1. The offensive line of the Ravens will struggle to keep quarterback Joe Flacco upright against the highly regarded Giants front four.
We all know what happened to Joe Flacco last weekend when the Ravens faced the front seven of the Denver Broncos. 18 times he was hurried, taken to the ground or sacked. That being said, he needs to say his prayers this week. While the Giants defense hasn’t been a championship defense — 28th against the pass and 23rd against the run — they still have one of the scariest front four’s in football. Justin Tuck, if he is able to go, Osi Umenyiora, Chris Canty and Jason Pierre-Paul are scary good and have the ability to handle lineman in one-on-one match-ups better than any defensive front in the league. They have the versatility to be both speed and power rushers and speed-to-power rushers. While Jason Pierre-Paul is only leading the team with 6.5 sacks, and the Giants have a total sack number of 32.0 on the season, don’t underestimate the ability of this group. With the current offensive line the Ravens are throwing out there every Sunday, thoughts and prayers are with Joe Flacco.
2. Ravens tight end Dennis Pitta will continue to perform at a high level against linebackers and safeties of the Giants.
Dennis Pitta had a career day last week against the Broncos. However, he could’ve had an even better game if he had finished some plays off and caught the football. That being said, Pitta will once again be an X-factor in this offense that faces the likes of a Chase Blackburn in the Giants linebacker unit. Look for the Ravens to once again continue to get Pitta on his trademark out-routes and seam patterns that worked in the Ravens favor last week against Denver. The one concern the Ravens must have when look toward Pitta? Stevie Brown of the Giants is tied for second in the NFL in interceptions with seven.
3. Victor Cruz and Hakeem Nicks are a match-up nightmare for the Ravens secondary as both of them go for at least 75 yards receiving and two touchdowns between them.
Cary Williams, Corey Graham and the rest of this cast of characters in the secondary are certainly going to have their hands full today. Yes, the Giants are coming off of quite a stinker in Atlanta, as they couldn’t muster a point against the top team in the NFL. However, this unit cannot be taken lightly. Two weeks ago, this same offense threw up 52, albeit on the lowly Saints. Cruz and Nicks provide quite the challenge for the defensive secondary this week. Cruz relies more on running good crisp routes and using his speed and shiftiness to keep corners and safeties off his body to gain separation. Hakeem Nicks is more of a possession receiver that is similar to Anquan Boldin in that he will go over the middle to make the tough grab underneath, take a hit, and sprint to the end zone for a touchdown. He hasn’t had quite the season that was expected of him as he has battled injuries this season, but Nicks has the ability to be a game-changer just as much as Cruz.
4. David Wilson and Ahmad Bradshaw will not be factors in this game as Eli Manning will throw 50 times against this Ravens secondary that once again lacks Bernard Pollard.
The Giants running game has been an anomaly this season and has been filled with red crosses up and down the depth chart. First, Bradshaw went down and in comes Andre Brown. Brown was effective in his first start against Carolina and then took a chunk of the red zone carries away from Bradshaw when he was healthy. Brown is now on injured reserve. David Wilson was in Tom Coughlin’s “doghouse” for a large chunk of the season for his recurring fumbling problems that began Week 1 against the Dallas Cowboys. Wilson had a career day against the Saints two weeks ago and seems to have earned a more serviceable and important role in this offense. Bradshaw is questionable for today’s game, but even if he plays neither of these guys will have a huge impact on the game. The Ravens aren’t great at stopping the run, but the Giants aren’t great at running either — 15th in the league. Eli Manning will be picking and choosing his spots plenty of times today as he probably received some friendly tips from his brother Peyton in regards to how the secondary will probably play his receivers.
5. These two teams desperately need a win. However, the Giants want this game a little bit more as they MUST win out and have a little help in order to clinch a playoff berth. Giants win over the Ravens 27-21.
Both of these teams have been inconsistent this season, but the Ravens are on a really bad skid. The emotional list they were hoping to get from a potential Ray Lewis return is gone. While the Ravens will be getting some key players back in certain spots, the Giants will provide too tough a test as they are looking to prove themselves as a playoff team today. The Ravens have already clinched a playoff berth and while they are still looking for that elusive win to capture the AFC North title and a home playoff game, it still remains to be seen what will come of Joe Flacco and the new regime of Jim Caldwell calling the plays as offensive coordinator. This game will be tight until the end.
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