NEW YORK GIANTS (8-6)
at BALTIMORE RAVENS (9-5)
Kickoff: Sunday, 4:25 p.m. EDT
Line: New York -2.5, Total: 47
Two struggling teams that are still hoping to capture their respective division titles meet on Sunday when the Baltimore hosts the New York Giants.
The Ravens are in complete disarray right now. They’ve lost three in a row, SU and ATS, and they seemed to press the panic button in firing offensive coordinator Cam Cameron prior to last week. Things weren’t any better under new OC Jim Caldwell last Sunday, as they couldn’t move the ball until garbage time in a 34-17 home loss to the Broncos. The potential return of LB Ray Lewis (triceps) could give them a needed boost defensively. The Giants are coming off an absolute dud of their own, getting shut out 34-0 in Atlanta. They’ve been awful on the road, getting outscored 82-29 over their past three road games, all SU and ATS defeats.
Can the Ravens stop their three-game slide against the defending Super Bowl champs? For the answer, connect to The Platinum Sheet for all the StatFox Experts picks for every NFL game throughout the 2012 season and playoffs.
Eli Manning continues to flounder on the road this season with a 77.3 passer rating (6.9 YPA, 5 TD, 6 INT), including last week's 38.9 rating (13-of-25, 161 yds, 0 TD, 2 INT). However Manning expects to have a heavy workload on Sunday, as the Ravens pass defense ranks 22nd in the NFL with 242 passing YPG allowed. Manning will once again rely on top receivers Victor Cruz (79 rec, 1,019 yds, 9 TD) and Hakeem Nicks (692 rec. yds), but last week it was Domenik Hixon who led the team with 80 receiving yards on five catches. New York's running game is not in great shape with top RB Ahmad Bradshaw (knee) as a game-time decision. And the Ravens porous run defense (132 YPG allowed, 26th in NFL) will certainly improve if Ray Lewis returns to action, like he is expected to do. However, Giants rookie RB David Wilson has been outstanding in the past two weeks, rushing for 155 yards and 2 TD on just 25 carries (6.2 YPC).
Like Manning, Ravens QB Joe Flacco has also had much better success on his home turf (96.8 rating, 13 TD, 5 INT) than on the road (75.3 rating, 7 TD, 5 INT). However, his past two home games (both losses) have been shaky, as he's completed just 48.6% of his passes for 6.0 YPA, 3 TD and 2 INT. He expects to look much sharper against a generous Giants pass defense allowing 254 YPG (5th-most in NFL). Flacco will also likely have the services of top WR Torrey Smith (concussion) who returned to practice Thursday and expects to suit up on Sunday. But per usual, this Baltimore offense revolves around RB Ray Rice who has rushed for 1,031 yards (4.5 YPC) and 9 TD. However, Rice has just one 100-yard game in the past nine contests and he was bottled up versus Denver last week with just 38 yards on 12 carries (3.2 YPC). He should be able to have some success on Sunday though, as the Giants rank 22nd in rushing defense at 124 YPG.