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Cover 3: What we learned from Giants vs. Ravens

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Takeaways from the New York Giants' 27-13 loss to the Baltimore Ravens in Week 16:

John Schmeelk: The Giants will make the playoffs if they beat the Cowboys and the Eagles defeat the Washington Football Team. Personally, I don't care about the machinations or what's at stake.

Sure, I care that we get to write about and build up to a meaningful Week 17 game, take calls about it all week on Big Blue Kickoff Live, and broadcast a potential "win and in you're in game" at Metlife Stadium. I care that Giants fans might be able to enjoy a playoff game for the first time since 2016.

But I don't care for the same football reasons that Joe Judge says he doesn't care in his press conferences. If the Giants don't play better football, none of it is going to matter. Even if the Giants figure out a way to beat Dallas, if they play like they did the last three weeks, they will get dominated in the first round of the playoffs by whoever they play.

The Giants have played poor football during their three-game losing streak, getting outscored, 73-26. This is not simply a matter of situational football like third-down or red zone performance, which can be extremely volatile. It also isn't about turnovers, with the Giants playing clean football in their last two games. It is not a couple of big plays swinging games here or there.

The Giants have been outgained by 498 yards in those three games. They have managed only two touchdowns during the stretch. The defense has allowed 390 yards or more in all three losses. The special teams coverage units have been inconsistent. The team has lost time of possession by at least eight minutes each time. The result has been three fairly lopsided losses.

There is no easy solution, or single player, unit or coach to point the finger at. It is an overall execution problem. The team has not played well. The Giants will have one more chance to show that the 2020 edition is more like the team that beat Seattle and won five of seven games from Oct. 18-Dec. 6 than the team which has hit the skids.

Dan Salomone: The Giants can do what everyone wants to: forget 2020. All that matters is what happens on Sunday, Jan. 3, 2021 (which is also Eli Manning's 40th birthday by the way). Win or lose, this team's mantra has been to get back to work and focus on the next task at hand. And that is a regular-season finale against the Cowboys, with a chance to capture the NFC East title on the line. If the Giants win and Washington loses, Big Blue would be on top of the division for the first time since 2011. With the Eagles already eliminated, the topsy-turvy division will continue its 16-year streak of producing no repeat champion since Philadelphia won four in a row from 2001-04.

The good news for the Giants is they scored a season-high 34 points in their Week 5 meeting with the Cowboys. The bad news is they also allowed a season-high 37 points in the loss.

"We don't have any control over what happens with other teams, other games played," Judge said after the loss in Baltimore. "We had that control in our first 15 games - the results of those games are what matter. In terms of where this team is headed and what we have been able to accomplish this year, in terms of the foundation, the culture – we have improved a lot of playing across the board. A lot of players, a lot of development from young guys and new guys in this program. So no, the end result is where we are looking to get going in this program, I feel that we are on the right track and moving in the right direction."

Lance Medow: For the second straight week, the Giants faced one of the best rushing teams in the NFL. But unlike last week when they kept the Browns' ground attack in check and forced Baker Mayfield to set the tone through the air, New York failed to do so in Baltimore and it was very costly. The Ravens ran the ball 40 times for 249 yards. The volume stands out as does the 6.2 yards per carry and it really made no difference who carried the ball. Lamar Jackson, Gus Edwards and J.K. Dobbins strengthened their reputation as a three-headed monster in the backfield.

Here's the most telling stat: the Ravens didn't have one negative play outside of when Jackson took a knee to end the game. They had 22 runs for 5+ yards and five for 10+ yards, including three for 20 or more. Entering Week 16, Baltimore led the NFL in rushing with 173 yards per game, so there was no surprise to their game. And when you can't stop the Ravens on early downs, it makes it that much more difficult to stay in the game. Thanks to their overwhelming success on first and second down, Baltimore went 8-of-11 on third down – and 10 of those attempts were for four yards or less. To take it a step further, they faced just one third down on two of their lengthy TD drives.

The Giants' defense couldn't get off the field and that's why there was a significant difference in time of possession (+10 minutes) and, for most of the game, a huge disparity in the number of plays. New York has trailed by double digits in the first half in each of its last three games and it's impacted the offensive play-calling as well as their ability to run the ball. It's no coincidence that the Giants have had no more than 21 run plays in any of them. When you dig yourself in an early hole, it's very hard to maintain balance on offense and when you have to pass that much in the second half, the defense has a much better read on your strategy and can settle in. It's a big reason why in two of the last three games, the opposition has recorded at least six sacks (Cardinals, Ravens). New York has manufactured just 26 total points and two touchdowns during its current three-game skid. Regardless of how the defense performs, you're not going to win many games with that kind of production.

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