Oct 102008
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By Eric from BigBlueInteractive.com

Approach to the Game – New York Giants at Cleveland Browns, October 13, 2008: The wins are starting to pile up for the G-Men and that is a good thing as each and every win right now during the “easy” part of the schedule provides the Giants with a greater margin for error when the schedule gets tougher in two more weeks.  If the Giants can manage to get to 6-0, they could easily survive a 3-game losing streak (though obviously that would be less than ideal).  That’s why it is important to win the “easy” games now.  It takes the pressure off.

That all being said, as we all know, while there are lesser opponents, there are no “gimme” games in the NFL.  Cleveland played poorly in the preseason and that poor play has continued into the regular season.  They are in all likelihood, a bad football team.  But they are an NFL team and every NFL team can beat another.  Need evidence?  The Browns beat the Bengals and the Bengals came too damn close to beating the Giants.  Throw on top of that the Giants may be feeling a tad too good about themselves after their 44-6 mauling of the Seahawks that wasn’t even as close as the final score.  Plus, for all intents and purposes, with the season on the verge of slipping away for the Browns, they will be highly motivated to play the NFL Champions on the national stage on Monday Night football – their first Monday night game in quite some time.

The good news is DT Corey Williams was stupid enough to fire up the Giants by announcing that he didn’t feel the Giants’ running game was physical.  Thank you Mr. Williams!  The Giant players may say it doesn’t matter, but it does.  The Browns will pay for those foolish comments.

Giants on Offense: “There ain’t nothing physical about them.”  OK, Mr. Williams.  We shall see.  Bold words from the 22nd-ranked run defense in the NFL.  Especially given the fact that the Giants have the 1st-ranked rushing offense.

So run the ball right?

No.  Cleveland is going to be fired up.  The players.  The fans.  Browns’ defenders will be looking to back up their words early against the run.  I’d cross them up.  Play-action early.  Go deep.  Put two scores on the board early.  Take the crowd out of the game.  Take the heart out of the players.

Plaxico Burress is back.  Domenik Hixon is turning into an impact player.  Amani is still Amani.  Steve Smith keeps moving the chains but he is going to show the NFL soon too that he is capable of making the big play.  SS Sean Jones is one of the better safeties in the NFL but may not play due a knee injury.  LCB Eric Wright is a good player and Cleveland will likely leave him one-on-one with Toomer while focusing their attention on doubling Plaxico as RCB Brandon McDonald may be over-matched there.  But if you bring a Hixon and/or Smith on the field, the match-up problems really begin for Cleveland.  Former Giant CB Terry Cousin is the nickel back.  Point made.

After the Giants go up, that’s when I would really pound the ball and let Jacobs and the offensive line make their point.  The Browns run a 3-4.  Cleveland is a bit banged-up up front with NT Shaun Rogers (shoulder) and DE Shaun Smith (hand) ailing.  Mr. Corey Williams plays on the left side of the defense.  He doesn’t think Chris Snee and Kareem McKenzie are physical?  OK.  Good luck with that.

Let’s just hope Brandon  Jacobs keeps his cool.  We all know he is a bit of hothead.  The Browns will be baiting him to do something stupid.

The Browns do have some talent at linebacker with D’Qwell Jackson and Kamerion Wimbley.  The offensive line will have to adapt to the 3-4 fronts and do a good job of getting the right guys blocked on both running and passing plays.  Blitz pick-ups will be key.

Giants on Defense: Even though Mr. Williams was talking about the Giants’ offense, I get the feeling that the defense will also take exception to his comments.  That’s not good for a Cleveland offense that is really struggling right now (dead last in total offense).  The quarterback, Derek Anderson, is not playing as well as he did last season and is in fact completing less than 50 percent of his passes.  And the pressure to bench him is mounting.  The Browns do have weapons, including WR Braylon Edwards (who has had a bad case of the dropsies), WR Donte Stallworth (who missed the first month with a quad injury but will play against the Giants), and TE Kellen Winslow.  However, Winslow’s been sick (and was actually hospitalized) so we’ll have to see about that situation.  The match-up to watch are Edwards on Corey Webster and Aaron Ross (both of whom are playing at a high level).  Also, assuming Winslow does play, I’m not sure the Giants’ linebackers can stay with him.  The Giants may want to keep an extra safety on the field just to match-up with him.  Third wideout Syndric Steptoe is quick and fast.

The Cleveland offensive line also has some talent.  LT Joe Thomas is a stud and DE Mathias Kiwanuka will have his hands full for the second week in a row.  LG Eric Steinbach and OC Frank Haley are solid.  The key – as usual – stop the run.  Jamal Lewis has a lot of wear on him, but he is still a physical runner, the kind of guy who can give the Giants problems at times.  Don’t let him get started.  Then get after the shaky Anderson.  Justin Tuck may create problems against the right-side of the Cleveland offensive line.

Giants on Special Teams: Josh Cribbs is the primary punt and kick return guy and he is exceptionally dangerous.   Syndric Steptoe does both as well, and he is the guy who gave the Giants fits in the preseason.  The Giants have actually come close to blocking some kicks.  I feel one coming.

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Eric Kennedy

Eric Kennedy is Editor-in-Chief of BigBlueInteractive.com, a publication of Big Blue Interactive, LLC. Follow @BigBlueInteract on Twitter.

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