The New York Giants and Baltimore Ravens both have their backs against the wall entering a Week 16 matchup between two teams that still (barely) control their own destiny. Earlier in the season, this would have been a potential Super Bowl preview, but now there's a chance the losing team doesn't even make the playoffs.
Here's our final preview of Sunday's game, along with a prediction.
What New York must do to win, offensive edition: Maintain balance while also using lots of three-receiver sets and taking some shots against a shorthanded defense.
What New York must do to win, defensive edition: Blitz. I know that's not the Giants' thing, but they aren't getting enough natural pressure, so they have to send extra men at Joe Flacco more often than usual.
How New York can lose: By forcing things on offense or by failing to get pressure on Flacco.
Five most important non-quarterbacks: Ahmad Bradshaw, Victor Cruz, Jason Pierre-Paul, Mathias Kiwanuka, Prince Amukamara
Bradshaw and Amukamara are both coming off injuries, but both are crucial. Bradshaw can exploit Baltimore's defense while not being the liability that David Wilson is, and Amukamara will be needed to help Corey Webster against a group of fast receivers. Cruz and Pierre-Paul are always keys on their respective sides of the ball, while Kiwanuka will have to lead that blitz.
Injury analysis, Giants edition
Questionable: David Baas (hip, shoulder), Travis Beckum (knee), Ahmad Bradshaw (knee, foot), Kenny Phillips (knee), Tyler Sash (hamstring), Chris Snee (hip), Justin Tuck (shoulder)
Probable: Prince Amukamara (hamstring), Chris Canty (neck), Hakeem Nicks (knee), Rueben Randle (back)
They really need Bradshaw, who's a better all-around back than rookie David Wilson. Getting Amukamara back could be huge, though, because Baltimore takes a lot of deep shots.
Injury analysis, Ravens edition
Out: Jameel McClain (neck)
Doubtful: Bernard Pollard (chest)
Questionable: Tandon Doss (ankle), Dannell Ellerbe (ankle), Vonta Leach (ankle), Albert McClellan (thigh, shoulder), Bernard Pierce (head), Torrey Smith (head), Marshal Yanda (ankle)
Probable: Ed Dickson (knee), James Ihedigbo (neck), Arthur Jones (shoulder), Pernell McPhee (thigh), Ed Reed (shoulder), Jimmy Smith (abdomen), Terrell Suggs (biceps), Deonte Thompson (thigh), LaQuan Williams (thigh)
Ray Lewis and Terrell Suggs are both mysteries, and the rest of the defense is a bit of a mess. That's a big reason why Baltimore has lost three straight games. Bradshaw or Wilson could have a big day with Lewis' status up in the air, Suggs hurting and Pollard likely out. The Giants can chip away at this D all day.
B/R NFC East Blog prediction: New York is sliding quickly, but so is Baltimore. Under those circumstances, I'll take Tom Coughlin. I know this is a tough road game, but the Giants are more desperate.
Giants 24, Ravens 21
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