A playoff berth is there for the taking for the New York Giants, currently 7-3 and holding the fifth seed in the NFC. The one thing they cannot afford before embarking on a five-game season-ending stretch against teams all currently in the playoff race is a stumble against the 0-11 Cleveland Browns this Sunday.
The Giants are saying they understand.
“Beat Cleveland. That is all we are thinking about,” said cornerback Janoris Jenkins. “We are putting in work, just coming out and just knowing what you have got ahead. You can’t focus on the five-game winning streak or the team after Cleveland, just one game at a time.”
“You want to go in there and put your best foot forward and treat this game as if it is as important as any other game on your schedule. You don’t want to buy into the fact that they are 0-11 or whatever the case may be,” said wide receiver Victor Cruz. “You want to go in there and prepare yourself as if they have the same record that you do. So it could be a little bit of a mental thing, mental hurdle for us, but I think this team understands that and will be ready.”
Linebacker Jonathan Casillas figures the Browns are going to beat somebody this season. He, of course, does not want the Giants to be that somebody.
“I've been in the league long enough to know that this team that we played against will probably get a win this year. It's very hard to not get a game this year. They're going to get a win and I say that statistically; thinking about that Detroit team that didn't win a game but when did that happen besides then? They're going to get a win this year, we're not going to let it be against us and we have to bring our A game,” Casillas said.
“Defensively, from the way we look at it, they have a good quarterback, very experienced. I've had my experience with him down in Tampa. They have two good running backs. Those guys are showing up all over the film. We’ve got to be on point. We're at their house and we're about to go on the road, we haven't been on the road in a while. It's going to be a tough game no matter what. Whether it's a big win or a whatever but it's going to be a tough game no matter what.”
As Casillas indicated, the Giants will be on the road for the first time in a month. That makes this game different, even if the stands are likely to be filled with a significant amount of blue Giants jerseys.
“I don’t know any team that’s not desperate for a win each week. That’s why we’re here and why we’re working. Every win is important, every game is important and every week is important,” said Giants coach Ben McAdoo.
This one is especially important to the Giants’ hopes of ending their four-year playoff drought. It is likely the final time this season they will enter a game heavily favored to win, and it’s a game they need to win to put themselves in good position entering the stretch run.