The Ravens come in on a three-game losing streak, with the most recent loss coming in decided fashion against Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos last week.
The Ravens’ defense was gashed yet again, while the offense sputtered for most of the game.
Joe Flacco had another mediocre performance, while Ray Rice was shockingly and severely under-utilized in new offensive coordinator Jim Caldwell’s first game calling plays.
The defense meanwhile allowed over 330 yards for the eleventh time in 14 games, as they were victimized through the air and on the ground.
Despite the poor overall performance, the Ravens still clinched a playoff spot with the Pittsburgh Steelers‘ loss. The Ravens can clinch the AFC North with a win, as they still hold the division tiebreaker even if they lose to the Cincinnati Bengals next week.
Besides clinching the division, the Ravens will also look to avoid their first four-game losing streak since 2007, when the likes of Kyle Boller and Steve McNair where quarterbacking the Ravens.
Speaking of 2007, the last time these teams met was Flacco’s rookie year in 2008 with the Giants winning comfortably.
The Giants meanwhile come off a beatdown, as they were shutout 34-0 last week by the Atlanta Falcons. The shutout loss came a week after dropping 52 points on the New Orleans Saints, so more consistency is needed if the Giants are to make the playoffs.
The Giants still control their own destiny to an extent, as they will get a wildcard spot at the least if they win their remaining two games. They will need help if they are to win the NFC East, but as the Giants know, you only have to get in the playoffs to have a chance.
Eli Manning comes into the game with a lower passer rating on the season than Flacco, as both quarterbacks’ play this season can be summed up as extremely inconsistent.
Further disappointing for both teams is that each team’s defense ranks in the bottom seven in the league. Considering the success both teams’ defenses have had over recent seasons, this season’s struggles are even more magnified.
Both teams are also struggling in the rushing department. The Ravens own an ultra-disappointing rushing attack with the 22nd-ranked run offense, so that is another area of concern, especially for the Ravens.
An area where both teams have been solid in is the turnover differential. Both teams rank in the top five in the NFL in that category, as the Giants are a plus-13 and the Ravens are a plus-10. Despite inconsistent play from their quarterbacks and spotty defense, both teams have stayed afloat by limiting turnovers while being opportunistic on defense.
The Giants defense may be having a down year for sacks by their vaunted front four on defense, but their offense has done a stellar job in that department.
The Giants lead the NFL in sacks allowed, as Manning has only been sacked 16 times. Eli has shown over the years that if he gets time to throw he can be lethal.
Also helping the Giants’ offensive cause will be the return of running back Ahmad Bradshaw after he missed last week’s game with a knee injury. The duo of Bradshaw and David Wilson may be too much to handle for the Ravens’ 26th-ranked run defense.
With the Ravens already in the playoffs and the Giants desperately needing a win, expect a big bounce back effort from the defending champs.
The Ravens’ defense has been gouged countless times this season, so it seems Eli and the offense can get back on track this Sunday and keep their playoff hopes alive.
Look for the Giants to continue to control their own destiny, as they will pull out a 27-20 victory.