's expected that Louis Leonard will replace him. That makes it even more critical that our offense stays on the field by running the football, because if we allow the Giants to control the clock, Shaun Rogers will be gassed by the time the second half comes around. Smith won't be able to come in to replace him, and Brandon Jacobs will then tear through the defense with more ease than before. Although the Giants don't have Osi Uminyiora or Michael Strahan this year, the production and intensity on the defensive line is just as good, if not better, than it was last season. I envy the Giants for being able to insert their third-string lineman and receive nearly equivalent production to our starters.

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Linebacker

Giants middle linebacker Antonio Pierce has a quadriceps strain, but he insists that he will play against the Browns. The versatility of the Giants' defensive line allows them to treat some of their lineman as linebackers in pass-rushing or drop back situations. The Browns don't have that advantage -- Kamerion Wimbley is never seen dropping back and coverage. Willie McGinest's return is actually huge for the Browns' defense in this game, because without Shaun Smith available, he may be counted on to line up on the defensive line with Williams shifting to the other side of the field, or vice-versa. Either way, rookie LB Alex Hall will have another chance to shine with an increased role.

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Secondary

As Ed from Big Blue View stated earlier in the week, the Giants' cornerbacks can be taken advantage of if Anderson remains poised when the linebackers blitz. The problem is, the Giants are usually so effective at rushing the quarterback, that there isn't enough time to get a throw down the field without being hit as you release the ball. I've been really impressed by how well the Browns' secondary has handled themselves the past three games, but now it's time for some redemption. Domenik Hixon, known as a fifth-string backup in the preseason, made headlines by torching the Browns for three touchdowns.

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Special Teams

Hixon has done well on punt returns for the Giants, but Joshua Cribbs' potential still supercedes that. Before the bye, Cribbs appeared to be getting a little more of a burst again. Having two weeks off, I expect Cribbs to be back at full strength and prepared to accelerate for all of the scores the Giants throw up on the board.


FINAL PREDICTION:
New York Giants 31, Cleveland Browns 20.
I could take the fun route and predict an upset, but the Giants are a team that hasn't let anyone down for awhile.
The Giants are clearly the team to beat in the NFL at the moment, so it would be a huge lift for the Browns' confidence if they were able to squeak out an upset. Either way, I just hope the game doesn't turn out like the first half encounter between the Giants and the Browns in the preseason.

This is the official gameday topic for the Cleveland Browns in Week 6 as they battle the New York Giants on Monday Night Football! All comments regarding the game should be posted in this topic. Enjoy the game, and GO BROWNS!!!

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