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Giants Keys to Victory vs. Browns

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Three keys for the Giants to come away with a "W" on Sunday:

Before the Giants embark on their first road trip in more than a month, Ben McAdoo is making them clean the house.


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The first-year coach knows there is plenty to tidy up despite being on a five-game winning streak and claiming three victories at home in consecutive weeks for the first time since 1962. At 7-3, the Giants are in postseason contention, but four of their final six games are on the road, including two in the NFC East to close the regular season. But first, the Giants hit the road for back-to-back games against the Browns and Steelers.

"Where we go from here, we have to keep focusing on improving," McAdoo said at the beginning of Week 12. "We have to clean our house, we have some sloppy football out there, but it is all correctable."

With that in mind, here are three keys to victory in Cleveland:

START FAST

Including an opening-drive touchdown, the Giants allowed 16 points in the first half last week to a Bears team that came in averaging only 15.7 points per game. Although the defense was able to shut out Jay Cutler and company in the second half, the Giants would rather start fast and not have to sweat out another ending. In the first quarter, the Giants have allowed 62 points this season, tied for the fourth-most in the NFL, and have a minus-21-point differential, tied for 24th. Meanwhile, the Browns have given up a league-high 70 points in the opening 15 minutes.

STICK TO ASSIGNMENTS

Coming off their win against Chicago, McAdoo said the defense needs to cut down on the explosive gains that he said were "assignment-related." The Giants have allowed 41 plays of 20 yards or more, tied with Atlanta and Miami for eighth-most in the league. Thirty-seven of those have come through the air, tied with Green Bay, Philadelphia and San Francisco for fifth-most. Conversely, Cleveland's offense has posted 39 big plays this season (12th), 33 of which have been through the air.

The Giants can also apply this to special teams, which gave up a long return for the third week in a row. In Week 9, Philadelphia's Darren Sproles had a 66-yard punt return. In Week 10, Cincinnati's Alex Erickson returned the opening kickoff of the second half for 84 yards. In Week 11, Chicago's Deonte Thompson had a 40-yard kickoff return.

PROTECT THE DUKE

Whether the opponent is 0-11 or 11-0, you need to protect the football. That's especially true on the road. Despite a flurry of eight interceptions in the last five games, the Giants still have a minus-seven turnover differential on the season. That is tied with the Browns for 29th in the NFL while only the Jets (minus-11) and Jaguars (minus-15) have a worse clip. The Giants did not commit a turnover last week, ending their NFL-long streak of 18 consecutive games with at least one giveaway.

Fifty photos from the 50 games between the Giants and Browns, including postseason

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