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News » Ravens-Giants Preview

Ravens-Giants Preview

Ravens-Giants Preview
As reigning Super Bowl champions, a four-game winning streak by the New York Giants could be expected. As a team starting a rookie quarterback, a four-game winning streak could have been tougher to come by for the Baltimore Ravens.

Two of the best teams of late, both seek a fifth consecutive victory Sunday when the Giants host the Ravens at Giants Stadium.

The Giants (8-1), who are 5-0 at home, have opened a two-game lead atop the highly competitive NFC East on the strength of a punishing running game. New York is averaging a league-high 168.9 rushing yards, has eclipsed 200 four times - including each of the last two games - and produced a 100-yard rusher in five of its nine contests.

Brandon Jacobs had 127 yards - his second straight 100-yard effort - and two touchdowns in Sunday's 36-31 victory over division rival Philadelphia, and has 243 yards in his last two games after totaling 183 in his previous three. Jacobs is fourth in the league with 806 yards and second with nine rushing touchdowns.

But the Giants also have depth behind Jacobs, with Derrick Ward rushing for 490 yards and Ahmad Bradshaw adding 205.

"We certainly believe in throwing the ball as well," Giants coach Tom Coughlin said. "But we do believe in the balance factor and the ability to rush the ball. We just believe in this conference, in this division, you have to be able to do that."

The Ravens (6-3), who have won three games on the road during their current win streak, will provide a stern test to that running game. They yield an NFL-low 65.4 rushing yards per game, and have not allowed more than 76 in any game this year. While Baltimore did give up 75 rushing yards in a 41-13 rout of Houston on Sunday, 15 came on a scramble by quarterback Sage Rosenfels.

"One thing you can't take away from them is that they're trying to do a great job with their offense and really letting all the backs really establish their mentality," Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis said. "...We've got to stop the run, and that's the bottom line. We're the best team in football doing that, so if there is a test, the test is just (to go) and uphold what you are already built to do."

Both teams have also proven to be more than one-dimensional. The Giants also enter this contest second in the league in pass defense (177.1 yards per game) and third in overall defense (264.8), right behind Baltimore. In turn, the Ravens have shown more ability to score offensively due to the increasing efficiency of rookie quarterback Joe Flacco.

The first-round pick from Delaware threw for 185 yards and two touchdowns in Sunday's win, and has thrown six TD passes without an interception during Baltimore's win streak. It is a stark contrast from his last four games, when he was intercepted seven times with only one scoring toss.

"He doesn't get flustered," Ravens coach John Harbaugh said. "Momentum swings don't affect him too much. He comes out and plays the next series and takes care of business. That's the kind of person he is. He played well when he had to."

Flacco, though, may be without leading receiver Derrick Mason, who is currently questionable with a separated shoulder. Mason, who has team highs of 46 receptions and 598 yards, believes he will be ready to play despite being unable to practice most of the week.

If Mason is unable to go, Flacco may have to lean more on Baltimore's running backs. The Ravens are third in rushing at 149.7 yards per game - led by Willis McGahee's 463 yards - and Le'Ron McClain and rookie Ray Rice each have more than 350 yards.

Giants quarterback Eli Manning had perhaps the worst game of his career against the Ravens on Dec. 12, 2004, when he went just 4-of-18 for a career-low 27 yards with two interceptions in a 37-14 loss as a rookie, but the fifth-year pro has been effective of late.

Manning, who has not thrown for more than 200 yards in his last five games, had two touchdown passes against the Eagles and five in his last two games. He also has thrown just six interceptions this season after being picked off a career-high 20 times in 2007.

But Manning will be facing a banged-up Ravens' secondary that had to place cornerback Chris McAlister and safety Dawan Landry on injured reserve - giving Baltimore a league-high 16 players on IR - this week with season-ending injuries.

The Ravens have won the last three games between the teams since 1997, including a 34-7 victory in the Super Bowl in 2001.

Author:Fox Sports
Author's Website:http://www.foxsports.com
Added: November 13, 2008

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Jarret Johnson Name: Jarret Johnson
Position: DE
Age: 26
Experience: 6 years
College: Alabama
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