Baltimore and New York are both in desperate need of a win.
Sitting at 8-6 and in the running for an NFC East title or a wild-card spot, the New York Giants travel to Baltimore hoping to move a step closer to a playoff berth. The Ravens, losers of three straight, can clinch the AFC North Sunday with a win or a tie and a Cincinnati loss or tie.
Baltimore, in the midst of its worst losing streak in head coach John Harbaugh’s tenure, is coming off a 34-17 loss to Denver. With a playoff ticket already punched, Baltimore is looking to get back on track with the playoffs looming in just a few weeks.
Like Baltimore, New York is also coming off a blowout loss from a week ago. Last week, the Atlanta Falcons shut out the Giants, winning 34-0. If New York beats Baltimore Sunday, it could potentially clinch a playoff spot. In order for that to happen, Chicago, Minnesota, Dallas and Washington would all have to lose. Should the Giants lose to Baltimore, they would lose ground in both the chase for the NFC East and wild-card race.
As Sunday’s game is somewhat of a must-win for both teams, expect a playoff-type atmosphere in Baltimore with both squads bringing their “A” game.
Here is a bold prediction for each team during Sunday’s game.
Ray Lewis returns to the field and forces a turnover
After tearing his triceps in Week 6, the Ravens have been without their emotional leader on the field. Lewis, who has been practicing now for three weeks, has yet to be activated, but that could change as Jameel McClain was deactivated for the rest of the season, leaving a roster spot open. That spot has yet to be filled, which could mean Baltimore will activate Lewis before Sunday's game.
The Ravens are in desperate need of a spark to get them back on track for the playoffs, and Lewis may be the answer. Whether it be through his emotional speeches or ability to direct the defense, Lewis will make the Ravens better upon return.
While Lewis is just a shell of his former self, he has an uncanny ability to make others around him better. Say what you will about the Baltimore linebacker, but the ageless wonder is still capable of making a game-changing play.
This season New York averages 1.5 turnovers a game.
Hungry to go out a winner, expect Lewis to return this week as Baltimore is in desperate need of a win. He will not only return, but he will force a turnover during a critical moment of Sunday’s game, breathing new life into the Ravens.
Victor Cruz has over 100 yards receiving and a touchdown
Baltimore has allowed five players go over 100 yards receiving this season. Last week, Denver’s Eric Decker had 133, matching up mainly against Cary Williams. Williams again will match up against the opposing offense’s best receiver this week.
With Williams covering Cruz Sunday, Manning will look early and often for his top target. Cruz will beat Williams on sideline routes all afternoon—something the Baltimore corner has struggled to defend.