The focus will be on new offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg’s impact on a struggling passing attack in his first game as play caller for the Ravens.
RAVENS PASSING GAME: The focus will be on new offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg's impact on a struggling passing attack in his first game as play caller. Expect to see Joe Flacco take a few more shots down the field, if the offensive line holds up, and try to get out of the pocket more. Flacco has thrown more passes than any quarterback in football, but he's only 11th in passing yards. With Steve Smith Sr. dealing with an ankle injury, the Ravens badly need Kamar Aiken and Breshad Perriman to step up.
GIANTS PASSING GAME: Eli Manning has just two touchdown passes in his past four games and he's completed only 54 percent of his passes the past two weeks. Opponents have been keeping their two safeties deep, taking away the Giants' downfield passing game and limiting the big-play ability of Odell Beckham Jr. and rookie Sterling Shepard. Beckham scored his first touchdown last week. With struggling 2015 first-round pick Ereck Flowers protecting his blindside, Manning has looked skittish in the pocket.
RAVENS RUNNING GAME: Slowly but surely, the Ravens are gaining some traction on the ground. They now rank 17th in rushing yards per game (99) and 14th in yards per carry (4.1). Marc Trestman was fired Monday partly because of his failure to commit to the running game, so it's a good bet Mornhinweg will challenge the Giants early and often on the ground. West has averaged 6.5 yards per carry over last two games. The Ravens want to get rookie Kenneth Dixon more involved after a quiet three-carry debut.
GIANTS RUNNING GAME: With Rashad Jennings missing the previous two games, the Giants haven't been able to mount a rushing attack. They've totaled 121 rushing yards over the past two weeks. Former Raven Bobby Rainey was their leading rusher last week with 22 yards on five carries. For the season, the Giants rank 27th in the NFL with 83.6 rushing yards per game. Head coach and play caller Ben McAdoo keeps defenses honest with the run, but the Giants shouldn't threaten the Ravens on the ground too much.
RAVENS RUSH DEFENSE: It's getting to the point where teams are abandoning the run earlier and earlier against the Ravens. Only six teams have faced fewer rushing attempts than the Ravens, and only three teams are allowing fewer rushing yards per game. The Ravens are holding the opposition to 76 rushing yards per game and they haven't allowed a rushing score since Week 2. Weak-side linebacker Zachary Orr leads the Ravens with 37 tackles. C.J. Mosley's hamstring injury could force Albert McClellan inside.
GIANTS RUSH DEFENSE: The Giants haven't gotten a ton of production out of their defensive spending spree this offseason, but nose tackle acquisition Damon Harrison has been a nice anchor to their run defense. He has 25 tackles, a high number for an interior defensive lineman. The Giants are allowing 96.6 rushing yards per game, which ranks 12th in the NFL. However, they surrendered 147 rushing yards to the Green Bay Packers on Monday. Linebacker Jonathan Casillas leads the team with 40 tackles.
RAVENS PASS DEFENSE: The Ravens continue to limit the number of big plays allowed as they've surrendered a league-low five passes for 25 yards or more. Their six interceptions tie their total from last year. The two blemishes have been not getting a consistent pass rush and struggling in the red zone. The Ravens have just 10 sacks and teams are scoring touchdowns on 77.8 of their red zone trips. Jimmy Smith should see a lot of Beckham.
GIANTS PASS DEFENSE: Despite doling out $95 million in contracts this offseason to edge rushers Jason Pierre-Paul and Olivier Vernon, the Giants have just four sacks all season. Pierre-Paul and Vernon, who play a ton of snaps, have two combined. The Giants didn't have an interception until last week, when Janoris Jenkins picked off Aaron Rodgers twice. Groin injuries to cornerbacks Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie and first-round pick Eli Apple have left the Giants extremely thin in the secondary.
RAVENS SPECIAL TEAMS: Punt coverage, normally a strength, is killing the Ravens. They've allowed long returns in back-to-back weeks, including an 85-yard touchdown return by the Washington Redskins' Jamison Crowder last Sunday. For the season, they've allowed more punt return yards than any team in the NFL. The special teams struggles could force head coach John Harbaugh to use more veterans on coverage teams. Return man Devin Hester Sr. has been extremely shaky.
GIANTS SPECIAL TEAMS: The struggling Ravens coverage teams will have to deal with Dwayne Harris, who is third in the NFL with a 28.7-yard kickoff return average, and also averages 9.2 yards on punt returns. Harris had two return touchdowns for the Giants last season. Veteran kicker Josh Brown is 9-of-10 on field-goal attempts this season with his only miss coming from beyond 50 yards. New York scored on a blocked field goal return earlier this season.
RAVENS INTANGIBLES: The firing of Trestman underscores the sense of urgency the Ravens are feeling to break a two-game losing streak. Dating back to last year, 19 of the Ravens' last 21 games have been decided by eight points or fewer, including all five this season. The Ravens have lost 11 of those and need to find a way to start making big plays in the fourth quarter. The Ravens have committed 19 penalties over the past two weeks. They are 2-0 on the road this season, but they haven't played particularly well.
GIANTS INTANGIBLES: The Giants have dropped three straight games and their frustration has come to the surface. Beckham's behavior and mindset is a weekly topic of conversation. Flowers shoved a reporter following the loss to the Packers last week. Manning, the two-time Super Bowl MVP, hasn't looked like himself. This is a huge game for the Giants, who play four of their next five games at home. The Giants negative-seven turnover ratio is the third worst in the league.
PREDICTION: Both of these teams bring losing streaks and struggling offenses into this game. Flacco and Manning look like mirror images of one another these days. They both have failed to unearth downfield passing games, and their accuracy on shorter passes has suffered. Both Super Bowl-winning quarterbacks also look like they have little confidence in their offensive lines. The struggles of the respective offenses could make for an ugly, low-scoring affair. The Ravens have the better defense, but the Giants have more playmakers on offense, and that should be the difference.