It’s been a tumultuous season for both the New York Giants and Baltimore Ravens, both teams that have had their share of struggles and endured criticism in recent weeks.
The Giants have exchanged wins and losses each week since their Week 11 bye, and overall have won two of their last six contests. The most recent loss came in the form of a 34-0 shutout complements of the Atlanta Falcons.
The loss downgraded New York out of the playoff picture and creating a three-way tie atop the NFC East. The Washington Redskins assumed the No. 4 seed in the bracket, with Dallas and New York on the outside looking in.
Baltimore has dropped three in a row, including a 34-17 loss to the visiting Denver Broncos, of course headed by Eli Manning brother’s, Peyton. Earlier this season, the Ravens snapped a 15-game home winning streak to the Steelers. Still, they are 9-0 at M&T Bank Stadium against NFC foes.
The greatest concern in Baltimore revolves around the offense. After losing to the Redskins, offensive coordinator Cam Cameron was fired and replaced with longtime Colts quarterback coach Jim Caldwell.
Baltimore mustered just 278 total yards of offense in their loss to Denver. Running back Ray Rice carried the ball just a dozen times. Offensive struggles in the midst a three-game skid has createda sense of urgency in the Charm City.
“We’re all being tested right now. It tests our leaders and our locker room, but we’re a tight group. We’ll all look into the mirror and see what each of us can do to get that next win. We’re a 9-5 team right now, but it kind of feels like 0-14 after losing the last three,” quarterback Joe Flacco said.
“We believe we’re a tough team with tough guys and guys
with character. I think everyone will see that over the next few weeks and beyond that into the playoffs. It’s going to take toughness. It’s going to take putting these losses behind us. It’s going to take us playing better and moving forward.”
The feeling, of course, is mutual.
When the Giants travel to Baltimore Sunday, their playoff lives will be at stake. New York needs to win out in order to make the post-season.
Big Blue has been in this kind of situation in the past, so perhaps the weight on their collective shoulders is a bit lighter than it would be for other teams.
Still, it’s a “win or go home” mentality. Giants head coach Tom Coughlin believes hope will be the determining factor in the team’s run to the playoffs.
“‘Hope’ is the word. ‘Hope’ is a nice word. If you have that, and you have a circumstance which is obviously dismal and extremely disappointing, and when you put your heart and soul in it, it’s a heavy burden,” Coughlin said.
“When you create the scenario of hope, it hopefully is going to be an uplifting thing that when we do come back on Wednesday that we realize where we are there’s a little bounce in our step and we get back to work.”
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