Giants win sixth straight by edging woeful Browns

The surging Giants edged out their sixth win in a row on Sunday, this time over a plucky but woefully overmatched Browns team, 27-13. Here's what we learned:

  1. It won't bother the Giants (8-3) that, in the last two weeks, they were pushed back physically by the basement-dwelling Chicago Bears and winless Cleveland Browns (0-12). But should it? As we wrote a week ago, their defensive line is an agent of chaos and has been carrying them through their tougher games all season long. Interior lineman Johnathan Hankins blew up a fourth-quarter passing attempt by Josh McCown, causing a fumble that Jason Pierre-Paul picked up and ran back for a touchdown. Over 48 drop backs, McCown was sacked seven times Sunday, hit 10 times and knocked down another 10 times. While it says just as much about the Browns' patchwork offensive line, this is a playoff-caliber defense with tons of strength up the middle. The Giants are on their longest winning streak since 2008 -- a year after they won the Super Bowl.
  1. The Browns remain winless, but not for lack of effort. Before Pierre-Paul's long touchdown rumble? A 54-yard bomb from McCown to Terrelle Pryor, who had six catches for 131 yards. Hue Jackson was going for it on fourth down, he employed a swinging-gate type motion formation at least three times and attempted a halfback pass. The Browns are emptying the bucket emotionally each and every week and it's hard to imagine them not sneaking into the win column at some point. Sunday's Dolphins game aside, the 49ers have not been playing at the same level as the Browns this year. It would be fascinating (and devastatingly irresponsible) to see a one-game playoff between the two for the right to draft No. 1.
  1. Most fully healthy teams don't have a player capable of matching up with Odell Beckham, but the Browns tried to do so with a banged-up Joe Haden. Haden was suckered into a foot race on Beckham's first touchdown of the day -- a 32-yard catch and run in the second quarter -- and was seen chugging behind the Pro Bowl wideout on several missed deep attempts by Eli Manning early in the game. The two-deep zone was simply in an effort to minimize the damage but Beckham ended the game with six catches for 96 yards and a pair of scores. His second touchdown, by the way, was against a two-deep defense with man coverage underneath where he was matched up with Browns linebacker Christian Kirksey. Yikes.
  1. Giants rookie corner Eli Apple gave up the long pass to Terrelle Pryor but before that was playing a nice game. We've talked a lot about safety Landon Collins this year but not enough about Apple. The Giants knew there would be some lingering penalty issues from his time in college but probably could not be happier with how aggressive he's been against top-tier receivers. His play has allowed Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie to specialize and Janoris Jenkins to ascend to a No. 1 role. For a pick that seemed to be the Giants' second choice, it turned out well.
  1. The Browns' winless road show will next appear in Cleveland on Dec. 11 against the Bengals. After that? At Buffalo, home against San Diego and at Pittsburgh in a Jan. 1 matchup that could very well be the difference between a Steelers postseason berth and a winter spent at home. Meanwhile, the Giants head to Heinz Field next weekend before a premiere showdown against Dallas at home on Dec. 11.
  1. Odell Beckham did not seem to be bothered by a jammed thumb that caused him to miss a very small portion of the first half. As NFL Network's Mike Garafolo noted, it was a prior injury -- one that the Giants hope won't linger as they get deeper into the season. Though for Beckham it may not matter. He's gutted through some pretty serious injuries in the past.
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