Ravens Are Near-Unanimous Pick to Beat Giants
When the Ravens' schedule for this season became official, you probably put a "W" next to this Sunday's road game against the New York Giants. It's understandable, considering the G-Men have finished with a winning record just once (2016) in the past nine seasons.
However, it's become clear that this year's team is not the same old Giants. At 4-1, the Giants have already matched last season's win total, and they're coming off a big victory over the Green Bay Packers in London that saw them rally from a 14-point deficit.
First-year Giants Head Coach Brian Daboll has instilled a winning culture; former Ravens Defensive Coordinator Wink Martindale has turned the defense into a top-10 unit; and a rejuvenated Saquon Barkley is on pace to rush for more than 1,800 yards and is averaging 5.5 yards per carry.
And just like that, the Ravens-Giants game is one of the most-anticipated matchups of Week 6.
Despite the Giants' surprising start, the visiting Ravens (3-2) are six-point favorites, and the majority of pundits (40 of 43) that we looked at are predicting the AFC North leaders to leave MetLife Stadium with the victory.
Here's a sample of what the pundits are saying about the game:
The Lamar Jackson-led offense vs. Martindale's blitzing defensemakes for a compelling matchup.
Fansided’s Matt Vederame: "Wink Martindale against Lamar Jackson. This is going to be fascinating stuff. Baltimore better be ready for every blitz imaginable."
The Baltimore Sun’s Childs Walker: "[Jackson's] performance against pressure — he punished blitzes better than any quarterback in the league through the first three weeks — will be a central plot against a Giants defense called by former Ravens coordinator Don 'Wink' Martindale. To no one's surprise, the Giants have jumped from 16th in the league in blitz rate last season to first with Martindale at the controls. They do not simply rely on sending extra men after the quarterback; they have a talented front led by monstrous nose tackle Dexter Lawrence (three sacks, eight quarterback hits) and outside linebacker Oshane Ximines. … For all their talent up front, the Giants rank 24th in pass-defense efficiency, according to Football Outsiders, a result of their struggles covering tight ends and No. 1 receivers. Their safeties and linebackers are ripe to be attacked in the middle of the field."
Pro Football Talk’s Mike Florio: "Don't be surprised if the Giants pull this one off, thanks to the knowledge of the offense carried to New York by former Ravens Defensive Coordinator Don Martindale."
CBS Sports’ Pete Prisco: "If [the Giants] can limit the Ravens and Lamar Jackson, they can win this game. It will be former Ravens Defensive Coordinator Wink Martindale trying to slow him down. I think he does."
NFL.com’s Gregg Rosenthal: "Wink Martindale's revenge game! In theory, the former Ravens defensive coordinator knows where the bodies are buried in the Ravens' offense. However, Lamar Jackson has averaged 7.9 yards per attempt with seven scores and one pick against the blitz this season, and the blitz is all the Giants' defense has."
The Ringer’s Sheil Kapadia: "Martindale knows Lamar Jackson's strengths and weaknesses well, having spent the previous four seasons as Baltimore's defensive coordinator. The Ravens know Martindale's blitz schemes well, too. I see a competitive game."
The Ravens are the better team and will come out on top.
CBS Sports’ John Breech: "The Giants are off to their best start since 2009 and I was about to jump on their bandwagon, but then I saw they were playing the Ravens this week. … Basically, the Giants still have a banged-up quarterback and a bunch of injured receivers and the Ravens are one of the better teams in the NFL. Plus, now that they're 4-1, they're not going to be able to sneak up on anyone anymore."
Pro Football Talk’s Michael David Smith: "Give the Giants all the credit in the world for a 4-1 start in what was supposed to be a rebuilding season, but the Ravens are going to come to town and dominate them."
Sports Illustrated’s Todd Karpovich: "New York will try to keep Jackson off the field by feeding Barkley the ball. This could keep the game close but the Ravens have enough talent to prevail."
The Giants' running game presents a stiff challenge.
Walker: "This is strength against weakness. The Giants, with the sublime Barkley at full strength, rank second in rushing yards per game and fourth in yards per carry. Barkley is on pace for more than 1,800 rushing yards and is a threat to score every time he touches the ball. [Quarterback Daniel] Jones is a devastating complement, averaging almost 50 rushing yards per game and 5.6 yards per carry. He's not Jackson, but his designed runs are a major part of Head Coach Brian Daboll's offense. … The Ravens, on the other hand, have sunk to a surprising 26th in run-defense efficiency, according to Football Outsiders. They allowed the Bengals, who had not been efficient on the ground, to run for 101 yards on 21 carries, and they could not stuff Joe Mixon on that crucial fourth-quarter touchdown drive."
Bold prediction: J.K. Dobbins will rush for more yards than Barkley.
ESPN’s Jamison Hensley: "Dobbins is coming off his most explosive game, averaging a season-best 3.25 yards after contact. The Giants have struggled against the run, giving up an average of 2.36 yards after contact (fourth-worst in the league). It could be a challenging day for Barkley against Baltimore, which has allowed just one running back to rush for more than 80 yards in a game since the start of 2021 (Dalvin Cook in Week 9 last season)."
The Giants will struggle to throw on the Ravens.
Sporting News’ Vinnie Iyer: "The Ravens' cornerbacks get a break with the Giants' depleted receiving corps."
Kapadia: "The Giants' pass catchers are going to have a tough time winning their one-on-one matchups against corners Marlon Humphrey and Marcus Peters."
Rosenthal: "With Marcus Williams out, the best way to beat the Ravens' defense is over the top. But no
offense has struggled to throw the ball downfield more than Big Blue's attack."
Jackson will continue his dominance against NFC teams.
Breech: "If there's one quarterback in the NFL I'm not going to pick against in an AFC vs. NFC matchup, it's Lamar Jackson. Since taking over the starting QB job in 2018, Jackson is a PERFECT 12-0 against NFC teams."
|ESPN||7 of 7 panelists pick Ravens|
|Baltimore Sun||Ravens 27, Giants 19||“There are two essential plots here: Will [Lamar] Jackson punish [Wink] Martindale’s blitzes and will [Saquon] Barkley and [Daniel] Jones run all over a soft Baltimore run defense? These will make for compelling football, but the Ravens have more paths to victory and will not let this become a trap game against an opponent that played in London last Sunday.” — Childs Walker|
|USA Today||6 of 6 panelists pick Ravens|
|NFL.com||Ravens 27, Giants 20||“Wink Martindale’s revenge game! In theory, the former Ravens defensive coordinator knows where the bodies are buried in the Ravens’ offense. However, Lamar Jackson has averaged 7.9 yards per attempt with seven scores and one pick against the blitz this season, and the blitz is all the Giants’ defense has. With Marcus Williams out, the best way to beat the Ravens’ defense is over the top. But no offense has struggled to throw the ball downfield more than Big Blue's attack.” — Gregg Rosenthal|
|NFL Network||9 of 10 panelists pick Ravens|
|Sporting News||Ravens 17, Giants 14||“The Ravens remain limited with their traditional running game, still led on the ground by Lamar Jackson. Jackson's passing game is back to Mark Andrews-heavy with Rashod Bateman hurting. The Giants' defense can work with that to slow down Baltimore's big-play ability. The Ravens' cornerbacks get a break with the Giants' depleted receiving corps, but Daniel Jones and Saquon Barkley grind their team to stay in another game." — Vinnie Iyer|
|CBS Sports||7 of 8 panelists pick Ravens||“The Giants are 4-1 and this is another prove-it game. If they can limit the Ravens and Lamar Jackson, they can win this game. It will be former Ravens defensive coordinator Wink Martindale trying to slow him down. I think he does. The Giants will also run the ball. This is close, but the Ravens will win it late.” — Pete Prisco|
|Pro Football Talk||2 of 3 panelists pick Ravens||“Give the Giants all the credit in the world for a 4-1 start in what was supposed to be a rebuilding season, but the Ravens are going to come to town and dominate them.” — Michael David Smith|
|Sports Illustrated||5 of 5 panelists pick Ravens|
|FanSided||Ravens 23, Giants 21||“Wink Martindale against Lamar Jackson. This is going to be fascinating stuff. Baltimore better be ready for every blitz imaginable.” — Matt Verderame|
Ravens Missed Marcus Peters' 'Special Sauce'
The word "swagger" has often been associated with the Ravens defense over the years, and no player on the current team exudes swagger more than Peters. The Ravens not only missed the All-Pro's ball-hawking skills when a torn ACL sidelined him for the entire 2021 season, but they also missed his fiery demeanor.
The Baltimore Sun’s Walker said Peters just might be the most interesting player on the team.
"No one reads the game more astutely than the 29-year-old cornerback. His peers depend on him for insights, and his former coordinator, Don 'Wink' Martindale, once asked him to call the defense from the sideline in a preseason game," Walker wrote. "At the same time, no one plays closer to the edge of chaos. Two weeks ago, we watched Peters scream at coach John Harbaugh and spike his helmet at the end of the Ravens' three-point loss to the Buffalo Bills.
"Teammates and coaches, Harbaugh perhaps most of all, accept such displays as part of the package. Peters … lifts them with his daring play and fierce emotions. If he does not always fit within prescribed lines, so be it. The Ravens missed his special sauce last season, when he tore his ACL and did not play a single snap. They're grateful to have it back, no matter how spicy the aftertaste."
Peters is coming off an outstanding performance in the Ravens' win over the Cincinnati Bengals this past Sunday night. He was questionable to play in the game after a quad injury popped up mid-week, but he sparkled under the bright lights, like just the gold cleats he was wearing.
The Ravens defense kept the Bengals' explosive passing game in check by sitting back in a two-deep zone. NBC analyst Cris Collinsworth told Walker that Peters could be even more deadly than usual if the Ravens continue to use a zone-heavy scheme.
"Marcus played a tremendous game last week; he's the best of their zone players," Collinsworth said. "Even when he's in man-to-man, he's looking at the quarterback. I mean, he's crazy. Not many people can do that. So if you let him be in a zone and truly drink in everything that the quarterback is doing and all the route combinations, I think he could end up having a monster year."
Next Gen Stats Ranks Mark Andrews as NFL's Second-Best TE
Who is the best tight end in the NFL – Mark Andrews or the Kansas City Chiefs' Travis Kelce? A strong case can be made for either one, but there is no debating that they're the top two at the position.
The Next Gen Stats Analytics Team, which devised a metric that measured every tight end's performance through the first five weeks of the season, ranked Kelce at No. 1, slightly ahead of Andrews.
Here's what NGS wrote about the Ravens All-Pro: "It's hard to understate how important Andrews is to Baltimore's passing game. The fifth-year pro has accounted for 35.5 percent of his team's air yards in 2022, the most by any tight end in a season in the Next Gen Stats era (since 2016). The only previous tight end to account for at least 30 percent of his team's air yards in a season was ... none other than Andrews himself, in 2021. Andrews is on a TE tier of his own when it comes to being a one-man show downfield, as he has accounted for a majority of his team's air yards in six games since being drafted in 2018. The rest of the tight ends in the NFL have combined for eight such games total over that time span."