It is hard to believe that the Baltimore Ravens clinched a playoff berth despite losing their last three games. It is even harder to believe they can still win the AFC North if they beat the defending Super Bowl champion New York Giants on Sunday.
The Giants are also fighting for a playoff spot and after getting destroyed 34-0 by the Atlanta Falcons last week, they are sure to put up a tough fight.
Luckily for the Ravens, Giants quarterback Eli Manning has been inconsistent all season just like Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco; both are coming off bad performance last week.
The difference between Manning and Flacco is that Manning is considered “elite” with two Super Bowl rings. Despite his recent struggles, Manning still knows how to win games; he has demonstrated his potential to come back and win.
If Manning can get the ball moving, the Ravens will need to stop the Giants passing game. Wide receiver Victor Cruz is one of the National Football League’s top receivers and he could give the struggling Ravens secondary problems.
The Giants defense is a different story; they only had two sacks in the last three games.
While Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis is expected to play in the game, the team has yet to make a final decision on his status.
When asked about Lewis’ status on Friday, Ravens head coach John Harbaugh said he’s “coming along.”
Lewis has been out since week seven when he tore his biceps and had surgery to repair it. The Ravens have until 4pm Saturday to activate him and add him to the 53-man roster.
The Ravens continue to be plagued by injuries; the list is still quite long.
Some notable players listed as questionable include wide receiver Torrey Smith who suffered a concussion last week and guard Marshall Yanda who has an ankle injury. Both were limited in practice on Thursday and Friday.
Running back Bernard Pierce also suffered a concussion last week and full back Vonta Leach has an ankle injury.
Safety Bernard Pollard is recovering from a chest injury, he missed last week’s game and did not practice this week.
Linebackers Dannell Ellerbe and Alert McClellan were both limited all week.
Once again I am nervous about the game, a feeling that has become all too familiar lately. While I want to believe that Flacco can rebound and explode offensively, I don’t have faith in offensive coordinator Jim Caldwell’s ability to make the right calls. Last week was his first week calling plays after the Ravens fired former O.C. Cam Cameron.
The defense is still banged up and if Manning gets the ball moving, the Ravens are sure to struggle to protect their house.
I will hope for the best, but expect the worst. At least the Ravens aren’t playing for a playoff spot, but they still have a chance to win their division.