The Giants are coming off two straight games in which they gained over 100 yards on the ground. This week, they face one of the league's worst run defenses in the Cleveland Browns, who are allowing 144 yards per game and 4.6 yards per carry. They have also surrendered 13 touchdowns on the ground.
The Giants will try to exploit that with a running game that has shown some signs of life the past few weeks. Pro Football Focus has suggested that fantasy football owners consider inserting RB Rashad Jennings in their lineups this Sunday.
"This one is pretty easy. Cleveland has given up 100-plus yards to opposing backfields in each of their last five games with eight rushing touchdowns yielded to the position over that span. Three weeks ago, it appeared like rookie Paul Perkins pulled even with Jennings in the Giants backfield, but Jennings was the clear lead back last, out-touching Perkins 26-6. Jennings doesn't have massive upside, but he's a rock solid RB2 play in this one."
Not so fast, I say. The Giants will be without three offensive linemen on Sunday: LG Justin Pugh (knee) and backups Brett Jones (calf) and Marshall Newhouse (knee). Adam Gettis, who is listed as questionable with a calf injury, is supposed to be the starter at LG.
The Giants will have four of their five starters in the lineup in C Weston Richburg, RG John Jerry and tackles Ereck Flowers and Bobby Hart. The other two healthy linemen are Will Beatty, who hasn't seen any significant action since retuning to the team, and Shane McDermott, who was signed off the practice squad this week.
They should be fine in pass protection, but running up the middle could be a problem. It has been all year and this Browns team, despite their 0-11 record and lousy stats, may prove to be a tougher opponent than you would think.
DT Danny Shelton has 43 tackles this season, tied for fifth among all defensive linemen and ILB Christian Kirksey is tied for third overall in NFL with 101 tackles. The Giants might want to try running outside but they may find some resistance there as well. OLB Jamie Collins, who came over from New England in a midseason trade, has 26 tackles (three for a loss), a sack and a forced fumble in his three games with the Browns.
The lineup is naturally a game day decision, and it is very possible the coaching staff shuffles things up. Hart may end up at guard at some point and Beatty could be back at tackle. Either way, don't count on the Giants running wild on the Browns this Sunday.