BALTIMORE — The Ravens hope to bring an early Christmas present to Baltimore this year by way of their second straight AFC North championship with a win over the New York Giants on Sunday afternoon.
Of course, they’ve faced scenarios in each of the last three weeks in which they could have locked up a division title, but they’ve been unable to do it as they’ve lost three in a row and now face the prospects of likely needing to win one of their final two games to clinch. Otherwise, their once-excellent position with a 9-2 record could morph into settling for a wild card and a road playoff game in the first round of the playoffs.
Meanwhile, the 8-6 Giants need to win each of their last two games to give themselves an opportunity to defend their Super Bowl title in the postseason. New York has lost four of its last six and is a week removed from a 34-0 defeat in Atlanta, the first shutout suffered by the Giants since 1996.
After practicing on a limited basis on Thursday and Friday, right guard Marshal Yanda is active and will return to action after missing last week’s game against the Broncos. The Ravens must feel confident in his ability to hold up with the ankle as Bobbie Williams and Ramon Harewood are both inactive against the Giants.
Though we learned Saturday that linebacker Ray Lewis is not expected to return before the start of the playoffs, the Ravens will welcome the return of inside linebacker Dannell Ellerbe after a three-game absence due to an ankle injury. However, linebacker Albert McClellan is listed as inactive after dealing with a hamstring injury he suffered against Denver.
Wide receiver Torrey Smith and running back Bernard Pierce are both active and obviously passed their baseline neurological tests to clear them for contact. There’s no reason to expect either player to be limited after sustaining concussions in Week 15.
As expected, strong safety Bernard Pollard will miss his second straight game as he continues to deal with a rib injury that was aggravated in the Ravens’ loss to Washington in Week 14.
Rookie outside linebacker Adrian Hamilton is active a day after being promoted to the 53-man roster to take injured linebacker Jameel McClain’s spot.
The Giants will be without standout defensive end Justin Tuck, who is inactive with a shoulder injury. Starting running back Ahmad Bradshaw is active and will play, however.
The referee for Sunday’s game will be Carl Cheffers.
Baltimore leads the regular-season series, 2-1, and won the only postseason meeting between the teams, a 34-7 final in Super Bowl XXXV on Jan. 28, 2001.
The Ravens will wear their black jerseys and black pants while the Giants wear their white tops with gray pants.
Here are Sunday’s inactives …
WR Tandon Doss
S Bernard Pollard
LB Albert McClellan
G Bobbie Williams
OL Ramon Harewood
WR Deonte Thompson
DL Bryan Hall
DE Justin Tuck
WR Ramses Barden
S Kenny Phillips
S Tyler Sash
DE Adewale Ojomo
TE Travis Beckum
TE Adrien Robinson
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