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Giants at Browns 2016, Week 12: Are there reasons to fear Cleveland?

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Let’s take our first look at Sunday’s upcoming matchup

NFL: Pittsburgh Steelers at Cleveland Browns
Cleveland coach Hue Jackson
Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports

The New York Giants take to the road for the first time in a month this weekend, putting their five-game winning streak on the line against the winless Cleveland Browns (0-11). Are there reasons for the Giants to be concerned? Let’s take our first look at Sunday’s matchup.

The Giants have not won six straight games since the 2008 season, when they began the year 11-1. The Giants are winning, but each victory has been close. The team’s seven victories are by a total of 27 points, with no win coming by more than 7 points.

“We’re winning close games. That’s what you have to do in this league,” said quarterback Eli Manning. “Those teams, win the close games and on the line, we tend to play our best football. That’s a good thing. That’s a great quality to have. You have a confidence that when you get in the fourth quarter and in these close games, we’re going to be able to pull it out.”

At 7-3, the Giants are in position to end their four-year playoff drought if they can finish the season well. That, of course, would include avoiding an embarrassing stumble Sunday in Cleveland.

“We haven't accomplished anything yet,” Giants’ coach Ben McAdoo said this week. “Seven wins doesn't get you very far. We need to keep stacking successes.”

The Giants enter the week uncertain about the status of injured offensive linemen Justin Pugh (knee) and Brett Jones (calf).

Notable

  • On paper, there is at least one thing the Browns do better than the Giants. Cleveland is 25th in the league in rushing, averaging 93 yards per game, while the Giants (77) are 31st. The Browns are fifth in the league in yards per rushing attempt at 4.6. Of course, maybe that just means they are running the ball at the end of games they are going to lose and opposing defenses don’t care.
  • The Browns have started three different quarterbacks this season. Even more stunningly, they have used six players at the position.
  • Those six quarterbacks have been sacked a league-worst 38 times through 11 games. The Pittsburgh Steelers sacked Cleveland quarterbacks eight times in a 24-9 victory on Sunday. The Giants are 29th in the league in sacks with 18, but they have had multiple sacks in five straight games. The Giants had a season-high four sacks Sunday against the Chicago Bears.
  • Going back to last season, the Browns have lost 21 of their last 22 regular-season games. Cleveland’s only win during that stretch was a 10-3 victory last Dec. 13 vs. the San Francisco 49ers.
  • Cleveland’s most productive offensive players are running back Isiah Crowell (561 yards rushing, 247 receiving for 808 total yards from scrimmage) and wide receiver Terrelle Pryor (56 receptions, 724 yards, 12.9 yards per catch, 4 TDs).
  • The Browns are 31st in the league defensively in yards (409.5) and points (29.5) allowed per game.
  • Giants’ wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. needs 181 receiving yards to become the second receiver in Giants’ franchise history with 1,000 or more receiving yards in each of his first three seasons. Del Shofner (1961-63) is the only other player to have reached that mark.
  • The Giants are 7-3 despite having scored only four more points (204) than they have given up (200) this season.
  • Even though they played their first turnover-free game Sunday against the Bears, the Giants are still 29th in the league with a takeaway-giveaway ratio of -7.