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Giants-Ravens story lines: Daniel Jones’ health, Giants’ playoff chances, more

Giants are double-digit underdogs vs. Baltimore

NFL: Cleveland Browns at New York Giants Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

The New York Giants are 11-point underdogs on Sunday in a game against the Baltimore Ravens they really need to win to put pressure on the Washington Football Team in the NFC East title chase. Here are some of the story lines to pay attention to.

Daniel Jones

Will the Giants’ quarterback play? Jones has missed two or the Giants’ last three games, first with a hamstring injury and then with an additional ankle sprain added to the hamstring. Jones’ initial hamstring injury, which occurred Week 12 against the Cincinnati Bengals, has coincided with a streak during which the Giants have gone four games without scoring at least 20 points. Part of the reason has to be that Jones’ running ability is a big part of the offense.

If Jones does play, how well will he be able to move around? Against the Arizona Cardinals two weeks ago, Jones played but was really unable to escape the pocket or avoid hits and suffered the ankle sprain.

“The standard remains the same. My concern with him has been his health, making sure he can go on the field and protect himself,” said head coach Joe Judge. “You want to make sure that you can put a quarterback out there in position. Not necessarily that he can just pull the ball down and run all the time. Just moving in the pocket fluidly and protecting himself. If you can’t do that, you’re just putting yourself at a greater risk. I’ve got to see Daniel move around. I want to make sure I make the right decision for him short term and long term.”

You need points to win

Joe Judge knows this, I promise.

“I’ve done a lot of studying on this,” Judge said on Monday. “One hundred percent of NFL games, the team that scores more points, wins, so we’re going to try to do that as much as we can.”

Problem is, the Giants are not scoring very many points. They have failed to reach 20 points in four straight games, and are 31st in the league in points per game at 17.4. That, obviously, is not going to get the job done.

If Jones is back, and healthy enough to move around and make some plays with hsi legs, that would help.

The uniqueness of Lamar Jackson

The Giants have faced Russell Wilson and Kyler Murray in recent weeks. Theoretically, that should help them prepare for Jackson. No other quarterback, though, is quite Jackson when it comes to being an explosive running threat.

Jackson is 12th in the NFL and leads the Ravens with 828 yards and seven touchdowns rushing. In his 2019 MVP season, he rushed for 1,206 yards and seven scores. Jackson is the first quarterback in NFL history with at least 800 rushing yards in consecutive seasons.

“He’s one of those special guys, and I think everyone knows i,” said Giants linebacker Blake Martinez.

Playoff chances dwindling

The odds are against the Giants making the playoffs, although there is a clear path for them to do so. If the Giants win both of their remaining games and the Washington Football Team splits with the Carolina Panthers and Philadelphia Eagles or loses both games, the Giants win the division. Of course, the Giants can also be eliminated from playoff contention Sunday with a loss or tie combined with a Washington victory.

It would really be a shame if the Week 17 game at MetLife Stadium against the Dallas Cowboys ended up being meaningless.