Giants – Ravens Preview: Diary of a Giants Fan
After an embarrassing loss in Atlanta, the Giants try to rally in Baltimore against the Ravens.
And here we are again. Suspended somewhere between the crushing disappointment of a season lost and the unmitigated joy of realized potential, waiting with bated breath to see how the cast dye lands.
Like we always are.
Just when we think the we've finally slain the beast, the damn thing gets back up.
Most recently, the resurrection of the beast was seen last Sunday in Atlanta. After throttling the Saints the week before, the Giants were spectacularly beaten by the Falcons - shut out, 34-0. With the loss, the Giants have fallen out of first in the division, and a playoff birth that looked a sure thing a few weeks ago is now uncertain. Even with the loss, however, two wins in the season's final two games earns Big Blue a spot in the tournament.
The campaign begins Sunday against the Baltimore Ravens who have already secured themselves a spot in the playoffs. Injuries and mis-use of their best, and possibly only, offensive weapon, Ray Rice, has sparked a string of poor play, however, leaving them a shell of the team most thought they would be.
Little of that will matter, however, if the Giants don't find a way to improve off of last week's...effort. The expected returns of Ahmad Bradshaw and Kenny Phillips will help, but, to me, the deciding factor lies in the arm and head of number ten. More now then ever - with the defensive line proving, week after week, that they are more flash than substance - the Giants go as Eli Manning goes. Last week, Manning was outsmarted by the Falcons - something that hadn't really been seen since the early years, the dark years, the Kurt Warner years.
In short, Manning didn't go, and neither did the Giants.
This week, I'm calling for a reversal of fortune. Maybe I'm naive, maybe I'm missing something, maybe I'm just dumb, but the Ravens don't scare me. Ray Lewis - who is no longer the game changing linebacker he once was - and Terrell Suggs are both fighting injuries, and Joe Flacco scares no one.
Plus, isn't this a script we've read before? Isn't this what the Giants do? Play just bad enough to make Tom Coughlin's use of the "nobody believes in us" card justifiable, then exploit the hell out of it.
I think Big Blue mixes the run and pass well and Manning returns to the Manning of old. With Phillips back in the fold defensively, the Giants will keep Baltimore's only deep threat, Torrey Smith, under wraps and allow the defensive line to rack up a few coverage sacks.
On the road, having backed themselves into a corner? That's a recipe for me to take the Giants. 24-20 Giants.
Follow me on Twitter for thoughts throughout the game, check back after for a full wrap-up, and, as always, Go Giants!