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Giants vs. Ravens Game Preview: Ravens Feeling Fierce, Angry

Posted Dec 23, 2012

In the midst of a three-game losing skid, the Ravens are anxious to play Sunday.

The Ravens have only twice experienced a three-game losing streak under Head Coach John Harbaugh.

And they've never had one come this late in the season, when they're supposed to be making a push into the playoffs.

So how are the Ravens feeling heading into Sunday's game against the New York Giants?

"Fierce is a term that comes to mind immediately," Head Coach John Harbaugh said Friday.

"That's how I'm feeling. This is the time of year that you work for. This is the time of year where everything is on the line. We love this time of year."

The Ravens haven't had a losing skid last more than three games since 2007, Brian Billick's final year as head coach. Baltimore lost nine straight that season.

Baltimore wants to desperately stop the bleeding at three games, and a victory would seal a second straight AFC North title.

"We're fired up, we're mad, we're angry," defensive end Pernell McPhee said. "We're all the above."

Contributing to the Ravens' passion heading into this game is that they're facing the defending world champions. Baltimore was one catch away from the Super Bowl last year, and a missed field goal sealed its fate, sending the Patriots to play New York instead.

"They won the Super Bowl last year, so it's even better," linebacker Dannell Ellerbe said. "It's going to be a great game, a great challenge. I'm looking forward to it."

3 Matchups To Watch

LT Michael Oher vs. DE Jason Pierre-Paul
Oher has had some trouble with speed rushers recently. Pierre-Paul is among the best of them, even though his numbers have dipped this year to 6.5 sacks. If Baltimore's offense is going to click, the Ravens offensive line has to keep the Giants' talented pass rush (led by Pierre-Paul) off Flacco.

CB Corey Graham vs. WR Victor Cruz
The Ravens are hoping there isn't any salsa dancing at M&T Bank Stadium. Cruz is one of 14 NFL receivers with over 1,000 receiving yards this year (1,019) and his nine touchdowns are tied for sixth-most in the league. Cary Williams may be covering the bigger Hakeem Nicks, which could leave Graham on the outside or in the slot against the nimble and fleet-footed Cruz.

OLB Terrell Suggs vs. LT Will Beatty
The Giants have allowed a league-low 16 sacks this season. Suggs has just two sacks this season due to Achilles tendon and biceps injuries. If Suggs can get going against the Giants, it could free up more space for other (more healthy) rushers such as defensive tackle Haloti Ngata and defensive end Art Jones. Beatty is a big 6-foot-6, 319-pounder who anchors a veteran offensive line.

3 Questions To Answer

Which Joe Flacco will play?
Flacco has played well only in spurts during the Ravens' three-game losing skid. Turnovers have been his problem, as he has six in the past three games. Flacco needs to protect the ball better against a Giants team that can certainly put pressure on him. Flacco said this week that he puts the offense's inefficiency on his shoulders.

Will the offense start clicking under Caldwell?
In his second week on the job, Offensive Coordinator Jim Caldwell stressed consistency. The Ravens offense got off to a dreadful start against the Denver Broncos last week with five straight three-and-outs. With more time, what will change under Caldwell? The Ravens could ramp up the passing attack facing the NFL's 28th-ranked pass defense.

Is Ray Lewis coming back? And will it make a difference?
Linebacker Ray Lewis practiced for a third straight week and has made progress, according to Harbaugh. After initially suffering what was thought to be a season-ending injury, Lewis' return would be a second miraculous comeback this season for the Ravens along with Suggs'. Players say Lewis' return would inspire the defense, and it will be interesting to see if it leads to results.

2012 Rankings

Ravens
Total Defense – 374.3 (26)
Rush Defense – 132.2 (26)
Pass Defense – 242.1 (22)
Points Allowed Per Game – 21.9 (13)

Total Offense – 339.6 (21)
Rush Offense – 105.1 (22)
Pass Offense – 234.6 (14)
Points Scored Per Game – 24.9 (12)

Giants
Total Defense – 377.4 (28)
Rush Defense – 123.7 (22)
Pass Defense – 253.7 (28)
Points Allowed Per Game – 21.7 (12)

Total Offense – 364.6 (10)
Rush Offense – 115.0 (15)
Pass Offense – 249.6 (9)
Points Scored Per Game – 26.6 (6)

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The opinions, analysis and/or speculation expressed on BaltimoreRavens.com represent those of individual authors, and unless quoted or clearly labeled as such, do not represent the opinions or policies of the Baltimore Ravens' organization, front office staff, coaches and executives. Authors' views are formulated independently from any inside knowledge and/or conversations with Ravens officials, including the coaches and scouts, unless otherwise noted.

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