Browns, Giants each looking for bounce-back win
The Cleveland Browns will play their second prime-time game in seven days when they visit the New York Giants on Sunday night in East Rutherford, N.J.
The Browns (9-4) and Giants (5-8) enter the tilt at MetLife Stadium looking to rebound after seeing their respective four-game winning streaks come to a halt.
Baker Mayfield has Cleveland bidding for its first playoff appearance since the 2002 season. The brash quarterback has accumulated nine total touchdowns (eight passing, one rushing) over his last three games while throwing for 677 yards over his last two.
“Baker is obviously playing at a high level,” Cleveland coach Kevin Stefanski said of Mayfield, who recorded season highs in completions (28), attempts (47) and yards (343) in a 47-42 setback to Baltimore on Monday. “He doesn’t lack confidence, and I say that in a good way. That’s who he’s always been, which is great. His comfort level is certainly growing.”
Mayfield said as much after seeing his team erupt for 83 points in the last two games.
“I’m confident in this team,” Mayfield said, “in the guys around me and in what we’re doing.”
The 1-2 punch of Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt added three touchdowns on the ground on Monday for the Browns, who boast the NFL’s third-ranked rushing offense (156.2 yards per game). Chubb and Hunt will be tested by a Giants’ rush defense that is surrendering an NFL seventh-best 101.5 yards per game.
Star pass rusher Myles Garrett (10.5 sacks) and former Giant Olivier Vernon (7.0) have combined to record 17.5 of Cleveland’s 34 sacks on the season. Garrett and his teammates will look to raise those totals at the expense of a New York club that has allowed an NFL third-worst 41 sacks on the season.
Daniel Jones likely will have his head on a swivel, provided he actually plays on Sunday night. Jones was limited in Wednesday’s practice while nursing both an ailing hamstring and ankle injury.
Giants coach Joe Judge said he hasn’t decided whether Jones or Colt McCoy will be under center on Sunday night.
“If (Jones) can defend himself properly in the pocket as I’ve said before on how I’ll handle it, if he’s not at risk beyond any normal game, then we’ll go ahead and give him the opportunity to play,” Judge said on Wednesday. “If we think that’s an issue, that he can’t go out there and defend himself, then we’ll make the best decision for him long-term and the team as well.”
Jones, 23, went 11-of-21 passing for 127 yards in New York’s 26-7 setback to Arizona on Sunday. The loss dropped the Giants a game behind the Washington Football Team for first place in the moribund NFC East.
McCoy, who provided mop-up duty against the Cardinals, was selected by the Browns in the third round of the 2010 NFL Draft.
“You have to go into it and study both (quarterbacks) and understand their strengths and things that they may lean on depending on who is in there,” Stefanski said. “That happens over the course of the season.”
Tight end Evan Engram leads the Giants in receptions (50) while wideout Darius Slayton has posted club-best totals in receiving yards (629) and receiving touchdowns (three).
Wayne Gallman, who leads New York with 561 rushing yards, has been kept out of the end zone in back-to-back games after recording six touchdowns in his previous five games.
Cleveland safety Andrew Sendejo (concussion) and Wyatt Teller (ankle) did not practice on Wednesday.
–Field Level Media