With three straight losses, the New York Giants have fallen into last place in the NFC East and reached a critical juncture in their 2016 season. Can they get back on track? Or, like the last three losing ones did, will this one spiral out of control?
We begin to find out Sunday at MetLife Stadium when the Giants face the Baltimore Ravens (1 p.m. ET). Let’s take our first real look this week at that matchup.
The Giants, of course, started 2-0 and are now 2-3. The Ravens’ season has somewhat mirrored that of the Giants. After a 3-0 start, the Ravens will come to MetLife 3-2 after consecutive losses to the Oakland Raiders and Washington Redskins.
Oddsmakers list the Giants as 3-point favorites.
As we do each week, we will be taking in-depth looks at the matchups on both sides of the ball. For now, let’s quickly touch on them.
Giants on offense
We know the Giants, 27th in the league at 17.8 points per game have not been good enough on offense. Once again this week, they face a difficult test. The Ravens are the league’s second-ranked defense, allowing only 266.8 yards per game.
To have success, the Giants will need to take better advantage of their trio of wide receivers — Odell Beckham, Sterling Shepard and Victor Cruz — than they have been able to in recent weeks. Football Outsiders noted that Eli Manning went 0-for-6 on passes longer than 15 yards against the Green Bay Packers last Sunday, and just 7-for-22 for 70 yards throwing to Beckham, Shepard and Cruz.
The Giants will also have to contend with Baltimore edge rushers Terrell Suggs and Elvis Dumervil, as well as the inside rush of defensive tackle Timmy Jernigan. Suggs has a team-leading four sacks and Jernigan has three. Dumervil, working his way back from offseason foot surgery, has no sacks in two games. He has twice registered 17 in a season, and has four double-digit sack seasons in a 10-year career.
Giants on defense
The Giants got their first two defensive takeaways of the season against the Packers, both interceptions by Janoris Jenkins. The pass rush remains non-existent, however. The Giants are last in the league with four sacks. The team’s Adjusted Sack Rate of 2.6 percent is also worst in the league.
The Baltimore offense, led by quarterback Joe Flacco, is not a juggernaut. The Ravens are 22nd in the league in yards per game at 338.2, and in points per game at 18.8.
Flacco has completed 63.9 percent of his passes (138-of-216) with five touchdowns and four interceptions. The amazing 37-year-old Steve Smith leads Baltimore with 27 receptions. Running back Terrance West is averaging 5.03 yards per carry (65/327). West is aiming for a third straight game with at least 95 yards rushing.