In a rematch of Super Bowl XXXV, the Baltimore Ravens (3-2) are headed to New Jersey to take on the struggling New York Giants (2-3).
After five games of lackluster offensive performances, Ravens’ head coach John Harbaugh showed offensive coordinator Marc Trestman the door, replacing Trestman with former quarterback coach Marty Mornhinweg. If the Ravens want to get back on track, their entire offense needs to have a better outing on Sunday.
The Giants have a vicious pass rushing unit lead by Jason Pierre-Paul, who has recorded 24 tackles, one sack, and one forced fumble this season. Pierre-Paul led the Giants in tackles last week against the Packers with seven.
Defensive end Oliver Vernon is primed to do damage to Baltimore as well if the offensive line fails to account for him. Vernon is playing against the run as good as anyone this season.
This means Ravens’ running back Terrance West, who has rushed for 208 yards and one touchdown in the past two games, will have his work cut out for him. West has rejuvenated the Ravens’ run game so far and will need to have another strong performance this week against New York.
Joe Flacco, on the other hand, needs to take more chances. Flacco hasn’t thrown any interceptions in the past two weeks, but big plays from him have been at the premium. The dropped passes aren’t helping, however, and made Flacco look pitiful last week.
Tight ends Dennis Pitta and Crockett Gillmore are both performing at a high level and have picked up the slack from the Ravens’ receiving corps. Pitta has caught 28 passes for 259 yards so far this season and Gillmore scored Baltimore’s lone touchdown last week against Washington.
As always, the Ravens’ defense will need to continue their reign of dominance. If Terrell Suggs and Timmy Jernigan can knock Giants’ quarterback Eli Manning out of his comfort zone, then New York’s offense will be sure to sputter. Manning has scored five touchdowns in the air this season, but he’s also thrown his share of interceptions (four).
If Baltimore’s secondary can capitalize on turnovers, New York won’t have a chance in this game.
Things could get testy between Ravens cornerback Jimmy Smith and Giants wide receiver Odell Beckham. So far, OBJ has underperformed this season, letting his emotions get the best of him.
Fellow receiver Victor Cruz went without a catch against Green Bay last week. However, Cruz and Beckham can still do damage to Baltimore’s secondary if the Ravens don’t take them seriously.
The Giants’ ground game, which ranks 27th in the NFL, doesn’t scare anyone and the Ravens’ run defense should gobble up running back Rashad Jennings.
Sometimes things have to get worse before they get better. Baltimore’s offense should improve under a new offensive coordinator, but there will be growing pains.
Just like Super Bowl XXXV, the Ravens will need strong performances from their defense and run game in order to come away with a win.
Prediction: Giants over Ravens 23-16