The inconsistent New York Giants meet the slumping Baltimore Ravens on Sunday at M&T Bank Stadium.With that in Bruce Raffel of SB Nation's Ravens' web site, 'Baltimore Beatdown,' and I swapped five questions this week.
Below, Bruce's answers to my questions. Be sure to stop by 'Beatdown' to see my answers to Bruce's queries.
Ed: What is the mood with the Ravens? After losing three straight and seeing Joe Flacco's "0-14" comments you wonder from the outside if that team is imploding.
Bruce: The mood of the team is that they know they aren't getting any respect and are angry and ready to take out their frustrations on the Giants. The fans are another thing, as they are getting their pitchforks and torches ready to storm the team facility if they don't turn this thing around right away.
Ed: Speaking of Flacco, what do Ravens fans make of him? He's not Mark Sanchez, but he's not Tom Brady, either. Can you win big with the guy?
Bruce: There is more debate on the state of Joe Flacco than the Fiscal Cliff in Baltimore. Some say the change in OC will help him. Others blame the offensive line's problems and still more the difficulty the receivers have had getting separation. Me? I think Flacco has reached his ceiling and without a solid defense to keep the score low, he cannot carry this team with his arm due to poor pocket presence and his immobility.
Ed: Let me flip this question back at you. How do the Giants attack the Ravens defense and stop the Ravens offense?
Bruce: The previous version of this Ravens defense stopped the run as good as anyone. This current version has been unable to do just that, consistently being pushed back five yards before contact with the runner is made. Combine a commitment to running the ball with play action and the pass rush is virtually non-existent, exposing the secondary to big plays, especially the tight ends deep over the middle.
Ed: If there was one Giants player you could put into your starting lineup who would it be? Why?
Bruce: From my point of view, it would have to be Jason Pierre-Paul, as Baltimore needs a solid pass rusher to complement Terrell Suggs and limit the time opposing QB's have had at sitting back and waiting for their receivers to get open. Otherwise, I'd take your LT, whom I don't recall his name, as anyone would be an upgrade over Michael Oher.
Ed: Give me a couple of under-the-radar or lesser-known players Giants' fans might not be familiar with, but that they should watch out for on Sunday.
Bruce: TE Dennis Pitta isstill relatively unknown outside of Baltimore and while he wont remind anyone of Rob Gronkowski, he is Flacco's best friend on the team and favorite target, with great hands. Rookie RB Bernard Pierce is a solid complement to give Ray Rice a breather. On defense, DT Arthur Jones has been getting to the QB, although his younger brother, Chandler (Patriots rookie) and Jon 'Bones' Jones, UFC Light-Heavyweight Champ, garner more press than Art.
Bruce's prediction: Ravens finally plug their sinking ship with a close, hard-fought 27-23 victory.