SERIES HISTORY: 49th regular-season meeting. Browns lead series, 26-20-2. The Giants have won five out of the last six regular-season meetings, the most recent a 41-27 triumph in 2012. The Giants and Browns have met twice in the postseason, in 1950 and 1958. That series is tied, 1-1.
KEYS TO THE GAME:
Here is a game the Giants cannot really win. A victory is already assumed against the winless Browns, so New Yorkers are prepared to yawn if the Giants are victorious. If the Browns manage to snap the Giants' five-game win streak, those New York tabloid headlines will have a field day.
Still, consider that the Giants and QB Eli Manning are facing a Browns defense that last week held Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger to a season-low 167 passing yards. The popular belief is that if the Giants can keep Manning upright against a weak Browns pass rush, the passing game has a chance to gather some statistics.
Meanwhile, Josh McCown is getting his third start at QB for the Browns, but looks jittery after breaking his collarbone in Game 2 and knowing that his line has allowed 38 sacks.
Predictably, players are grumbling and coach Hue Jackson, known as a player's guy, is struggling to hold the team together. It wasn't surprising that WR Terrelle Pryor, a former QB, called out teammates, especially the offensive line, saying, "I'm tired of our quarterbacks getting hit." It was surprising that he was joined by usually silent Pro Bowl OT Joe Thomas, who called out management for letting center Alex Mack (Falcons) and right tackle Mitchell Schwartz (Chiefs) leave through free agency. They were replaced by center Cameron Erving and right tackle Austin Pasztor. Jackson had a talk with Pryor and Thomas and reported, "They just want to win. ... It's all coming from a good place."
If the frustrated Browns do manage to win Sunday, New York won't be a good place.
MATCHUPS TO WATCH:
--Giants WR Odell Beckham Jr. vs. Browns CB Joe Haden. Haden leads the Browns with three interceptions. Beckham was limited to five receptions (out of seven pass targets) for 46 yards and zero touchdowns, as the coverage last week seemed to discourage passes his way. While the Browns are likely to provide bracket coverage, he remains perhaps the only receiver capable of beating double coverage if Manning has time to find him.
--Browns WR Terrelle Pryor vs. Giants CB Janoris Jenkins. The Browns' leader in catches (56), yards (724) and receiving touchdowns (four), Pryor has made an impressive conversion from QB in his first full season at WR. Jenkins has quietly led the Giants' defense with his stellar play against top receivers. While Jenkins might allow receptions, he doesn't give up many yards after the catch and has been stingy allowing touchdowns. Pryor leads a pedestrian Browns receiving corps and might be the only receiver worthy of double-coverage consideration.
Browns QB Josh McCown. With six interceptions and two lost fumbles and fresh off three turnovers against Pittsburgh, McCown will be making his third start of the season. He started Game 2 and suffered a broken collarbone. McCown started Game 8 against the Jets and was back on the sideline a week later after throwing two TDs and two INTs. He relieved in the last two games but hasn't found a rhythm. A good performance against the Giants might earn McCown a start against the Bengals on Dec. 11 after a bye on Dec. 4. That said, QB Robert Griffin III is designated to return from injured reserve and practiced Wednesday, but he has not been cleared for contact.
New York -- Out: C Brett Jones (calf), T Marshall Newhouse (knee), G Justin Pugh (knee). Questionable: RB Orleans Darkwa (lower leg), G Adam Gettis (calf), WR Roger Lewis (concussion), DE Jason Pierre-Paul (knee).
Cleveland -- Out: QB Cody Kessler (concussion). Questionable: S Ed Reynolds (knee), CB Tramon Williams (knee).
Giants QB Eli Manning has passed for 2,716 yards , 20 TDs and seven interceptions in the past nine games vs. AFC teams.
Giants RB Rashad Jennings collected 129 yards from scrimmage and a TD in Week 11.
Giants WR Odell Beckham Jr. has caught 35 passes for 738 yards and seven TDs in the last five games vs. AFC teams. His 31 receiving touchdowns since 2014 are the most in NFL.
Browns TE Gary Barnidge caught a TD pass last week and has 1,500 yards receiving since 2015 -- fourth among NFL tight ends.
Browns WR Terrelle Pryor seeks a third game in a row vs. the NFC with a TD catch. He collected 97 yards receiving last week and leads Cleveland with 56 catches, 724 yards and four TD catches.
PREDICTION: It's always tempting to say this is the week the Browns take out their frustrations on the other team and finally win. But we tried that twice, so the plan is to stick to the standard script this week.
OUR PICK: Giants, 28-21.