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For Sunday Night Football this week, the 9-4 Cleveland Browns will visit the 5-8 New York Giants. Cleveland is coming off a loss in a Monday night thriller but could use a win to secure its grip on a playoff spot. Meanwhile, the Giants will need a win to continue their contention for an NFC East title.
Here is a look at each team, along with a pick to win. Cleveland is a decent 6.5-point favorite on the road.
The Browns have been the surprise contender in football this year, winning four of their first five and being in a steady position to reach the postseason throughout the season. Their latest game, a 47-42 loss to the Ravens, ended their four-game winning streak, but it showed that Cleveland is a legit playoff team after years of futility.
Quarterback Baker Mayfield, along with the dynamic duo of running backs Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt, leads Cleveland to an average of 26.8 points per game, good for 12th in the NFL. The Browns are averaging just about 381 yards per game, 16th in football, but have the third-best rushing offense. They are also converting on nearly 43 percent of their third downs.
Defensively, the Browns struggle to the tune of 28.3 points allowed, 27th in the NFL. They're also 20th in both yards allowed and passing yards allowed per game and rank 24th in third-down defense. However, Cleveland does have a solid 34 sacks to go along with 10 interceptions as a team.
A 1-7 start should've eliminated the Giants from playoff contention early. But thanks to the NFC East and a four-game win streak, New York is very much in contention. Although a 26-7 loss last week to the Cardinals won't eliminate them, a win on Sunday night against Cleveland would go a long way for the Giants to win the division.
With second-year quarterback Daniel Jones and others like running back Wayne Gallman and wide receiver Darius Slayton, New York is ranked next to last with both 18.3 points per game and 319 yards per game. The Giants also sit 30th in passing yards per game but have the 14th-ranked rushing offense with 116.5 yards per game.
However, New York has gotten some good play out of its defense. The Giants are just inside the top 10 with 22.4 points allowed and 101.5 rushing yards allowed per game and rank 12th with 363.5 total yards allowed per game. They also have just one fewer sack than Cleveland with 33 and the same number of interceptions with 10.
Despite a 9-4 record, the Browns are just 5-8 ATS this season. That also includes a 4-2 road record even though they are 2-4 ATS as well.
Furthermore, Cleveland is 2-6 ATS in its last eight games overall and 2-10 ATS in its last 12 road games. The Browns are also 1-4 both straight up and ATS in their last five games against the Giants.
Speaking of the Giants, they are 8-5 ATS this season despite a 5-8 overall record. However, they are just 2-4 overall and ATS at home.
While New York has covered in five of its last seven outings, it is a dismal 4-12 ATS in its last 16 home games and 1-5 ATS in its last six games against the AFC over the last two seasons.
A couple of X-factors to consider are on the Giants' side of things. Jones is questionable, meaning Colt McCoy would start in his absence. Offensive coordinator Jason Garrett will also miss the game, meaning tight ends coach Freddie Kitchens, Cleveland's head coach last season, will call the plays for New York.
For those reasons, I like the Browns in this one. Mayfield has hit his stride, and Cleveland should score enough points that the Giants won't be able to catch up. Add in the Kitchens factor, and I'm going with the Browns to win and cover.
Pick: Browns -6.5