The Baltimore Ravens haven't exactly morphed into the New York Jets over the past three weeks, but entering Sunday's game at M&T Bank Stadium they are struggling even more than the New York Giants have recently.
The Ravens (9-5) have already clinched an AFC playoff berth, but that is no thanks to how they have played recently. Baltimore has lost three straight games, falling to the Pittsburgh Steelers, Washington Redskins and Denver Broncos. All of those are good teams, but things are not good in Baltimore right now.
Unhappy with their offense, the team recently fired offensive coordinator Cam Cameron and replaced him with Jim Caldwell.
"We’re a 9-5 football team, and it feels like we’re 0-14 right now," said quarterback Joe Flacco. Folks at SB Nation's Ravens' web site, Baltimore Beatdown, are even questioning whether the team has begun to tune out head coach John Harbaugh.
Let's take a statistical look at the Ravens.
Overall rank: 339.6 yards per game (21st)
Points: 24.9 (12th)
Rushing: 105.1 (22nd)
Passing: 234.6 (14th)
Running back Ray Rice remains Baltimore's best offensive player, and his 1,031 yards rushing (4.5 yards per carry) make this four straight seasons he has surpassed 1,000 yards. The Giants have been gashed numerous times this season by running backs and are 22nd in the league against the run, surrendering 123.7 yards per game (4.6 per carry). Inability to stop the run has impacted the Giants' ability to unleash their pass rush as they have been unable to consistently put teams in long-yardage situations.
For the Ravens, the passing attack is all about quarterback Joe Flacco. He is completing 59.1 percent of his passes this season with 20 touchdown passes and 10 interceptions. His passer rating is 86.2.
Anquan Boldin leads Baltimore with 58 receptions, and tight end Dennis Pitta has 57. Rice has 55. The Ravens' big-play threat is speedster Torrey Smith, who has 44 catches and averages 17.4 yards per reception with seven touchdowns. The Giants have surrendered 64 pass plays this season of 20 yards or more, and only three teams have given up more big plays.
Overall rank: 374.3 yards per game (26th)
Points: 21.9 (13th)
Passing yards: 242.1 (22nd)
Rushing yards:132.2 (26th)
This is not the same, dominant Ravens' defense that Giants' fans remember from past years. This is an older, injured unit that is 26th in the league in yardage allowed. Baltimore, incidentally, allows roughly three yards less than the Giants (374.3-377.4).
Middle linebacker Ray Lewis has missed much of the season with a triceps injury and is on the short-term injured reserve list. There is a chance he will be activated before Sunday's game. Linebacker Terrell Suggs is trying to play through a torn triceps. Outside linebacker Paul Kruger leads the Ravens with eight sacks. Bernard Pollard, the strong safety, has 98 tackles.
Kickoff returns: 28.2 yards per return (2nd)
Punt returns: 9.8 yards per return (14th)
The Ravens are dangerous in the kickoff return game. Jacoby Jones has averaged 32.5 yards this season on 30 returns and had taken two kickoffs back for touchdowns, including one for 108 yards. Deonte Thompson averaged 25.9 yards on 15 returns. Jones also returns punts, averaging 9.6 yards on 29 returns with one touchdown and a long return of 63 yards.
On kickoffs this season the Giants are giving up only 23.8 yards per return. The Giants' average of 38.1 yards net per punt is 23rd in the league this season.
New York's ability to contain the Baltimore return game will be a factor in this game.