But still, Giants fans are apprehensive.
It’s not as though they don’t have reason to be wary of the winless Browns. The only thing the Giants have proven consistently capable of is inconsistency.
So with such an unpredictable team, why am I bothering trying to predict anything? Well, because at the beginning of the season I opened my big mouth and said “pre-game predictions” could be fun for McAdoo’s first season.
Yes, sometimes I’m an idiot and a glutton for punishment.
But with that said, let’s get to it.
Gary Barnidge Has A Game
Ed asked on Saturday if the Giants would ever cover a tight end. They might, some day, but I don’t think that day is today. Gary Barnidge isn’t a dynamic receiving threat, but he is a savvy route runner and a wily vet with soft hands, which can be even more frustrating than watching a player like Jimmy Graham running down the seam.
The Browns’ offensive line has largely failed at protecting their quarterback, and Josh McCown has proven to have good chemistry with Barnidge so he could look to get the ball out to him quickly if protection breaks down (assuming Hue Jackson doesn’t decide to keep him in as an extra blocker, of course).
Despite having three capable coverage options at the second level of their defense in Landon Collins, Keenan Robinson, and Jonathan Casillas, tight ends like Barnidge always seem to be able to find the voids in the Giants’ coverage.
Even if the defensive line and secondary can put the clamps on the rest of the Browns’ offense, don’t be surprised if Barnidge winds up with a strong day.
This Will Be A Close Game
I’m not going to disparage the Giants’ players here, they have been playing well overall and remarkably resilient.
And I do want to praise Jackson and the Browns -- despite their record he has had them playing hard week in and week out. There are a lot of teams that would have long since thrown in the towel.
But this is really about the DNA of the New York Football Giants. There is just something about this team that — at times — makes them run the gamut from jovially capricious to tortuously mercurial. It doesn’t seem to matter who is coaching which players in what decade, they always seem to find a way to make things more difficult on themselves. Compounding matters, teams always seem to throw their best punches at the Giants.
I don’t think it is much of a stretch to predict that this game will be tighter than many fans are comfortable with.
The Giants Will Run For 100 Yards
This one seems counter-intuitive. The Giants have one of the worst running games in the league, and that was before they were forced to go to their fourth option at left guard. Also, Danny Shelton is having a strong sophomore season, and Weston Richburg has struggled against powerful nose tackles.
That being said, the Browns have the 31st-ranked run defense, giving up 143.9 yards per game, and the Giants have still managed to rack up more than 100 yards rushing against two of the better rushing defenses in the league the last two weeks.
So while the Giants may not have a 100-yard rusher — though Rashad Jennings has been knocking on the door of late — I do believe they’ll manage to get more than 100 yards on the ground this week.