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Fact or Fiction: Keys for Giants vs. Ravens


Lamar Jackson is the toughest quarterback to defend on the Giants' schedule this year.

John Schmeelk: Fiction- Jackson is the most dangerous runner at quarterback that the Giants will face this year, but he will not be the most difficult one to defend. The Ravens are last in the NFL in pass completions of 15+ yards. Their difficulty stretching the field with deep throws takes an element away that was present with Russell Wilson and Kyler Murray. Jackson will be a pain to defend, but not as difficult or challenging as Wilson or Murray, who can run it and throw it at the highest level.

Lance Medow: Fact- Lamar Jackson is 12th in the NFL in rushing with 828 yards and first in yards per carry with 6.1 - that's for all players, not just quarterbacks. Arizona's Kyler Murray, who the Giants just faced, is 18th (741) and second (6.0) in those respective categories. Like Murray, Jackson is a dual-threat, so that means you need to account for his ability to run as much as what he can do with his arm. Lamar has tremendous speed and if you're not used to dealing with his skills, it could be a rude awakening. Jackson is extremely unique and a step up from Murray, based on his speed and frame. The former has run for at least 51 yards in ten of his 14 games this season. This is by far the Giants' biggest challenge when it comes to defending a quarterback.

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The Ravens' offense is a bigger challenge than their defense.

John Schmeelk: Fact- The Ravens' defense is very aggressive and features a heavy blitz package, but they were also missing several of their best players due to injury last week. Defensive lineman Calais Campbell and cornerbacks Marcus Peters and Jimmy Smith missed their game against the Jaguars in Week 15. They are also lacking a star edge rusher who can consistently win a 1-on-1. While the Ravens do not have an explosive passing attack, they have the best and more diverse rushing attack in football. They lead the NFL in runs of 20+ yards and Lamar Jackson can break a long run on any play if the defense isn't gap-sound.

Lance Medow: Fact- The Ravens showcase the best rushing attack in the NFL and Lamar Jackson accounts for just one-third of that facet. Gus Edwards and rookie J.K. Dobbins complement Jackson as they each have over 560 rushing yards and are averaging five yards per carry. In any given game, one of those three players can do the heavy lifting, which is why you have to anticipate and be prepared for all of them. In addition, Baltimore is averaging 29 points per game (fifth in the NFL), ranks fifth in third-down efficiency (46%) and 12th in red zone offense (64%). Although their passing game is 31st in the league (174 yards), you can't overlook what tight end Mark Andrews and wide receivers Marquise Brown and Dez Bryant bring to the table. The Ravens' defense has a plethora of playmakers at all levels, highlighted by an opportunistic secondary, but given the uniqueness of Greg Roman's offense and the versatile runners out of the backfield, the offense is a bigger headache.

The Giants will be aggressive in their play-calling again in Baltimore.

John Schmeelk: Fact and Fiction- Huh? Yes, because there are two different ways to answer this question. The Giants will have to be aggressive in their decision-making because they are going to have to surpass 20 points if they want to win this game. The Ravens have one of the best third-down offenses in the league, and they will figure out a way to score some points. The Ravens play man-to-man and blitz a lot, but they are not a team that the Giants will be able to take advantage of with big plays. Only two teams have allowed fewer than Baltimore's 36 plays of 20+ yards. The Giants are going to have to be aggressive in situations, but their best bet in terms of play-calling will be to win with their run attack and short-passing game.

Lance Medow: Fact- Following last Sunday's loss to the Browns, Joe Judge made it very clear: "Field goals weren't going to win this game" and I don't see why that philosophy would change against Baltimore. The Ravens are averaging 29 points per game and have scored 40 or more in each of their last two contests. They also went 10-for-10 in the red zone over those two games. If you want to keep up with the Ravens, you have to find the end zone and reach it consistently. So, the Giants will have to stay aggressive on both sides of the ball.

Evan Engram is the Giants' X-factor on Sunday.

John Schmeelk: Fiction- The X-Factor in this game is going to be the Giants' offensive line. The Giants are going to have to run the ball and protect their quarterback against a defense that blitzes a league-high 46% of the time. If the offensive line can't handle a very aggressive, physical, and downhill front, they will not be able to win. On defense, Blake Martinez's ability to handle the misdirection of the Ravens' run game will be critical in slowing down Baltimore's offense.

Lance Medow: Fiction- The X-factor in this game has to come on defense. The Giants are averaging just over 17 points per game and have scored less than 20 points in each of the last four. Could an offensive explosion occur this week? Given the Jets beat the Rams and the Bengals knocked off the Steelers in Week 15, I wouldn't dismiss anything but I also wouldn't expect it. The Giants were very effective in slowing down the Browns' run game and they're certainly capable of doing the same thing against Baltimore - which is why the secondary is the X-factor. Last Sunday, Baker Mayfield was 27-of-32 for 297 yards and two touchdowns. If New York forces Lamar Jackson to primarily be a passer, will the secondary answer the call? The defensive backs will be crucial in determining how the Giants' defense fares against the Ravens.



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