Excerpt: "The New York Giants 2012 season has been a bit of an enigma. We've seen this team come out on the road and beat the San Francisco 49ers 26-3 and last week we saw them get shut out 34-0 by the Atlanta Falcons. Despite going 2-4 in their last six games, Big Blue has somehow retained control of their playoff destiny. Win these next two matchups against the Baltimore Ravens and Philadelphia Eagles, and the Giants will be playing football in January for the second consecutive season.
However, anybody who tells you that they know how this team is going to come out and play today is a liar. As much as one would like to think that a group of 53 grown men getting paid millions of dollars to do their job would be able to perform to the best of their ability in the biggest game of the season, the only thing that the Giants have proven with their performances in 2012 is that they are consistently unpredictable.
Luckily for Big Blue, the Ravens are coming off an ugly loss at home to the Denver Broncos. There will be a sense of desperation in the air for both squads today. Let's take a look at how the Giants can leave Baltimore with both a victory and their playoff hopes intact.
Eli Must Lead the Offense
We touched upon this in the game preview leading into last weekend's debacle down in Atlanta. We further discussed Eli Manning's shortcomings in 2012 during the week here at Giants 101. The Giants are only going to make it as far as Eli Manning takes them this season. Manning has thrown multiple interceptions in each of his last two games and has been inaccurate with his deep passes as of late. When asked if the team relies too much on Manning, head coach Tom Coughlin said reiterated that Eli can't do it all by himself.
"I don’t think it’s bad for them to say that. But I do think they have to understand sometimes it helps to create an opportunity for Eli," Coughlin said. "Everybody relies on Eli to go do it. We did it seven times the year before, and I like that for him in terms of when people think about him and his reputation as a quarterback and as a pressure player. I like that. I want that, but I’d like to see it happen a little bit right now.”
We don't need to look at statistics or watch game film to realize that the Giants' offense desperately needs their star quarterback to play to his potential in this game. Baltimore has had issues on the defensive side of the ball this season without Ray Lewis, Lardarious Webb and an injured Terrell Suggs. However, the Ravens are historically a tough opponent at home in December. It's going to take a monumental offensive effort from Manning to orchestrate long, consistent drives as the road team.
These are usually the games when Manning comes out and shows his true colors. When the Giants backs are to the wall and the lights are brightest, Eli generally comes through and delivers. If Eli doesn't have a bounce back game today, the Giants will more than likely emerge with a loss.
Get Martellus Bennett Involved
The Ravens have struggled against athletic tight ends all year. Rob Gronkowski, Jason WItten, Owen Daniels, Brent Celek and even Brandon Myers have all had productive games against this Ravens defense this season. Bennett has been an underutilized weapon in the Giants offense this season and could provide the safety blanket over the middle of the field that Eli manning has been missing this season.
Bennett is also effective because he can be used in both run blocking schemes and down field passes. He's faster than most linebackers, but too big for a safety to blog. Bennett has freakish athleticism that could allow for some serious production against a vulnerable defense." Read more...