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Saturday, October 6, 2012
Next Level Preview: Week 5

By Kim Meyer, Michael Bonzagni and Evan Kaplan | ESPN Stats & Info

The Giants will look to get back in the win column this Sunday when they face the Cleveland Browns at MetLife Stadium. New York is coming off a 19-17 loss to in Philadelphia, where Lawrence Tynes' last-second field goal fell just short of putting the Giants atop the NFC East.

Running the ball was an issue for the Giants in Week 4, as they rushed for just 57 yards, tied for their third-fewest in a game since the start of the 2009 season.

The Browns are 0-4 to start the 2012 season and rookie quarterback Brandon Weeden has struggled, throwing three touchdowns and seven interceptions, the second-most in the league. Here are some areas to keep an eye on in Week 5:

• The Giants' run game was quieted by the Eagles in Week 4, as they rushed for 3.0 yards per carry, their fewest in four games this season. Rushing outside the tackles is an area where the Giants have particularly struggled in 2012, as their 63 yards ranks in the bottom third of the league through the first four weeks. In its two losses, New York has averaged just 1.5 yards per carry outside the tackles, compared to 4.5 yards on those rushes in its two wins. The Giants will be facing a Browns defense in Week 5 that has been stout against rushes outside the tackles, allowing 2.9 yards per carry, which ranks seventh lowest in the league entering Week 5.

Eli Manning continues to create big plays this season, excelling on throws of more than 10 yards downfield. Manning threw for 151 yards on such throws against the Eagles and had four pass plays of at least 30 yards in Week 4. Through the first four weeks of the season, Manning has nine pass plays of at least 30 yards, tied with Joe Flacco for the most in the NFL. While Manning has thrived on throws of more than 10 yards, Weeden has underperformed on those throws. Weeden has an NFL-worst 13.3 Total QBR on such throws and is completing just 34.6 percent of his passes on those throws, also worst in the league among qualified quarterbacks.

• Though Weeden has struggled on throws of more than 10 yards, he'll be facing a Giants' secondary that has allowed plenty of big plays in 2012. The Giants have allowed 629 passing yards and five touchdowns on throws more than 10 yards downfield, tied for the second-most touchdowns allowed in the league. Partly due to their injury-depleted secondary, the Giants have allowed at least one pass play of 30 or more yards in each of their four games, and are one of eight teams in the league to allow at least seven plays of 30 or more yards.

• One of the Giants' biggest strengths last year was their ability to get to the quarterback with four or fewer pass rushers. The Giants recorded the second-most sacks (34) at the second-highest rate (once every 13.6 dropbacks) when sending four or fewer in 2011. They have not replicated that production this year, recording only three sacks (T-25th) when rushing four or fewer defenders, an average of once every 30 dropbacks (26th). The Giants' three sacks when sending four or fewer pass rushers are tied for their fewest in the first four weeks of the season since the start of the 2008 season.

Fortunately for New York, Weeden has struggled against that type of pressure, posting a league-worst 12.4 Total QBR and averaging 6.2 yards per attempt when facing four or fewer pass rushers, the fourth-lowest rate in the league.