New York Giants (4-0) at Cleveland Browns (1-3)
KICKOFF: Monday, 8:30 ET
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TV: ESPN (Mike Tirico, Ron Jaworski, Tony Kornheiser, Suzy Kolber, Michele Tafoya)
SERIES: 47th regular-season meeting. Browns lead series, 25-19-2. The Giants have won the last four meetings, dating back to 1985.
PREDICTION: Giants 37-20
KEYS TO THE GAME: The Giants proved last weekend that they have developed a plethora of young playmakers, but WR Plaxico Burress is still expected to return to the starting lineup following his one-game suspension. For the Browns to keep the game competitive, they must stop RB Brandon Jacobs and bring the heat against QB Eli Manning. The problem is Cleveland's defense has produced just six sacks this season and Manning is playing with an extreme amount of confidence. ... The Browns are hoping that having WR Donte Stallworth healthy for the first time this season will provide QB Derek Anderson with more confidence as he'll have a complementary threat to Braylon Edwards. But the offense must be set up by RB Jamal Lewis, who has the ability to provide more manageable passing downs while also keeping the Giants' red-hot offense on the sideline. Anderson is already on a short leash with the fans, and could be with coach Romeo Crennel as well if he commits a few turnovers.
KEY INJURIES: Giants: WR Domenik Hixon and RT Kareem McKenzie both suffered concussions last Sunday but should play. Browns: SS Sean Jones (knee) is out.
FAST FACTS: The Giants have not allowed a first-quarter touchdown this season. ... The Browns have committed 37 penalties in four games.
GIANTS PERSONNEL NEWS
--C Shaun O'Hara, asked to comment on Browns DE Corey Williams' charge that the Giants are a zone-blocking running team and not overly physical, just smiled. "Tell me how we can gain 246 yards rushing (last week vs. Seattle) and not be physical," he said.
--ORT Kareem McKenzie and WR Domenik Hixon suffered concussions in the Seattle game, but Hixon practice under limited participation while McKenzie was held out. The big tackle has had a history of migraines and that is probably one of the reasons the doctors wanted him to have an extra day of rest.
--QB Eli Manning is third in the NFL in passing and his QB rating of 99.7 is by far the highest of his career at any point in the four previous seasons. "I am simply getting good route running from the receivers and good blocking from the O-line," he said. "Those guys make this easy."
There was no comment on a rumor that the Giants and Manning are working on a new contract (his expires at the end of this season) that would pay him in excess of $100 million for seven years, exactly $1 million more than the seven-year contract his older brother, Peyton, signed in Indianapolis.
--WLB Gerris Wilkinson appears to have won the battle for the starting job with rookie Bryan Kehl, but head coach Tom Coughlin won't exactly confirm that. "Gerris is getting more of the snaps but Bryan will get some with the first and second down formations as well. Nothing is etched in stone," Coughlin said.
BEHIND ENEMY LINES
You probably wouldn't want to anger a finely-tuned athlete who happens to be 6-feet-4 and weighs 260 pounds. But on the other hand, if you stood 6-4 and weighed 320, you just might not consider that to be a detriment to your health.
In any case, with the Giants and Browns preparing for their Monday night encounter, Cleveland defensive end Corey Williams decided to provide bulletin board material for the Giants when he seemed to denigrate the Giants' Brandon Jacobs, the gigantic running back who has 380 yards and a 5.8-yard average per carry.
"It's just a zone-blocking scheme that lets him (Jacobs) pick a hole," said Williams. "There ain't nothing physical about it." Williams came from the Green Bay Packers, who faced the Giants for the NFC championship last January, and he remembered that encounter. "We kept hitting him and he kept slowing it down," he said. "It wasn't until they brought in that (Ahmad) Bradshaw kid. He's the one who killed us."
Well, somebody had to tell Jacobs what Williams had to say, and he took it with a tight grin. "He didn't tell you that they used me to hit and hit and hit until they got Jell-o legs, and that's when Ahmad came in," he said. "Whatever he says, we came out of there with a win, on their field, and we went to the Super Bowl. I guess he can say whatever he wants to say."
The Giants remain the only undefeated team in the NFC and one of only two (Tennessee is the other) in the league. And in the tough-as-nails NFC East, every victory counts for something a little more, since the Giants have played only one of their division foes (Washington, a victory in the opening game).
"I don't think I can comment on anything else he (Williams) had to say," Jacobs said. "I think we'll just go out there Monday night and see what we can do. That's a good team, you know, despite their (1-3) record."