It’s no secret around town that the Baltimore Ravens have been reeling down the stretch run of the season. At one point, this team was 9-2, coming off of two nail-biting wins in Pittsburgh and San Diego and had all of the momentum in the world to make a serious run for one of the top two seeds in the AFC.
Currently, the team is riding an unthinkable three-game losing streak that contains losses to two backup quarterbacks — Charlie Batch, of Pittsburgh, and Kirk Cousins, of Washington — but also a shellacking at home to the Denver Broncos last week in the friendly… or not so friendly confines of M&T Bank stadium.
They still control their own destiny and have already clinched a playoff berth, but still need that one win in order to lock up the AFC North and that all-too-important home playoff game. We know what the Ravens are on the road. Losing out is unacceptable at this juncture of the season and for this organization period.
As it seems now, this team is beaten and battered and backing into the playoffs with no momentum and somewhat disarray in the organization. No member of the team or organization will admit it, but any time a team goes through a tough stretch like this, there are usually few sour apples in the bunch.
The effort of the entire team last week.
The one player that never seemed like he would quit on the team did and has a few times this season. Who am I talking about?
No. 81, Anquan Boldin.
Boldin hasn’t been able to hold his frustration inside and it is showing in his play and the stupid mistakes he has made on the field. Head coach John Harbaugh has been forced to take Boldin out of the lineup to settle him down and prevent him from potentially facing fines or suspension for stupidity.
Another player that has displayed a lack of effort: No. 74, Michael Oher.
Oher, while miraculously leading the Pro Bowl voting at his respective position, nearly had Joe Flacco murdered on the final two plays of the game with his soft serve blocking effort against the Denver pass rush. That can NOT happen this week as the Ravens face a Giants team that has one of the most imposing defensive lines in the league.
The Giants have been the “Ravens of the NFC” so to speak. They are coming off of a 34-0 shutout loss to the Atlanta Falcons. Like the Ravens, they have been fairly inconsistent on both sides of the ball, as was displayed in their Week 15 beating handed to them by the 12-2 Falcons. They don’t get really creative in the blitz game because their front four of Tuck (questionable/ shoulder), Canty (probable/ neck), Umenyiora and Pierre-Paul are excellent at defeating their man in one-on-one battles. While they haven’t been the championship defense they were last season, they will no doubt be the toughest test the Ravens will have faced all year in trying to keep quarterback Joe Flacco upright.
The Giants also possess a decent secondary that includes Stevie Brown, who has seven interceptions. He is currently tied for second in the league in that category behind the Bears’ Tim Jennings. Prince Amukamara has also come on stronger for the Giants this year in the back end and they will be looking to prove themselves after giving up 34 unanswered points last week against the Falcons.
The defense wasn’t totally to blame for that embarrassment last week. Eli Manning threw two early interceptions that basically buried the Giants early on. Being shut out is one thing, but putting out the dismal performance they did, with the weapons they have on offense in Nicks, Cruz, Bennett, Bradshaw and Wilson, is unacceptable.
What is scary is this is somewhat similar to the situation the Ravens had coming to them when they traveled to Houston and received one of the most gruesome losses in franchise history, as they fell to the Texans 43-13.
The Giants are reeling and need to win out and have some help in order to make the playoffs. The Ravens need one win and the AFC North is theirs. These teams have been going in the wrong direction and something has to give. Both teams will be fighting hard on Sunday and expect nothing short of a good, hard-hitting football game.
(Editor’s Note): I will be making my prediction for the game tomorrow during this week’s edition of WNST’s Weekend Warriors from 9 a.m. -12 p.m. I will also be doing a pregame blog, digging deeper into what exactly will happen in the game and why I think either the Giants or Ravens will come on top.
Listen in to the show tomorrow HERE: http://radio.securenetsystems.net/v4/index.cfm?stationCallSign=WNST
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