In many ways, this game is like last week’s game vs. the Green Bay Packers and the one the week before that against the Minnesota Vikings. And, if you really want to go there, the Week 3 game against the Washington Redskins.
It’s an important game against a good team. In other words, the kind of football game the New York Giants have not won for a very, very long time. Especially when the opposing team has a quality quarterback. Joe Flacco of the Ravens isn’t Aaron Rodgers, but he is a good quarterback with a Super Bowl ring who is capable of carving up a team that doesn’t play well.
When I picked the Packers to win last week, I wrote in part that “it is really impossible to pick the Giants to win [a big game] until they actually prove that they can. The Giants have had a number of opportunities in recent years in similar situations, coming up short every time.”
It would be easy to fall on that sword again, to apply that logic here and make the same prediction. The fact that the Giants still haven’t won a game like this in four years and that the majority of the roster’s core have never experienced anything in the NFL other than failure remains true.
And yet ... and yet, if there ever was a game where the Giants should be able to overcome that history of failure this one appears to be it.
Coming off three straight losses, the Giants are at home and are 3-point favorites. Why? The Ravens are coming off a pair of losses themselves. Flacco is good. He isn’t Rodgers. Or Tom Brady. Or Cam Newton. Or Tony Romo. Or even Russell Wilson. All of those are quarterbacks who have beaten the Giants in recent seasons.
The Ravens are floundering to the point where they fired offensive coordinator Marc Trestman this week and replaced him with Marty Mornhinweg.
Baltimore is also ravaged by injuries, the rare NFL team in recent seasons that makes the Giants look healthy. The Ravens have already ruled out pass-rushing linebacker Elvis Dumervil, good news for the Giants’ offensive tackles. Five other key players — kick returner Devin Hester, offensive lineman Marshal Yanda and Ronnie Stanley, wide receiver Steve Smith Sr. and linebacker C.J. Mosley — are also unlikely to play.
What all of that means is that the Ravens will be vulnerable when they take the field at MetLife Stadium on Sunday.
The Giants have plenty of problems. A struggling quarterback. Inability to get big plays from their wide receivers. Inconsistency from their offensive line. Injuries in the secondary. A mostly non-existent pass rush.
Still, this game presents the Giants with a golden opportunity to regain their footing. To show that they are not the same never quite good enough to win a big game against a good team Giants.
I’m breaking my own “don’t pick them to win a game like this until they prove they can” rule and picking them to do just that Sunday against Baltimore.
Prediction: Giants 30, Ravens 24