By Michael Stewart/@golferbad
Introduction: The New York Giants suffered their worst defeat last Sunday to the hands of the Arizona Cardinals 26-7 since losing to the San Francisco 49ers earlier in the season. The lost ended the Giants four game winning streak (5-8) and also knocked them out of 1st place in the NFC east as The Washington football; winners of four straight are now on top of the division. The Giants must now regroup quickly and gear up for the final three games of the season and if they want to reclaim the NFC east crown, they need to start a new winning streak this Sunday night against the Cleveland Browns who are coming off a slugfest defeat to the Baltimore Ravens 47-42 and are now 9-4 on the season. The return of Daniel Jones didn’t uplift the team as he looked sluggish and seemed to favor his recent hamstring injury. Here are my top 5 ways the Giants can get back on the winning track:
- Hog Mollies back to the Rescue: The Giants offensive line has simply been dominating during the team’s winning streak averaging 163.5 yards per game, but suffered a setback against the Cardinals; which saw them only produce 78 yards on the ground. In order for the Giants have any chance in this game is to control the line of scrimmage; which means running ball at a high success rate. On the flip side, the Giants offensive line must give Jones a little more time in the pocket than they did against the Cardinals as the Browns have a total of 34 sacks and the Giants offense have allowed 41 sacks, so expect them to apply ample pressure on Jones.
- Time of Possession: It’s no secret if you control the line of scrimmage, you control the clock. The Giants have been trending upward in this category during their winning streak at 32:59 and overall at 29:54. Once again, they suffered in this category against the Cardinals with only a 22:08 time of possession. This can’t be the case against the Browns. If so, the Brown’s (averaging 30:46) will come close to equaling their 42 points they got against the Ravens and it will be more than enough against the Giants. The Giants must sustain drives and have at the very least a 33-35 minutes time of possession stat line.
- Defense needs to step up again: The Giants defense didn’t play that badly against the Cardinals despite surrendering 26 points. The problem was that they were on the field much too long due to the Giants ineffective offense performance and poor field position. However; with that being said, the Giants defense must (once again) play at the level they did against Seattle and make big plays. This means they need to minimize the Browns running attack of Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt who are largely responsible for the team having a total of 2,031 rushing yards thus far on the season. In the passing game, the Giants need to make quarterback Baker Mayfield uncomfortable in the pocket and force him to make throws either too early or into a crowd. This will be a tall order as the Cleveland Browns offensive line has only allowed 17 sacks on Mayfield and the Giants aren’t a high sack (33) producing defense. The Giants defense has been the team’s most consistent area all season and if they are to win their division; it will rest on the performance of the defense in the final three games.
- Red Zone & 3rd down conversions: The Giants are trending near the backend of the league in the red zone with an overall 50%. Whereas the Browns are currently ranked 4th in the league with a 72.73%. This lopsided stat is a strong indication of what the Giants need to do in the red zone. If they can limit the Browns chances and be successful offensively in the red zone it will give them a fighting chance. The same can be said about 3rd down conversions as the Giants are ranked 26th with a 38.82% to the Browns 42.95%; which currently ranks them 12th in the league. Sustaining drives and capitalizing on your scoring chances is a major key to this game.
- Give and Take: The Giants were slowly climbing up the takeaway/turnover chart until their game against the Cardinals and now sit at 0. The Browns are sitting at +6 on the year and for the Giants, this is a stat they absolutely must win if they have any chance in beating the Browns.
Final Thoughts: It’s crunch time for the Giants as they must find a way to win at least two of their last three remaining games (Browns, Ravens, Cowboys) as the Washington football team has a favorable schedule with the Seahawks, Panthers and Eagles as their last three remaining games. First things first as the Giants must find a way to re-group and prepare for a Browns team that are well balanced offensively and have talent on the defensive side of the ball. I started the year predicting the 1st eight games and going 8-0 in the 1st half of the season. However; since that time I’ve gone 1-4 with an overall record of 9-4. This time around I learned my lesson as I will just go with the facts as I can’t see the Giants winning most of the categories I projected they must win in order to get the victory against the Browns. Currently; sporting lines has the Browns at 66% to win this game and although both teams are fighting for playoff implications, I believe the Browns will be more equipped to execute and deliver more constantly than the Giants will and walk away with their 5th road win of the season; giving the Giants their 5th home loss on the year.
Final Score: Browns-24/Giants-13