The New York Giants (7-3) enter Sunday’s game as clear favorites against the Cleveland Browns (0-11). The G-Men have the third best record in the NFC. The Browns are the worst team in the NFL, mostly due to a downward spiral at quarterback. In this Week 12 Preview, I examine three matchups that will determine whether the Giants will move to 8-3 or if the Browns can pick up their first win.
Eli Manning vs. Jamar Taylor
Browns cornerback Joe Haden is a two-time Pro Bowler and figures to cover Odell Beckham Jr. With Haden’s reputation as a top corner, Eli Manning should to pick on corner Jamar Taylor, who is in his first year as a full-time starter. Sterling Shepard, who has a touchdown in three straight games, could be in line for another big day. Still, don’t expect Manning to take the Browns lightly, as he tells the NYDN’s Gary Myers, “They are going to be hungry for a win”.
Gary Barnidge vs. Giants Linebackers
Before departing with an injury, Chicago Bears’ tight end Zach Miller caught three passes for 61 yards and a touchdown last week. Two games ago, I argued the defense needed to focus on Tyler Eifert, who accumulated 96 receiving yards. The Giants struggle to guard tight ends, and the Browns’ Gary Barnidge will be another tough task this week. ESPN’s Jordan Raanan points out that Barnidge will be tougher to handle with Josh McCown starting at quarterback. I will be interested to see if Steve Spagnuolo inserts a large corner like Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie to guard Barnidge.
Aug 14, 2015; Cincinnati, OH, USA; New York Giants cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie (41) in a preseason NFL football game against the Cincinnati Bengals at Paul Brown Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Andrew Weber-USA TODAY Sports
Joe Thomas vs. Olivier Vernon
This match-up pits a future Hall of Famer against the big money free agent. Joe Thomas, one of the greatest left tackles ever, is a nine-time All Pro and has not missed a game in his career. He will be going against Olivier Vernon, who managed one sack and another monster tackle for loss against the Bears. This figures to be a typical old-school battle that lovers of line play will enjoy.
Week 12 Preview Prediction: Giants win in blowout fashion to move five games above .500.
Week 12 Preview Bonus Prediction: Ryan Nassib will make his season debut!