Earth, Wind & Fire to Rock Cleveland - Week 6 Analysis
Certain members of the Cleveland Browns should not have ran their mouths this week.
Until DE Corey Williams decided to explain to a reporter that the New York Giants' nominal feature-back Brandon Jacobs was soft, this had all the makings of a trap game for the undefeated Super Bowl Champions. Coming off their absolute dismantling of Seattle, ESPN finally gave the Giants the No. 1 spot in their weekly Power Rankings this Tuesday. Page2's Gregg Easterbrook (followed by a slew of New York sports reporters) wrote a column stating that, when it comes to quarterbacking, Eli is now the better Manning brother. This, if ever, was the moment for the team to take a mental week off and get their brains beat out by a team they shouldn't have had a problem with.
Now? The Giants' intensity should match their performances from the first month of the season, and Cleveland stands to become the next team in a line stretching back to January that could not bring the Giants down.
First, Cleveland's rushing defense is ranked 22nd in yards allowed per game (126). The Giants are currently the top rushing offense in the league (181.3 yards/game). And when the two teams met in the preseason, the Giants' first team put 30 points on the Browns's starters in about one and a half quarters.
Second, this Giants unit has to be able to run the football on NFC East teams, boasting three of the biggest, baddest front sevens in the League, six games out of every year. This exact same group held their own through four super-intense playoff games matched up with highly-touted defensive fronts in Tampa, Dallas, and Green Bay, and against New England on the game's biggest stage.
Corey Williams was on that Packer team last year that got gashed for 190 rushing yards in the freezing cold NFC Championship. You figure he should have known better than to call out the Giants when the team around him is hardly playoff-calibre.
So count on the Giants to pound the ball inside, outside and every which way with Jacobs and his two counterparts, Ahmad Bradshaw and Derrick Ward. Count on the three of them having forty, forty-five touches between them, handed out rather evenly in an effort to conserve all three backs for what is shaping up to be a second straight postseason run deep into January. Count on the Giants' starting offensive linemen, the five guys responsible for all the Giants' successes thusfar, to put a few more Browns' defenders on the ground than on an average day. Count on the zone-blocking scheme that Williams dismissed as having "nothing physical about [it]" producing close to 250 yards on the ground.
And count on the Giants not even stopping to gloat about it afterwards. They've got a title to defend.
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