The dismal Browns went 0-16 last season and the disappointing Giants were 3-13, but both hope their busy offseason will propel them from worst to first, or at the very least put them in a position to score a Wildcard spot in the playoffs.
Strange things do happen – just ask the ’99 St. Louis Rams who went from 4-12 to 13-3 after acquiring running back Marshall Faulk and wide receiver Tory Holt in the offseason.
The 2018 Cleveland Browns
Though Cleveland drafted Oklahoma quarterback Baker Mayfield in the first round, new general manager John Dorsey’s plan is to start newly acquired Tyrod Taylor in 2018.
For this preseason matchup, though, expect to see lots of Mayfield and 3rd backup Drew Stanton as they throw to free agent Jarvis Landry, Josh Gordon, drafted receiver Antonio Callaway and second-year tight end David Njoku.
Last season the Browns were 22nd in the league for passing yards with 201.8 per game.
Browns running game improved
Whoever’s under center for the Browns will balance their deep passing attack against an equally improved running game that includes free agent Carlos Hyde (SF), Duke Johnson and second-round draft pick Nick Chubb (Georgia).
Last season the Browns ran for an 18th ranked average of 107.1 yards per game.
Cleveland’s solid defense even better
The 14th ranked Browns defense added depth in the secondary by drafting OSU cornerback Denzel Ward and signing free safety Damarious Randall (GB) and cornerbacks T.J. Carrie and E.J. Gaines.
The Browns allowed opponents to throw for 230.3 yards per game last season, 19th in the NFL.
The 2018 New York Giants
This offseason was good to the New York Giants. Especially because their star wide receiver is now healthy and their weak running game problems are now solved.
There are many hopeful Giants fans ready to watch the return of injured receiver Odell Beckham Jr. as he and aging quarterback Eli Manning get offensive help from first-round draft pick Saquon Barkley, the Penn State running back who’s predicted to be the next Barry Sanders.
Barkley the answer
The Giants have added Big Ten Champion Barkley, the consensus All-American last season and winner of the Big Ten Offensive Player of the Year for two years running.
The hope is that he’ll improve the Giants running game, which ranked 26th last season and only gained 96.8 yards per game.
Beckham is back, healthy and humble
Now that 3 x Pro Bowler Beckham’s fractured ankle is healed, he’s ready to team up with Manning and remind the world of how effective they can be together.
In 2016 when Beckham started all 16 games, he and Manning teamed up for 101 receptions for 1,367 yards (13.5 yards per catch) with 10 TDs and the team went 11-5 and lost to the Packers in the Wild Card Playoffs.
The Odds on this game:
Most gamblers stay clear of preseason action, but for those willing to take a chance the point spread (according to Gambling 911) for this one is Browns +3 -120, o35 -105 and Giants -3 EV, u35 -110.