With last week's shutout loss to the Atlanta Falcons the New York Giants are now finally with their backs against the wall. No more room to stumble. They must win the next 2 weeks if they want a spot in the playoffs. Splitting the games requires too much mess to get themselves in. Maybe this is what Tom Coughlin and his boys need. Their 6-2 start to the year gave them this cushion they now are falling back on to make the playoffs. The Ravens are on a 3 game losing streak, needing to win to clinch AFC North. But they have already earned themselves a playoff berth. Like the Giants their injury list seems a mile long and they are coming off a tough loss to Denver. Here are this week's match-ups to watch:
Ravens RB Ray Rice vs. Giants MLB Chase Blackburn
There is no question in my mind that if the Giants want to beat the Ravens this weekend they must stop Ray Rice. If you look at the numbers, Joe Flacco can't beat quality teams without having a big game from Rice. The Giants had 18 missed tackles against the Falcons, hoping that number is cut in half this week. Blackburn is responsible for lining up the defense, so it's up to him to make sure he’s alerting his teammates so they can fill Rice’s rushing lanes. The Ravens are 3-2 when Rice is held under 50 yards this season.
Giants QB Eli Manning vs. Ravens S Ed Reed
Manning knows that he needs to know where Ed Reed is at all times, every snap. Even battling a shoulder injury, Reed is one of the top NFL defensive threats in the league. He's not the hitter he once was but he defiantely hasn't slowed down any, especially when it comes to covering deep in the field. Manning has 16 INT's for the year, needs to be careful in the red zone. That seems to be the Giants trouble spot this year. Ravens have the 2nd ranked red zone defense.
Giants DEs Jason Pierre-Paul/Tuck/Umenyiora vs. Ravens LT Michael Oher/RT Kelechi Osemele
The Giants say their Big Three have gotten adequate pressure but too often have been short of getting sacks. I look for that to change this week. Osi says the pass rush will pick up if they can eliminate early downs and force them into more 3rd and long situations. Flacco has been pressured into 3 fumbles and 3 INT's in the last 4 games.
My Prediction: 27-17 Giants