Browns vs. Giants Preview and Predictions

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Thursday night's pre-season NFL slate brings together the teams that had the first two picks in the draft. 

One of the teams, the Cleveland Browns, aren't looking for something from their top pick, the #1 overall, until some point down the road. The other team, the New York Giants, not only expect returns immediately from their rookie, they are hoping that he will be a transformative player for them. 

Both franchises could use a turnaround. But the Browns are the side that went winless last season. They posted the second 0-16 ledger in league history (4-12 against the number), then went about making some adjustments to their front office, bringing in John Dorsey, who had been the general manager with the Kansas City Chiefs. They've also made several player acquisitions that have fans looking forward with genuine optimism. 

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The Giants made the playoffs in 2016, then saw things go all the way downhill last year, with a 3-13 record (7-9 ATS). Ben McAdoo went from an offensive guru to someone who "lost the locker room," and an injury to Odell Beckham Jr. did not help. The unthinkable even happened, as Eli Manning took a seat for one game. Nothing was managed well, and Dave Gettleman, the former GM in Carolina, has taken control, even as he is involved in a battle with cancer. 

The pre-season opener for both teams takes place on Thursday night at 7 PM ET at MetLife Stadium in the Meadowlands. 

TV: 7 PM ET, NFL Network.  LINE: Giants -2.5. O/U: 34.5

ABOUT THE BROWNS:  Hue Jackson was retained as head coach, and even though Heisman Trophy winner Baker Mayfield was the #1 pick in the draft, he is adamant that Tyrod Taylor, acquired from Buffalo, is his quarterback of the here and now. The receiver corps may be a little thin, as Corey Coleman was traded to Buffalo, and Josh Gordon has been in Florida, receiving treatment for anxiety and substance abuse issues. The team made a bold off-season move in picking up Jarvis Landry, who was the NFL's leading pass-catcher with the Miami Dolphins last year, and they are impressed with what they've seen out of fourth-round draft pick Antonio Callaway. There has been a lingering question as to who is going to protect the quarterback's blind side, with All-Pro Joe Thomas having retired. Shon Coleman was slated for the left tackle role, but he has stumbled in camp, so Joel Bitonio has been moved outside from guard, with rookie Austin Corbett stepping into the void he left. Jackson is mourning the loss of his mother and brother, both of whom have passed away in the last two weeks.  

ABOUT THE GIANTS: Saquon Barkley, the rookie running back from Penn State, has the potential to completely change the Giants' offense, because of the fact that he can line up in the backfield, split out wide, or go in the slot. As for Beckham, he appears to be healthy less than a year after breaking his ankle, but he is very interested in getting together with the team on a long-term contract. He is "optimistic" that will happen, and even though it is not inked just yet, he is still participating in training camp drills. There are a lot of eyes on Evan Engram in camp. The Giants' second-year tight end led the team with 64 catches last year, but also dropped eleven, more than anyone else at his position. New head coach Pat Shurmur is doing some shuffling around on the offensive line for the spots that have not been solidified. Nate Solder is now installed at left tackle, and rookie Will Hernandez is at one of the guard positions. But right tackle could be a mess, as Ereck Flowers is lacking, John Jerry may not fit in, and other options are shaky. Backup tackles Chad Wheeler and Nick Becton have reportedly not looked good in drills. Cornerback depth is also an area where there has been a great deal of uncertainty. There is a revolving door of guys in and out of camp, and everyone, including special teams ace Michael Thomas, seems to be battling for the free safety job. 


1. Shurmur was the head coach of the Browns in 2011 and 2012, compiling a 9-23 record. He has brought Mike Shula, son of Hall of Famer Don Shula, aboard as the offensive coordinator. 

2. The Browns, despite their 0-16 regular season record, were 4-0, both straight-up and against the spread, in the pre-season slate last year. In 2016, however, they were 0-4 SU and ATS in exhibition games. 

3. For the Giants, Davis Webb is the backup QB, with heady rookie Kyle Lauletta (Richmond) also in the queue, and the team just signed Alex Tanney, who is with his eighth different team and, unlike Webb or Lauletta, has actually thrown some regular season NFL passes (14, to be exact). 

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Last Injuries

New York Giants

  • Adrian Colbert

    Ques Sun | questionable

    Colbert has been absent from the previous two games due to an injured quad, and it is uncertain if he will take the field Sunday against the Rams.

  • Brandon Williams

    Ques Sun | questionable

    Williams missed the previous game with a groin injury, and it is unclear if he will be active for Sunday's contest versus the Rams.

  • Jabrill Peppers

    Ques Sun | questionable

    Peppers exited the previous game with a low-ankle sprain, and it is unknown if he will play against the Rams on Sunday.

  • Sterling Shepard

    Out indefinitely | I-R

    Shepard has been shifted to the injured reserve list with turf toe, and he is without a definitive timetable for recovery.

  • Carter Coughlin

    Prob Sun | probable

    Coughlin missed the last game due to a hamstring injury, but he is likely to available against the 49ers on Sunday.

  • Saquon Barkley

    I-R | I-R

    Barkley has been moved to the injured reserve list with a torn ACL in his right knee.

  • Tae Crowder

    Prob Sun | probable

    Crowder sat out the previous game with a hamstring injury, but it is not expected to interfere with his status for Sunday's contest with the Bears.

  • Golden Tate

    Prob Sun | probable

    Tate missed the last game due to a hamstring injury, but he is likely to play Sunday versus the Bears.

Cleveland Browns

  • Ricky Seals-Jones

    Ques Sun | questionable

    Seals-Jones has missed the previous three games due to a right leg injury, and it is undetermined if he will return Sunday versus the Patriots.

  • Denzel Ward

    Ques Sun | questionable

    Ward left the last game after aggravating a groin injury, and it is undermined if he will play Sunday versus the Cowboys.

  • Jacob Phillips

    Ques Sun | questionable

    Phillips has sat out the last two games due to a knee injury, and it is unknown if he will draw back into the lineup against the Cowboys on Sunday.

  • Olivier Vernon

    Ques Sun | questionable

    Veronon has been held out of the previous two games with an abdominal injury, and it is uncertain if he will return to the fold Sunday versus the Cowboys.

  • Greedy Williams

    Ques Sun | questionable

    Williams has missed the past three games due to a shoulder injury, and it is unclear if he will return Sunday against the Cowboys.

  • Jojo Natson

    I-R | I-R

    Natson is on the injured reserve list due to a torn ACL in his knee.

  • Kareem Hunt

    Ques Sun | questionable

    Hunt is dealing with a groin injury, and it has yet to be established if he will take the field against the Cowboys on Sunday.

  • Tae Davis

    Ques Sun | questionable

    Davis exited previous game due to an elbow injury, and it remains to be seen if he will take the field Sunday versus the Cowboys.