Week 15 is going to be a must-watch game for New York Giants fans — regardless of whether the team remains in playoff contention.
While seeing the continued development of the team will be something to follow, the main storyline will undoubtedly be the return of Odell Beckham Jr.
When the Giants traded away superstar wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr., one of the first questions people had was “when do the Giants play the Browns?” While the Giants and Browns didn’t meet in Beckham Jr.’s first year with Cleveland, the two teams are on a collision course for Dec. 20 at MetLife Stadium.
Key Losses: LB Christian Kirksey, LB Joe Schobert, S Damarious Randall
Key free agent signings: OT Jack Conklin, TE Austin Hooper, S Karl Joseph, S Andrew Sendejo
Draft picks: OT Jedrick Wills Jr., S Grant Delpit, DT Jordan Elliott, LB Jacob Phillips, TE Harrison Bryant, C Nick Harris, WR Donovan Peoples-Jones
The Browns were arguably the internet’s favorite team during last summer. The addition of the aforementioned OBJ and promise of second-year Baker Mayfield led the hype train into the season. But then the train came off the tracks as soon as Week 1 when the Titans shellacked the Browns, 43-13. The Browns failed to finish above .500.
But with a new head coach taking over for Freddie Kitchens, the team retaining its key offensive firepower and an improved offensive line, there’s a lot of reason to believe the Browns can hit their potential in 2020.
Mayfield, despite a steep dip in production in 2019, can still be the answer for the Browns at quarterback. He still has the ability to be deadly accurate while delivering passes, and few quarterbacks possesses his natural leadership and infectious energy.
Nick Chubb established himself as a true bell-cow back a year ago. He’s coming off a 1,494-yard, eight-touchdown campaign. Complementing Chubb is Kareem Hunt, who re-signed with Cleveland in the off-season. While Hunt was a relevant non-factor last year, the Browns will likely utilize his dynamic skill-set more this season.
The Giants’ defense will be in for a tough challenge against the Browns. Facing an offense with that much talent won’t be an easy task.
But, of course, the biggest and most noteworthy name who will line up against the Giants defense is No. 13, Odell Beckham Jr.
New York’s second all-time leader in receiving yards plays against his former team for the first time in his career. It’s completely fair to say Beckham Jr. will be playing with a Giant chip on his shoulder (sorry).
“This wasn’t no business move,” Beckham Jr. said last August, according to Kohjiro Kinno of Sports Illustrated. “This was personal. They thought they’d send me here to die.”
The lightning-rod receiver always used his emotions to fuel his performance during his time with the Giants, so him having added motivation on Week 15 isn’t good news for New York’s defense.
While some Giants fans may still be divided on Beckham Jr. the person, there’s no denying how incredibly talented Beckham Jr. the player is. Last year he finished with 74 receptions, 1,035 yards and four touchdowns in what was a “down year” for him. James Bradberry is going to have his hands full.
The return of Beckham Jr. will grab the majority of the headlines, but Daniel Jones vs. Baker Mayfield is another juicy narrative to follow.
Around the same time Beckham Jr. had his feelings being traded publicized, Mayfield canned the Giants for drafting Daniel Jones.
“I cannot believe the Giants took Daniel Jones,” Mayfield said in an interview with GQ Magazine. “Blows my mind.”
Mayfield later clarified his statements, but a natural competition between the two quarterbacks had already been established. In the first year of Jones vs. Mayfield, the former triumphed. Jones finished with more touchdowns, fewer interceptions, a higher passer rating and a higher completion percentage than Mayfield. Before Jones suffered an injury, he was on pace to break Mayfield’s record for most passing touchdowns by a rookie. He still nearly did so, coming four touchdowns short.
Jones and Mayfield may be polar opposites when it comes to personality, but they have similar opportunities to become bona fide franchise quarterbacks for their respective teams.
Seeing the two young signal callers square off will make for a captivating contest.