Giants Week 16 Opponent Preview | Baltimore Ravens
The Giants will travel to Baltimore in Week 16, looking for the organization's first road win against the Ravens.
On paper, it will be one of the Giants' toughest games of the season as they will have to face reigning league MVP, Lamar Jackson. Jackson achieved this feat just one season after sitting behind former Ravens Super Bowl MVP quarterback Joe Flacco.
Giants quarterback Daniel Jones had a Super Bowl MVP mentor of his own in Eli Manning last year, but now in 2020, Jones will take the reigns similar to Jackson did in Baltimore last year en-route to an MVP season.
The similarities between Jones and Jackson don't stop there. Like Jones in his rookie season, Jackson struggled with ball security. Jackson fumbled 13 times in his first eight starts after taking over for Flacco midway through the 2018 season. Meanwhile, Jones fumbled 12 times in his first eight starts, nearly identical to Jackson.
Jackson was not quite able to eliminate his ball-security issue in 2019, but he did cut it down significantly as his fumbles dropped to just nine over a full 16 games and didn't deter him from winning MVP honors.
Jones will look to emulate Jackson's second-year improvement in 2020 with a similar yet not identical skill set. Both Jones and Jackson have impressive mobility for the quarterback position, but Jones doesn't quite possess Jackson's elite speed and agility as a runner.
However, Jones boasted the superior passing accuracy as a rookie, with a higher completion percentage and greater overall passing averages in yards and touchdowns than Jackson's rookie year.
Whether Jones can replicate Jackson's second-year jump is a bigger question. Unlike Jackson, Jones has had to learn a new offensive scheme in his second season, virtually at that.
Jones will also have to adjust to a new offensive line that will likely see rookie Andrew Thomas at one of the tackles and a new center in Spencer Pulley. Meanwhile, Jackson had the luxury of playing behind one of the best offensive lines in the NFL last season, with three Pro Bowlers and a year of prior chemistry as a unit in 2018.
By The Numbers
- Ravens lead all-time series 6-4
- Ravens lead all-time postseason series 1-0 (Super Bowl XXXV)
- First meeting: September 14, 1997, Ravens 24 at Giants 23
- Last Meeting: October 16, 2016, Ravens 23 at Giants 27
- Largest Giants margin of victory: November 16, 2008, Ravens 10 at Giants 30
- Largest Ravens margin of victory: January 28, 2001, (Super Bowl XXXV) Ravens 34 at Giants 7
Key Matchup: Giants defensive front seven vs Ravens rushing offense
The Ravens set the NFL record for team rushing yards in 2019 with 3,296, breaking a mark set in a very different era.
The Giants will have to face that offense in front of the Baltimore home crowd in an outdoor December environment. However, the Ravens' rushing unit won't be in the same form from last year, as Pro-Bowl guard Marshall Yanda announced his retirement this offseason.
Yanda was an All-Pro second-team guard for the Ravens in 2019 and was one of the team's best run-blocking guards for over a decade. His absence will certainly leave a gap and disrupt the chemistry of the Ravens' rushing attack.
Meanwhile, the Giants defensive line will be retaining its core players from 2019--Dalvin Tomlinson, Leonard Williams, Dexter Lawrence, and BJ Hill. They also added Austin Johnson.
While the Giants defense struggled against the run in 2019, finishing 20th in the league, the interior defensive line improved in stuffing the run toward the end of the season.
After Williams was acquired via trade, the defensive line trio of Tomlinson, Williams, and rookie Dexter Lawrence combined for 82 run defense stops of zero or negative yards as the run defense steadily increased over the last few games of the season.
The defensive line will also have some reinforcements behind it with the addition of inside linebacker Blake Martinez via free agency and the projected return of linebacker Ryan Connelly from an ACL injury last season.
Martinez will give the Giants a huge boost to stuff the run from the second level. Pro Football Focus graded Martinez's run defense as his best asset in 2017, and he's been one of the best in the NFL at closing off avenues for running backs in recent years.
If nothing else, the Giants' defense can make a statement if they can play a solid game against the Ravens' high-octane rushing attack, including Jackson, the Ravens' rushing yardage leader last season.