Giants vs. Ravens: Players Who Must Step Up for Baltimore to Clinch AFC North

Austin GreenCorrespondent IDecember 23, 2012

BALTIMORE, MD - DECEMBER 16:  Quarterback Joe Flacco #5 of the Baltimore Ravens throws a pass during the second half against the Denver Broncos at M&T Bank Stadium on December 16, 2012 in Baltimore, Maryland.  (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)
Rob Carr/Getty Images

The Baltimore Ravens are in the midst of a three-game losing streak, but they can still win the AFC North with a victory over the New York Giants today.

Despite looking like a Super Bowl contender after their 9-2 start, the Ravens have plummeted recently. After losing at home to the Steelers, they were beaten in overtime by the Washington Redskins. Last week, Peyton Manning and the Broncos marched into Baltimore and spanked the Ravens 34-17.

But as bad as they've been recently, John Harbaugh's crew can still secure home-field advantage in the first round of the playoffs. To do that, they'll need big performances from the following players today.


Anquan Boldin

Torrey Smith is still listed as questionable with a concussion, so the pressure will be on Boldin to thwart the Giants secondary.

Unfortunately, he didn't fare too well last week when Smith was knocked out. Boldin was completely shut down by the Broncos, catching zero passes on the day. Joe Flacco didn't throw him a single ball, as Boldin failed to get open all afternoon.

He should have a little more luck against the Giants, who are ranked 28th in pass defense. If he can't find ways to get open, though, the Ravens will be in for another long day.


Joe Flacco

Flacco has been awful during the Ravens' losing streak, throwing an interception in each game and completing just 54.7 percent of his passes.

Against the Broncos last week, he posted a QBR of 0.4, which basically means he was absolutely terrible. It was also his second game with a QBR of less than one this season.

Simply put, if Flacco doesn't play better, the Ravens have no chance of winning this game.


Haloti Ngata

The Ravens defense has been decimated by injuries, which puts even more pressure on big man Haloti Ngata.

Ngata is the best defensive tackle in the league, but he'll have to take his game to the next level, especially with Ray Lewis still sidelined. Ngata had just one tackle against Denver, but look for the mobile run-stopper to be more active today.

The Ravens will need Ngata to be in Eli Manning's face all day, while also shutting down New York's rushing game. If he isn't able to make a major impact, Baltimore will likely drop its fourth consecutive game.