Giants at Browns: Game preview, odds, prediction

The 0-11 Cleveland Browns host the 7-3 New York Giants at FirstEnergy Stadium this Sunday. Here’s a preview, along with odds and a prediction for the game.

An 11th-straight defeat plunged the Browns deeper into the NFL cellar after last week. By contrast, the Giants edged past the Chicago Bears to keep the pressure on the Dallas Cowboys in the NFC East.

Not surprisingly, the G-men are favored by oddsmakers this week. Big Blue are tipped by seven points, according to Odds Shark.


Line: NYG (-7)

Over/Under: 45

The Giants have the weapons on both sides of the ball to push the over/under of 45 toward the over. Specifically, New York’s defense can feast on Browns quarterbacks this week. The Browns surrendered eight sacks against bitter foe the Pittsburgh Steelers in Week 11. That’s bad news against a Giants defense loaded with quality pass-rushers.

In particular, ends Olivier Vernon and Jason Pierre-Paul  are both bringing the heat. Vernon has been exceptional whenever he’s moved over right tackle. Pierre-Paul isn’t quite vintage-2011 JPP but the player who once seemed set to redefine his position has been dominant recently. He was in on 2.5 sacks against the Bears.

The Giants can wreck the pocket by rushing four or whenever coordinator Steve Spagnuolo dials up zone pressure. If the Browns can’t protect their quarterbacks, they’ll waste their weapons in the passing game.

Wide receivers Terrelle Pryor and Corey Coleman boast the speed to stretch the Giants’ secondary. But the continuing problems under center are rendering the pair moot too often.

There’s nothing irrelevant about Odell Beckham Jr., though. New York’s best wide receiver can beat defenses at every level of coverage. Yet Beckham is in for a tough test this week. He’ll be pitted against Joe Haden, Cleveland’s best cornerback. Haden hung tough against Antonio Brown, the NFL’s best wideout, last week. Browns defensive coordinator Ray Horton would be smart to have Haden trail Beckham everywhere.

One matchup that might favor Horton’s unit this week is in the running game. In fact, a visit from the run-shy Giants is just what the Browns need.

Cleveland ranks next-to-last defending the run but Horton’s unit still shouldn’t fear New York’s anaemic ground attack. The Giants are averaging a mere 3.4 yards a carry, per Sporting Charts. The same source also noted how Big Blue have managed just 19 runs of 10 yards or more this season.

Cleveland boasts the talent at linebacker to snuff out one side of the Giants offense. Jamie Collins, Christopher Kirksey and Demario Davis can all wreck a running game. But Horton needs his D-line to consistently keep blockers off this trio. It’s something nose tackle Danny Shelton and his mates have struggled to do all season.

The Giants are unlikely to mind becoming one-dimensional. They’ll just put the game in the hands of quarterback Eli Manning.

Manning has enough targets to aim for to punish a Browns D’ likely to be let down by a stalled offense.

Pick: Giants 31, Browns 16

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