The game this week against the New York Football Giants is huge for both teams.
The Giants (5-8-0) were leading the NFC Eastern Division after a three-game winning streak, but with a loss last week 26-7 at the hands of the Arizona Cardinals now find themselves in second place behind Washington in a division that may find the winner with a losing record.
The Browns (9-4-0) had their own four-game winning streak broken to division foe Baltimore Ravens in a wild 47-42 contest. That loss loosened their grip on the Number 1 Wild Card slot although they remain the Number 5 seed. However, other teams are inching closer.
Which makes this game so necessary for both clubs.
A Giants’ loss coupled with a Football Team win would probably limit New York’s ability to finish on top of their division. A Browns’ loss would topple them downward in the Wild Card standings. Plus, their final game is against the division-leading Pittsburgh Steelers who manhandled them earlier in the year 38-7.
Not that this Browns’ roster is the same - they are not. They proved that against the Ravens that they can indeed compete - and win - against the better teams in the league. Ask the Tennessee Titans and Indianapolis Colts for proof.
This game will be the first to compete against former teammates Jabrill Peppers and Kevin Zeitler since the Odell Beckham, Jr. trade.
Here are the Giants needing a win badly. Here are the Browns needing to continue their winning ways.
So, what do the Browns need to do to defeat the Giants?
Start with the Defense
Get some confidence on defense.
After getting gashed on the ground by the Ravens the Browns face a Giants team that is middle of the road running the ball. RB Wayne Gallman is averaging 4.6 yards-per-carry for the season.
If the Browns can bottle him up and force QB Daniel Jones, or perhaps his backup, former third-round pick of the Browns Colt McCoy, to beat them through the air, maybe Cleveland’s defense can get some mojo going.
Offense remain opened up
Running backs Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt are the engine, but the Browns’ passing attack has taken some major steps forward these past two weeks.
Keep it going on offense. This offense has been really good when the weather hasn’t been terrible.
Would love to see QB Baker Mayfield and company stay hot as they get ramped up for the possibility of the postseason. Keeping Jarvis Landry involved, Rashard Higgins has had his moments while Donovan Peoples-Jones is much improved, is key.
Knowing the Giants’ routine
This is a Jason Garrett offense. He will run the ball on first and second downs.
Third down is where this game will be won. Can the Browns get pressure with their front four and sit on the underneath routes?
The Browns were way too undisciplined with their rush lanes against the Ravens. Now Jones is not Lamar Jackson, but Jones CAN hurt a defense with his feet. The Browns will have to fix some things with their pass rush Sunday Night if they want to get the win.