BEREA - The NFL schedule-maker really hasn't done the Browns much of a favor, and he's about to pour a little salt on the wound.
At 0-4 the Browns and the New Orleans Saints are the only teams without a win entering the fifth week of the season. Unless the Browns have something in them similar to what happened Oct. 13 of 2008, they're looking at another loss today against the New York Giants at MetLife Stadium.
The Giants entered that game four years ago undefeated and as the defending Super Bowl champion. They're not undefeated this season (2-2), but they are the defending Super Bowl champion.
"They're an outstanding football team," Browns coach Pat Shurmur said. "I don't know if you would consider that balance. I remember there was a time when they didn't throw the ball as much as they do now, but that offense really runs through Eli (Manning). They've found a way to be really effective running the ball as well."
Manning has surfaced from the shadow of his older brother Peyton to become one of the elite quarterbacks in the league. His fourth-quarter magic helped give the Giants two Super Bowl wins in the last five seasons.
The challenge facing the Browns defense is far from easy, especially with cornerback Joe Haden serving the final game of a four-game suspension for violating the NFL's drug policy.
"They do a terrific job with him (Manning)," Browns defensive coordinator Dick Jauron said. "He's calm. You can rattle any quarterback, obviously, if you hit him enough. It's just not normal not to get a little bit affected by it, but he throws a nice ball in the face of pressure, standing there and delivering it, and delivering it accurately.
"Obviously, when you first come into the league, you're experiencing it all for the first time the speed of it, the size of the people and the toughness of it. It's just different. Once he grew through all that, he's just kept growing."
The Browns are growing offensively but it might be asking too much to stand tall in a shootout. What they must do is get rookie running back Trent Richardson untracked. He had a 109-yard effort against the Cincinnati Bengals in week two but has been held to less than 50 yards in each of the other three games.
"It all starts getting into rhythm," offensive coordinator Brad Childress said. "It probably starts with running the football and running it a little bit better, and then I think his catches will come in the pass game. He's obviously shown some explosion in the passing game, but I would say being able to run the football a little bit better."
Richardson has maintained a positive attitude through the growing pains.
"All those guys, whether it's receivers or running backs, they'd love the ball every single time," Childress said. "Unfortunately there's only one. The quarterback would love to throw it every time and the running back would like to carry it every time. I don't sense his frustration.
"Five yards a carry in this league would be pretty tall cotton. It would be pretty good. I think he understands that grinding some of those 2s and 3s and 4s is good work, and then you're going to get some of those 6s and 7s and 8s."
A more consistent running game would be welcomed by rookie quarterback Brandon Weeden. If the ground game is ineffective, the Giants' talented defensive front can tee off on him.
"We're talking about the defending Super Bowl champions," Weeden said. "They've got guys back there that can cover. You've got to be careful. You've got to pick your spots, but up front they're really good. They've got guys that can really rush the passer. If we have time, I like my guys in match-ups. We're going to take shots and do things we've kind of been doing all year."
If only they could get a win.