Cleveland Browns vs. New York Giants
Line: Cleveland -6
Where: MetLife Stadium
When: Sunday, 12/20, at 8:20 p.m. ET
Cleveland will play its second consecutive primetime game when it travels to MetLife Stadium for a meeting with the Giants on Sunday night.
The Browns are coming off the bad beat of the season in the NFL, as a late safety led to Baltimore covering the spread as a field-goal favorite last week. They opened as 3-point favorites of their own this week, but the line has been bet up to Cleveland -6.5 as of Thursday afternoon.
Sunday night’s total has seen some early action on the ‘under,’ driving the number down to 44 from the opener of 46.5. New York had its four-game winning streak snapped in a blowout loss to Arizona last week.
The Browns will also be looking to bounce back after their four-game winning streak was snapped in the wild loss to Baltimore. Their defense allowed 35 points to Tennessee and 47 points to the Ravens over their last two games, so that will be an emphasis in this one.
Quarterback Baker Mayfield has continued to play well, throwing for 343 yards and two touchdowns on Monday night. He has completed 62.3 percent of his passes this season and has a 23-to-8 touchdown-to-interception ratio.
Running back Nick Chubb is averaging 5.9 yards per carry and has 882 rushing yards, despite only playing in nine games. Kareem Hunt has added 772 yards and five touchdowns to create the deadliest running back duo in the NFL.
Jarvis Landry has been Mayfield’s top target, catching 60 passes for 728 yards and two touchdowns. Rashard Higgins has added 31 receptions for 468 yards and four touchdowns. Higgins has become more productive since Odell Beckham Jr. went down with a season-ending injury.
They will be facing a New York defense that sits just outside the top 10 in the NFL, allowing 342.9 yards per game. The Giants have been much better against the run than against the pass, so it could set up well for Mayfield to have a big game.
Quarterback Daniel Jones started last week’s game against Arizona, despite dealing with a right hamstring strain. Jones is now dealing with a second “lower leg issue,” according to head coach Joe Judge. There has not been a decision made about who will start Sunday’s game.
Backup Colt McCoy will make the start if Jones is unable to go. McCoy started in New York’s win against Seattle and has completed 21 of 35 attempts this season. He is unable to present a rushing threat like Jones, though.
Running back Wayne Gallman leads the team with 121 carries for 561 yards and six touchdowns. Jones has added 403 yards on 55 attempts, averaging 7.3 yards per carry.
Wide receiver Darius Slayton has caught 42 passes for a team-high 629 yards and three touchdowns. Tight end Evan Engram has 50 receptions for 526 yards and a score, while Sterling Shepard has added 45 catches for 416 yards.
The Giants rank second-to-last in the NFL in yards per game, only racking up an average of 300.1. They will be facing a Cleveland defense that has struggled against some good offenses, but is only allowing 363.1 yards per game.
Offensive coordinator Jason Garrett tested positive for COVID-19 and will miss this game. Tight ends coach Freddie Kitchens will take over the play calling duties.
The Browns are 2-6 against-the-spread in their last eight games and are 2-10 ATS in their last 12 road games. New York has covered in five of its last seven games, but is 4-12 ATS in its last 16 home contests.
The Pick: Cleveland -6
This number spiked up on Thursday afternoon as news was released about Jones’ additional injury and the absence of Garrett at offensive coordinator. Cleveland should win this game by at least a touchdown. New York is not going to have a very mobile quarterback on Sunday, regardless of who the starter is. Cleveland has struggled defensively over the last few weeks, but this is a great chance for them to re-set. Mayfield has not let off the gas this month and is playing fantastic football, so I expect him to slice up the New York secondary. Chubb and Hunt will be one of the toughest tests the Giants front seven has faced this season