Preview, predictions, what to watch for

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Paul’s Pick

The Browns are 27th in the NFL in scoring defense, allowing 28.3 points a game. Can the Giants’ meager attack take advantage of this? They usually do not score enough no matter who starts at quarterback, and they will need more than the 17 points Colt McCoy managed to accumulate in Seattle. The defense, without top corner James Bradberry, is diminished. No one said it would be easy.

Browns 30, Giants 16

Marquee Matchup

Browns DE Myles Garrett vs. Giants LT Andrew Thomas

Some guys just look different, and Garrett is one of those guys. He looks as if he cannot be blocked. Often, he cannot be blocked. He has 10.5 sacks and four forced fumbles this season. Thomas was in the best groove of his rookie year until last week, when he was beaten for two sacks. He will need help dealing with Garrett.

“Myles is one of the best football players in the National Football League,’’ said Giants tight end coach Freddie Kitchens, who coached Garrett in 2019. “He can bend, he gets after the quarterback, he’s long, strip-sacks, all over the field, good in the run game. Three guys on Myles wouldn’t be enough.’’

Giants
Andrew Thomas and Myles Garrett
Charles Wenzelberg / New York Post, AP

4 Downs

Curses, Foiled Again: For the first time this season, head coach Joe Judge dropped an f-bomb on one of his Zoom interview sessions. He was talking about Baker Mayfield and casually said “I love the f—ing’’ attitude he plays with before checking himself. “Oops, pardon my language … sorry guys … can we edit that out?’’

We get it. Mayfield brings out strong emotions in teammates and opponents. In his third year in Cleveland, Mayfield is really getting it — with 23 touchdown passes, eight interceptions, using designed rollouts, playing with the abandon he showed at Oklahoma.

“You want to eliminate that fun element when you’re playing him, but when he’s really condensed in the pocket, he finds those small seams,’’ Judge said. “This guy does a great job of playing freeze tag in a phone booth and coming out the winner.’’

Not Just For Kicks: What once was a strength now is a liability, and it cannot continue if the Giants want to make something of their final month of the season. Judge rose through the ranks in the NFL on special teams, so this stark decline in efficiency the past three games is more than alarming — it is embarrassing. The Browns’ special teams are coached by Mike Priefer, a former Giants assistant.

“One of the best coaches in the league,’’ Judge said. “He has a history of gimmicks. We have to be very alert.’’

Deadly Duo: The Browns really got humming when they turned their offense over to Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt. They are one of three teams in the league that run it more often than they pass it. Chubb (881 yards) and Hunt (772) are on pace to become just the seventh running back tandem to reach 1,000 yards in the same season. Kevin Sherrer, the Giants’ inside linebackers coach, was an assistant at Georgia all four years Chubb was there.

“It’s gonna be a huge challenge, because he’s that big, fast back that you don’t see a lot of anymore,” Sherrer said. “And he’s the type of guy, if he were to walk in the room, you’re probably not gonna know he’s there because he doesn’t say a word.’’

Stick With It: It will be interesting to see if the offense will look and feel any different with Kitchens calling the shots. There is no doubt the Giants need to lean on their ground game. They averaged 4.6 yards per attempt last week, but did not run it enough (17 times) and as a result had just 78 rushing yards. When the performance was characterized as “not terrible,’’ offensive line coach Dave DeGuglielmo was animated and incredulous.

“Not terrible? It was 4.6! What do you mean?’’ he said. “There are 26 teams in the NFL that would take 4.6, trust me. It wasn’t even close to terrible. It was actually pretty good.’’

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