By Michael Stewart/@golferbad
Introduction: The New York Giants are 5-9 and find themselves in a must win situation heading into their final two games of the season. This week they travel to Baltimore to play the Ravens who at 9-5 are fighting for a wild card spot as well. The Giants trail Washington by a game and can only hope that at the very least split their last two games and finish at 7-9; which would put them both at 7-9 and the Giants winning the NFC east crown based on head to head competition. The Giants are expecting Quarterback Daniel Jones to return and offensively that would be a shot in the arm as last week the Giants only scored six points against an average Cleveland defense. This week they face a more potent defense in Baltimore and will be asked to score enough points to give them a chance to win. Here are my top 5 ways the Giants can get a win to keep their playoff hopes alive:
- Hog Mollies back to the Rescue: This is where it all starts for the Giants if they have any hope of winning this game. During their four game winning streak the offensive line was dominating the running game; averaging 163.5 yards per game, however; over their last two losses to Arizona and Cleveland they stumbled and have only averaged 78 yards on the ground. In order for the Giants have any chance in this game is to control the line of scrimmage; which means running ball at a high success rate as they have a 5-2 record when they rush for over 110 yards. On the flip side, the Giants offensive line must give Jones ample time in the pocket and keep the Ravens aggressive defense on their heels with a balance attack.
- Time of Possession: It’s no secret if you control the line of scrimmage, you control the clock. The Giants overall have struggled in this department for the most part with an overall 29:54. The Ravens are averaging 28.8 points per game, so it’s imperative that the Giants keep the ball out of Quarterback Lamar Jackson’s hands as much as possible. With their playoffs hinging on these final two games, this could be a lot to ask from the Giants as they have yet to consistently win the time of possession battle this year.
- Defense needs to step up again: The Giants defense played a solid game against Cleveland holding them to only 20 points as they scored a total of 83 points over their previous two games. Against Cleveland, the yielded too much yardage through the air against Baker Mayfield and shutdown the Browns potent running attack. Against Baltimore, the Giants must neutralize the explosive running ability and playmaking skills of Lamar Jackson as he can make a big play on any given play with his legs as Baltimore is averaging 173.9 yards on the ground. Look for DC Patrick Graham to employ more of a five man secondary scheme with three safeties on the field with one being Jackson’s shadow (spy).
- Red Zone & 3rd down conversions: The Giants have been beaten in these two categories for the most during the season and if there’s a time that they need to reverse this; it’s now. Sustaining drives and capitalizing on your scoring chances is a major key to winning. Bottom line here is that the Giants must win these two categories to sustain drives; which will do two things for them; it will keep the Ravens offense off the field and it will put more points on the ball.
- Give and Take: The Giants were slowly climbing up the takeaway/turnover chart until their game against the Cardinals and now sit at 0. The Ravens are sitting at -3 on the year and for the Giants, this is a stat they absolutely must win if they have any chance in beating the Ravens. To accomplish this, the Giants offense must play mistake free football, so Jones can’t fumble and/or throw an ill-advised pass that’s leads to an interception. The Giants running back tandem of Gallman and Morris must secure the ball as the Raven defensive players have a knack of stripping the ball; especially on gang tackles. Defensively; the Giants must be opportunistic and that starts with their front 7 who need to force Baltimore into long 2nd and 3rd downs and make Jackson’s arm beat you and not his legs and the Ravens running game. This could force Jackson to make passes he’s not equipped to make and possibly give the Giants opportunities for a couple of interceptions.
Final Thoughts: It’s crunch time for the Giants as I mentioned earlier are a must win if they have any chance of making the playoffs. I expect to see a very physical game as both defenses are ranked in the upper tier in the NFL and both teams have players on the defensive side of the ball that are very physical. For the Giants, I expect their usual players like Williams, Martinez, Ryan, Peppers and Bradberry to continue to perform well for them defensively, but in this game the Giants need the other players on defense to step up and play arguably the best game of the season. Offensively; the Giants must have a balanced attack and stretch the field on the Ravens to open up mid range passing lanes to benefit their TE Engram and Smith and also get their running backs involved in the passing game. If the Giants don’t bring their “A” game it’s going to be tough for them to walk out of Baltimore with a win.
Final Score: Ravens-24/Giants-13