Giants vs. Browns: What to watch for

Larry French - Getty Images

Five things to look for from the New York Giants on Sunday when they host the Cleveland Browns.

It is time to get serious about this weekend's game between the New York Giants and Cleveland Browns. Here are five things to watch for Sunday afternoon.

1. The Giants' intensity level -- Everyone who is familiar with the Giants knows that the pattern with this team for years has been to play to the level of the competition. This Sunday that would be a bad thing. Watch the first couple of drives. See if they are crisp. See if there are penalties. See if the Giants' defense is in attack mode, or back on its heels. See, basically, if the Giants can get off to a quick start and put Cleveland away quickly. My bet? As they usually do, the Giants will find a way to make this harder than it should be.

2. Who's carrying the mail? -- That is another way of saying watch the distribution of snaps -- and carries -- between Giants' running backs Ahmad Bradshaw and Andre Brown. After Brown was brilliant replacing an injured Bradshaw for two weeks, Bradshaw got 58 snaps last Sunday to just nine for Brown. Head coach Tom Coughlin said he was OK with that, but unless Bradshaw has early success running the ball Brown has simply got to get more snaps. Pro Football Weekly trumpeted getting Brown more carries, and I agree. Over the last season-plus Bradshaw simply has not been that effective carrying the ball.

3. Giants' run defense -- The Giants broke down on run defense last Sunday against the Philadelphia Eagles, constantly allowing LeSean McCoy to cut back for big chunks of yardage during the second half. Browns' rookie running back Trent Richardson noticed, saying "If we put our hat on a number, just cover them up; I think we can get good yardage on them." He will be right if the Giants again show the lack of discipline on Sunday that they did against the Eagles.

4. Giants' secondary -- Who is going to play? And how well? At cornerback Corey Webster has a broken hand and a bum hamstring. Jayron Hosley has a bum hammy, too. Michael Coe has a hammy, too, but his should be good enough for him to play. At safety, Kenny Phillips is down with an MCL injury. Antrel Rolle has a swollen left knee and has not been practicing. Paging R.W. McQuarters! Or Jason Sehorn! Or anybody who could line up outside!

5. Giants' pass rush -- Through four games middle linebacker Chase Blackburn is tied with Osi Umenyiora for the team lead in sacks with two. Two! Sorry, but that just isn't right. Jason Pierre-Paul is getting all sorts of attention from defenses, and has only 1.5 sacks. Justin Tuck has none. That's not acceptable, from either of them. Especially with a beaten-up secondary the defensive ends this defense is built around need to make more impact plays.

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