Baltimore Ravens (6-3) +6.5 at New York Giants (8-1) -6.5, 42 o/u Sunday, November 16 1pm ET, CBS Giants Stadium, East Rutherford , NJ
by Matt of Predictem.com
A hard hitting matchup is on tap for Sunday, when the Baltimore Ravens travel to New Jersey to take on the defending NFL champs, the New York Giants. The Ravens are exceeding pre-season expectations and look to make a playoff push in the AFC, while the Giants are still rolling strong after last years Superbowl win and are in place for a #1 seed in the NFC side of the playoff draw. The game kicks at 1pm eastern from Giants Stadium and can be seen on CBS.
The game opened with the Giants as -5 point favorites, but most online sportsbooks have moved that to 6.5 and 5Dimes currently has the Ravens a 7.5 point dog. The Ravens are on the money line at +200 to +250 with the Giants in the -300 range and the over/under total for the game at 41.5 or 42.
Baltimore is one of the better stories in the NFL this year, as they are tied with the Steelers atop the AFC North with a rookie quarterback running the show. A three game losing streak had the Ravens at 2-3 after week six, but they have reeled off four consecutive wins since, taking down Cleveland and Houston most recently. Baltimore has a nice 3-2 straight up road mark in 08, and is 4-1 against the spread as visitors with a 7-2 overall ATS record, including a perfect 4 for the last 4.
The Giants are two full games clear of Washington in the NFC East and three ahead of Dallas and Philly after consecutive wins against the Cowboys and Eagles in the last two weeks. New York is a perfect 5-0 straight up at home, dropping only one of those games against the spread at Giants Stadium. The G-Men are 7-2 overall against the spread and are on a 10-1 ATS run against teams with a winning record.
The Ravens defense is reminding opposing offenses of the 2000 unit, but the Baltimore offense has found a nice rhythm with a strong running game and an efficient passing game as a complement. The Ravens rank 3rd in the NFL with 150 rushing yards per game behind three capable backs and while the 178 passing yards on average wont scare opposing secondary’s, the completions come at crucial spots, converting key third downs and keeping the opposing defenses on the field for another round of run stopping. Baltimore is truly back on track defensively, ranking in the top-10 in nearly all key stats, including a 5th best points allowed rank (16.7) and the leagues best rush yards allowed stat at only 65.2 yards per contest.
Joe Flacco was not scheduled to start from game one, but the experiment has worked, with the rookie hitting on 62.1% of his passes for 1,649 yards, seven touchdowns and seven picks. Willis McGahee leads the team in rushing at 463 yards, but Ray Rice and LeRon McClain have 356 and 345 respectively and the trio has combined for 10 touchdowns. All three backs are active as receivers as well, with each at or above 14 receptions, combining for nearly 400 yards. Derrick Mason provides veteran leadership and a safety outlet for Flacco, grabbing 46 balls for 598 yards and 2 TD’s, and TE Todd Heap is coming off his best game of the year, hauling in 2 TD’s against the Texans. Ray Lewis is still the leader of the defense, leading the team in tackles, and tied for the team lead in passes defended and interceptions.
The Giants offense is among the best in the league, rushing for an NFL best, 168.9 yards with a trio of backs of their own, and converting for a 2nd ranked, 29.1 points per game. The passing game is solid, averaging 205 yards per game and is at it’s best when the opposing defense commits extra men to stop the run and leaves the Giants talented receiver in man-to-man coverage. The defense has adapted to the retirement of Michael Strahan and season-ending injury to Osi Umenyiora, ranking 5th in total yards allowed while holding opponents to a 7th best, 17.8 points per game.
Eli Manning is emerging as a consistent signal caller, throwing for 1,926 yards on 60% completions with 14 touchdowns against 6 interceptions. Brandon Jacobs isa bulldozer of a running back at 264 pounds, and leads the G-men with 806 rushing yards and 9 touchdowns. Derrick Ward and Ahmad Bradshaw are the speed options in the New York backfield and serve as solid receivers as well, combining for nearly 1,000 scrimmage yards and 3 touchdowns. Plaxico Burress is having a bit of a down season stats-wise, but demands double coverage, opening up Steve Smith to lead the team with 35 receptions. Justin Tuck is one of the best in the league at getting to the quarterback, registering 8.5 sacks on the year and Corey Webster leads the team with 11 pass defenses and 3 picks.
These teams are a close match according to the Sagarin ratings, with the Giants listed as the 2nd ranked team at 29.45 and the Ravens 5th at 25.96 on the overall rating list.
My Pick: This one is a tough pick given these defenses should keep the scoring to a minimum, so the under looks to be a good play. I think the Giants have enough offense to cover this one with the final in the 21-13 range.