The Browns fell short in the "Game of the Year" on Monday Night Football in a 47-42 shootout with the Baltimore Ravens. Despite the loss, the Browns proved to the world and themselves that they absolutely are a team with the ability to beat anyone in the NFL and make a deep playoff run.
In order to get to the playoffs, the Browns need to continue to display their resilience and ability to bounce back from a disappointing result. The Browns have not lost consecutive games this year and will look to continue that trend in another primetime game against the New York Giants on Sunday Night Football. It will be a strength versus strength matchup as the Browns elite offense takes on a stingy Giants defense.
Like the Browns, the Giants enter Week 15 coming off a loss. Also like the Browns, the Giants had won four straight games before the Week 14 setback. The Giants are still very much in the NFC East divisional picture despite their 5-8 record overall and have a lot to play for on SNF. The Giants have been carried by their defense during the winning streak but have developed a solid ground game as well led by running back Wayne Gallman. There will be familiar faces aplenty in this one as former Browns head coach Freddie Kitchens will be calling the plays for the Giants and former Browns quarterback Colt McCoy could get the nod for the injured Daniel Jones.
The Browns have been the better team this season and need to execute the plan in this week's Winning Mix to get the all-important victory.
1. Generate takeaways on defense and win the turnover battle
After leading the NFL with 17 takeaways in the first eight games of the season, the Browns defense has hit a bit of a lull in that department of late. The Browns have not generated a single takeaway in five of their last seven games, a trend that has to change against the Giants. After all, the turnover margin has been directly correlated to the outcomes for the Giants in 2020. In their four-game winning streak, the Giants won or were neutral in the turnover battle in every game and were plus-8 overall in the turnover margin. In their loss to the Cardinals last week, the Giants were minus-3 in the turnover battle and were handed a 19-point loss.
Just to put a bow on this thought: The Browns lost the turnover battle in all four of their losses this year. In other words, they do not have a single loss in 2020 when they are either even or in the positive in the turnover battle. When you are the better team, as the Browns have been, you just have to handle your business, protect the football and you will win.
2. Stop Gallman and get after the QB
The Giants probably thought their running game was doomed when star back Saquon Barkley went down with a season-ending injury back in Week 2. Well, Gallman had other ideas, as he stepped into the starting role and started producing at a very high level. For the year, Gallman leads the Giants with 561 rushing yards and six touchdowns while averaging a robust 4.6 yards per carry. Gallman has scored or rushed for 100 yards in every game but one since Week 6. The one exception was last week, which saw Gallman rush for 57 yards and no scores in the team's loss to the Cardinals. During the Giants' four-game winning streak, Gallman rushed for 87.5 yards and a touchdown per game on 4.9 yards per carry. He has been the most consistent weapon for the Giants this year, and the Browns need to contain him to put their offense into obvious passing situations.
The Giants have the second-worst pass blocking offensive line in the NFL, according to Pro Football Focus, and just last week, the Cardinals racked up eight sacks in their decisive win. Arizona edge rusher Hassan Reddick had five sacks and three forced fumbles of his own in the game, so I know Myles Garrett and Olivier Vernon are licking their chops. Garrett leads the Browns with 10.5 sacks, and the former Giant, Vernon, has accumulated seven sacks in his last six games. Getting the Giants into passing situations will allow the Browns defensive front to turn up the heat, generate turnovers and get them off the field on third downs. The Giants were just three-of-12 on third downs last week when their quarterbacks were under duress on a whopping 65 percent on their passes. Whether it is a less-than-100 percent Jones or McCoy (4.5 yards per attempt on the season), the Browns should be able to generate game-changing pressure that leads to sacks and turnovers.
Check out exclusive photos of the Browns preparing for their game against the New York Giants
3. Dominate the first half and put the game away early
When the Browns have the lead at halftime, they are undefeated with an astonishing record of 8-0. When the Browns trail at halftime, they are just 1-4, so you could say that first half performance is the team's leading indicator of success in 2020.
With the way the offense is playing of late, I'd love to see the Browns put the pedal to the metal and come out firing. Over the last three games, the Browns are second in the NFL in both scoring offense and total offense with 36.7 points and 470 yards per game, respectively. Baker Mayfield has been a top 5 quarterback in the NFL, the Browns running game is the best in the NFL when both Chubb and Hunt are in the lineup and the receivers are consistently making big plays.
On Sunday Night Football, let's pick up where we left off offensively against the Ravens and use dominance at the point of attack defensively to stymie the Giants offense. A couple of quick scores could demoralize the Giants and allow the Browns to cruise to a much-needed victory.