1. A lot of attention will be paid to how well the Browns’ offensive line handles the New York Giants’ vaunted defensive line. Specifically, watch the individual battle between Browns Pro Bowl left tackle Joe Thomas and Giants defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul, who has 17 tackles and 1½ sacks.
2. Browns quarterback Brandon Weeden needs to exploit a weak Giants secondary that hasn’t been getting much help in the form of a pass rush. After finishing tied for third last year with 48 sacks, the Giants have managed just eight sacks in four games to start 2012, tying them for 17th.
3. The Browns need to get rookie running back Trent Richardson involved in the offense more consistently, especially early in the game. Richardson carried the ball just 12 times against the Buffalo Bills and just 14 times last week against the Baltimore Ravens, in part because the Browns were trailing by more than one score early in both games and were forced to turn to the passing game in an attempt to come back quickly.
4. The Browns need to limit the production of Giants wide receiver Victor Cruz. Cruz is quarterback Eli Manning’s top target and leads the NFL in receptions (32) and is fifth in receiving yards (388). The Browns will be playing without top cover cornerback Joe Haden for the fourth consecutive week because of a league suspension, so veteran corner Dimitri Patterson will likely cover Cruz for a majority of the game.
5. The Browns’ special teams will have to be careful with Giants rookie kick returner David Wilson. Wilson has developed into a legitimate threat as a kick returner. Wilson had 217 yards on six returns last week. He nearly broke free for a touchdown twice and another long return was nullified by a penalty. Wilson is third in the league with a 30.2 kickoff return average. In comparison, Browns veteran Josh Cribbs is sixth at 28.4.