Ravens-Giants: Predictions Round Table

Luke JonesCorrespondent INovember 15, 2008

Members of the Bleacher Report Baltimore Ravens Community break down Sunday's battle between the Baltimore Ravens and the New York Giants.

Sean O'Brien:  This game is a hard one for me to call, as the Ravens are my favorite AFC team and the Giants are my favorite in the NFC. We've got the defending Super Bowl Champs versus one of the biggest surprises of the year.

The reason I love both these teams is because I'm a huge fan of defensive football (by the way, Tennessee, love the work you guys are doing this year). Matching up the defenses, we see a lot of similarities. Both are strong against the run and both seem to be having a tough time stopping the pass.

The Giants have, without a doubt, the best trio of running backs in the NFL right now. Even against tough, run-stuffing defenses, these backs have gained solid yards. The New York offensive line continues opening up gaping holes for Jacobs, Ward and Bradshaw and their performance should make or break this game.

While I would give the offensive line advantage to the G-Men, I would give the defensive line advantage to the Ravens (if only by a little). The Ravens know how to close up the gaps and make the tackle at least as well, if not better, then any other 'D' in the game right now.

The Ravens' offense is just now starting to click and get into a rhythm; the Giants have been clicking since the Super Bowl. Joe Flacco has led his team to game-winning drives during a few games, but Manning has practically made a career out of playing like a beast in the fourth quarter.

If the Giants get too much pressure on Flacco, he may just break and make some bad decisions. If he does, the New York defense will take advantage of them without hesitation. The Ravens have been performing well this year, but they haven't faced a team quite as balanced as the Giants.

The prediction: Giants 20-14


Chad Lamasa:  This is the first real test we've had.

The Giants' defense is ranked third behind only Pittsburgh and the Ravens. They lead the league in sacks, despite the loss of Michael Strahan and Osi Umenyiora. Justin Tuck has become a monster in Umenyiora's place.

Our offensive line needs to stop the blitzes and give Flacco time to make good throws. If he's hurried too much or sacked a bunch of times, he may regress a bit.

We need to be able to sustain drives like we've done in the last four games. If we can keep the Giants' defense on the field, they will get tired and that will give us an advantage later in the game. Plus, that will keep their offense off the field. If they aren't on the field, they can't score.

Also, we need to establish the run quickly so that our passing game will open up. With the three-headed monster we have now, we should be able to do that.

I really hope we don't use more than one or two trick plays.  The Giants will not fall for them.

On the defensive side, we don't really have good match-ups for Plaxico Burress. That worries me a bit. What we need to do is shut down their running game, which will be difficult since Brandon Jacobs is a good runner. Plus, we need to get into Eli Manning's face and rattle him, causing mistakes on his part that may lead to a pick-six or two.

If our defense can play the way they have all season, we should be okay. I think we can pull out a win if we do all this and stop the ridiculous penalties.

The prediction:  24-21 Ravens


Isaac Barrow:  This will by far be the toughest game of the season. The Ravens are 6-3, but it's hard to know whether they are for real, as they beat the Dolphins, Raiders, Browns and Texans consecutively. However, they did almost beat 6-3 Pittsburgh and 9-0 Tennessee.

The Giants are 8-1, and have also won four straight and against some good teams: San Francisco, Pittsburgh, Dallas and Philadelphia. The Ravens and Giants are pretty much identical defensively. This game will be a huge test for our offensive line. The Giants have 34 sacks, second in the NFL, while the Ravens have just 19. The Ravens are second in interceptions with 14 and the Giants are third with 12. The Ravens are leading in Rush YPG allowed at 65.4 and the Giants allow 87.4.

In this game, something will have to give. Let's hope it's the New York Giants. The Ravens have a three-headed monster in the backfield with Willis McGahee, Ray Rice and Le'Ron McClain. The Giants are seventh in the NFL in defensive rushing. The offense is going to be huge in this game.

It will really test Flacco's candidacy for Rookie of the Year. Even if the Ravens lose, if Flacco does well in New York against one of the best defenses, he'll improve his stock. To win, I believe the Ravens will have to stop Jacobs and neutralize the passing game. I think the Ravens can win this game with defense, but it will be a tough one. Overall, I have to go with the Giants

The prediction: Giants 27-14


Luke Jones:  The Ravens have proven they are a good football team, entering Week 11 on a four-game winning streak including three straight on the road.  Sunday's game gives Baltimore the opportunity to show they deserve to be mentioned in the NFL's elite. 

Traveling to Giants Stadium to take on the Super Bowl champions will be a daunting task.  Flacco will be pressured by the best front four in the NFL.  The Giants' defense is so effective, because they do not have to blitz to pressure the quarterback, allowing the linebackers to drop into pass coverage.  Look for the Ravens to use Rice on draws and short passes out of the backfield to keep the linebackers close to the line of scrimmage.

This will be a classic case of each team trying to impose its will on the other as both pride themselves in running the ball and stopping the run.  New York's top-ranked running game will be tested against the best run defense in the league.  Jacobs brings a freakish combination of size (264 pounds) and speed, but the Baltimore defense never backs down from a challenge.  Linebackers Ray Lewis and Bart Scott will have to keep an eye on Derrick Ward, a receiving threat out of the backfield.

This game will be decided by the quarterbacks where the Giants have the edge.  The Ravens will contain the Giants' running game, but the secondary will have difficulty stopping Manning and the Giants' passing game.  Burress presents a matchup problem, as cornerbacks Fabian Washington and Samari Rolle lack the height to defend the jumpball.  The Ravens must find a way to pressure Manning, or he will gradually pick apart the secondary.

Flacco will have a difficult time finding open receivers while being pressured by Tuck and Mathias Kiwanuka.  Having wide receiver Derrick Mason (dislocated shoulder) on the field would be a major boost, but he will be a game-time decision.  Tight end Todd Heap will need to be involved in the passing game as he was last week against Houston.  If the offensive line can give Flacco enough time, the Ravens will test the New York secondary with the deep ball. 

Flacco has exceeded nearly everyone's expectations in his rookie season, and he will have to do it again for the Ravens to pull off the upset.  The Ravens will bring a courageous effort, proving they belong in the playoff hunt, but will come up short at The Meadowlands.

The prediction:  Giants 20-17

The Baltimore Ravens Community would like to hear your predictions for Sunday's game.  Can Flacco and the Ravens pull off the upset?  Leave your comments below.


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