New York Giants fans are understandably discouraged after Big Blue suffered miserable losses to the Arizona Cardinals and Cleveland Browns the last two weeks. And yet, with only two games left on New York’s schedule, there is still reason for optimism, if not downright Christmas cheer.
Big Blue still sits just one game back of first place in the NFC East, while holding the tiebreaker over the division-leading Washington Football Team. As long as Washington loses one of their final two games, the G-Men can win out and earn their first playoff berth since the 2016 season. Washington will play two sub-.500 teams in Weeks 16 and 17, but they’re not exactly a great team themselves. One more Washington loss doesn’t require the biggest stretch of imagination. Much more improbable, however, is New York winning back-to-back games after how dismal they’ve looked recently.
The Giants have scored 13 points over their last two games, and on Sunday they’ll be playing a Baltimore Ravens team that has scored a combined 121 over its last three games. Baltimore also has the ninth-ranked defense by yards allowed per game, and have held their opponent to under 20 points in three of their last four games. The Ravens should be plenty motivated, too, as they currently sit just outside the AFC playoff picture. They need a win to get back into a Wild Card position before Week 17. No matter which way you slice it, the Giants’ outlook for their Week 16 matchup in Baltimore is pretty inauspicious.
Latest Giants News
This Ravens game isn’t an unequivocal must-win for New York. Even if the Giants lose on Sunday, they can still be alive for the division title. If Washington loses to the Carolina Panthers and the Philadelphia Eagles lose to the Dallas Cowboys, New York can win the NFC East in Week 17 with a victory over Dallas and a Washington loss to Philadelphia. Obviously, the Giants would be best to avoid relying on this series of events going their way. A win in Baltimore on Sunday would go a long way towards helping their own cause.
On a more positive front, quarterback Daniel Jones practiced Thursday and appeared to be moving around better than he has in a few weeks, according to multiple reports. Jones sat out two of the last three games with hamstring and ankle injuries, but looks to be on track to start on Sunday. Receiver Golden Tate‘s status is in serious jeopardy, however, as he missed Thurday’s practice with a calf injury.
Here’s an overview of everything you need to know ahead of Sunday’s game, followed by a prediction for the final score.
Where and When
M&T Bank Stadium in Baltimore, Maryland on Sunday at 1:00 p.m. EST/10:00 a.m. PST
New York: QB Daniel Jones (Questionable), WR Golden Tate (Questionable), CB Darnay Holmes (Questionable)
Baltimore: WR Dez Bryant (Questionable), WR Marquise Brown (Questionable), S Anthony Levine Sr. (Questionable), CB Jimmy Smith (Questionable), CB Marcus Peters (Questionable), DE Calais Campbell (Questionable), OG Tyre Phillips (Questionable)
Most Concerning Matchup: EDGE Yannick Ngakoue vs. OT Andrew Thomas
Assuming Jones plays, his mobility will likely be limited. If he resembles anything close to the helpless statue he was against the Arizona Cardinals two weeks ago, pass protection will be at a premium. Baltimore acquired Ngakoue from the Minnesota Vikings at the trade deadline, and he immediately became their top edge rusher. His production has been slow to come for the Ravens, but he broke out with a two-sack performance last week against the Jacksonville Jaguars. He’s a quick, slippery rusher who’ll be a good test for the rookie Thomas protecting Jones’ blind side.
Thomas has had a strong second half of the season after struggling for much of the first half. His only recent poor performance came in that aforementioned Cardinals game, which saw Giants quarterbacks get sacked eight times. With the Ravens penchant for blitzing, Thomas will likely get plenty of one-on-one blocking reps against Ngakoue without help. New York can’t afford for him have another down game after playing so well against Myles Garrett and the Cleveland Browns last week.
Most Promising Matchup: DL Dexter Lawrence vs. OG Ben Powers
The Ravens have started Powers at right guard for the last five games after moving Patrick Mekari to center. The 2019 fourth-round pick out of Oklahoma has hardly been impressive. Powers has earned a 58.1 overall grade from Pro Football Focus, and his heavy-footedness hinders him in pass blocking.
Lawrence is coming off a tremendous game against the Cleveland Browns. He’ll have a great opportunity to maintain that level of play against the inexperienced Powers. New York’s attrition at outside linebacker means they won’t be able to produce much of an edge rush. The Giants will have to make sure they stop the run early and push the pocket from the interior on passing downs to make quarterback Lamar Jackson uncomfortable. Lawrence is in prime position to lead the way in both regards.
Keys to Victory
For the Giants to win, Jones must play. And he has to look more like the player we saw just prior to his hamstring injury than the one we saw limping around against Arizona. Beyond that, New York needs to run the ball effectively and consistently throughout the game. The Ravens’ defense is built through their secondary, so Big Blue would be wise to avoid playing to that strength.
On defense, the Giants need to stay disciplined to stop the Ravens exotic and multi-faceted rushing attack. They should prioritize taking away the middle of the field in pass coverage to force Jackson to throw accurate passes towards the sidelines.
Final Score Prediction: Ravens 27 – Giants 17
The Giants have only allowed their opponent to score over 30 points twice this season, and not once since Week 5. Even if they keep that trend going against this Ravens offense, their own offense has shown no evidence it can score enough to win even a moderately high-scoring game. Both these teams will be very motivated, so ultimately the greater talent of Baltimore will win out in the end.