The short-handed New York Giants draw one of the weakest teams in the NFL in Week 5, but there's really no such thing as a shoo-in victory in this league. The Cleveland Browns have had a chance to watch plenty of tape in order to stop the Giants without Hakeem Nicks, and they might even have the personnel to pull it off.
Spoiler alert: I don't think that's going to happen. Here's why...
What New York must do to win, offensive edition
Re-find the running game again. The Giants got away from it too much against Philadelphia, which might have cost them against a solid secondary.
Same deal here. The Browns are without Joe Haden, but they still have the ability to match up with the depleted New York receiving corps. Big Blue needs balance.
What New York must do to win, defensive edition
Stop Trent Richardson. Brandon Weeden and his group of CFL-caliber receivers can't beat the Giants on their own. Richardson is the wild card New York has to focus on defensively.
How New York can lose
The Giants can lose by letting the Browns shorten the game by pounding away with Richardson in the same way the Eagles did with LeSean McCoy.
Five most important non-quarterbacks
Chris Snee, David Baas, Kevin Boothe, Will Beatty, Victor Cruz.
I wanted to name the entire offensive line, but opted to leave off right tackle Sean Locklear in favor of Cruz. It's crucial that the Giants get the running game going, but that'll be on the line as much as it is on Ahmad Bradshaw or Andre Brown. Cruz might be the only proven play-maker the Giants have in the passing game.
Injury analysis, Giants edition
Nicks is out again, and there's a chance they won't have Ramses Barden due to a concussion. Cleveland doesn't have top corner Joe Haden due to a suspension, but Haden would have covered Nicks, so it's sort of a wash. But without Barden and with Mario Manningham gone this year, a lot could fall on Domenik Hixon's shoulders Sunday.
Antrel Rolle and Corey Webster are both questionable in a secondary that is already without Kenny Phillips. But I doubt that'll hurt them much against an offense like Cleveland's. I'd be more concerned with the status of Chris Snee, who is also questionable. Losing him would really hurt the offense in its attempt to establish balance.
Injury analysis, Browns edition
Receivers Mohamed Massaquoi and Travis Benjamin could be out of action with hamstring injuries, which would severely hurt an already-tame passing game. I just can't see Cleveland taking advantage of the Giants' banged-up secondary.
B/R NFC East Blog prediction
Again, there's an opportunity to be had for Richardson against a front seven that has had some trouble with the run and might not know what to expect. Ultimately, though, even a big game from the rookie running back and a poor game from the Giants defensively won't be enough for Cleveland to overcome the defending champions in New York.
Giants 27, Browns 14
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