The NY Giants at the Baltimore Ravens could turn out to be the closest game of Week 16. The Ravens are on a three game losing streak but have already clinched a playoff spot. The Giants have wavered between good and terrible this season and they happen to be in a three-way tie for first in the NFC East with the Cowboys and the Redskins. Last week the Giants were humiliated by the Falcons 34-0. The Ravens were handed a clear defeat by Denver 34-17.
This week the Giants are the narrow favorite at a 2 point spread. The over/under for this game is 47 points
Even if the Giants have more need for a win than Baltimore, there is at least one reason to think that Baltimore could upset the Giants and win this game. Baltimore is 5-2 at home this season; that is a pretty significant record. The Giants are 3-4 on the road and have lost their last three games on the road.
But the Giants while favoring the pass also have a strong run game. Baltimore has performed poorly against teams that have good run elements in their offensive arsenal. For example, Baltimore lost to Washington and Houston, and won just 9-6 against the Chiefs. Against the pass strong teams they seem to do fine, they beat Dallas, New England, Pittsburgh and Oakland. Baltimore does seem to lose consistently to strong defenses but the Giants are consistently not so great on defense. Therefore if the Giants can get the run game going they could have success this week.
Giants RB Ahmad Bradshaw is listed as questionable this week. Two weeks ago when the Giants had Bradshaw and RB David Wilson in the game their run game came on and they had a clear win over the Saints. So keep an eye on Bradshaw’s situation. Meanwhile the Ravens are 17-2 when their RB Ray Rice has more than 20 carries in a game. Therefore the key to this game is the run game, who can establish it and who can defend it. Over the season Ray Rice has more yards and more TDs than Ahmad Bradshaw. Injuries aside, the Ravens should have the slightly better oiled run game but the Giants have a better run yards average per game so take the Giants.
Offensively the Giants average 26.6 points a game and the Ravens average 24.9 points a game. Defensively the Giants allow an average of 21.7 points a game and the Ravens allow 21.9 points on average. The odds predict a score of about 24-22 or 25-23 for the Giants. Given each team’s inconsistency it makes sense that the odds reflect season averages.
Everyone should also remember that the Ravens just fired their offensive coordinator last week. That is no small thing for a team to undergo, if there was to be a radically positive change in team performance as a result of the staffing change, it definitely did not show against the Broncos. Likely that carries over into this week. Ravens QB Joe Flacco looked very poor last week and again three weeks ago against the Steelers. Unless something really turns around for him and the offense, the Giants could cover the spread.
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