4:25 PM ET, December 23, 2012
M&T Bank Stadium, Baltimore, MD
Neither club, however, enters Sunday's matchup in Baltimore with much momentum.
The Ravens will be trying to avoid their first four-game slide in five seasons while the inconsistent Giants were shut out last week for the first time in seven campaigns.
Baltimore (9-5) has clinched its fifth straight trip to the postseason, but its losing streak has left the AFC North still up for grabs. The Ravens, whose last four-game slide was a nine-game skid in 2007, can clinch the division with a win this week.
"We've got work to do," coach John Harbaugh said. "We're going to fight like crazy to become the team we're capable of becoming. We're not that team yet. It's a long season, but all of our goals and all of our dreams are squarely in front of us."
New York (8-6) has led the NFC East for most of the year, but now is tied with Dallas and Washington. The Giants fell 34-0 at Atlanta last weekend for their first shutout loss since a 23-0 playoff defeat to Carolina in 2006.
The Giants will gain at least a wild-card spot if they win their final two games. In order to win the division, they need two victories and one loss apiece by the Cowboys and Redskins.
"There are a lot of teams in this situation that are very similar to us," quarterback Eli Manning said. "They've got to win out to make it to the playoffs. Maybe they won't make it to the playoffs. We're in a good position and I think you have to be excited about this position."
Baltimore was on a 16-game home win streak before losing its last two at M&T Bank Stadium, falling 34-17 to Denver last week. The Ravens have won 12 straight at home over NFC opponents.
Injuries continue to pile up, although linebacker Terrell Suggs (torn right biceps) and cornerback Jimmy Smith (abdomen) returned against the Broncos. Ray Lewis remains sidelined with a torn right triceps and inside linebacker Jameel McClain will miss the remainder of the season with a bruised spinal cord.
"We had some injuries recently, which hurt us; we lost some tight games in overtime that could've gone the other way in a heartbeat," Harbaugh said. "We have to become the best team we can be over the next couple weeks."
The Broncos game was the first since Jim Caldwell replaced the fired Cam Cameron as offensive coordinator. Joe Flacco's two meaningless fourth-quarter touchdowns to tight end Dennis Pitta only prevented him from finishing with less than 200 yards passing for the third straight game.
"It starts with the quarterback, and that's the position that is looked at," Flacco said. "You have to go look at yourself and see what you can do better in order to make everybody else around you a little bit better and in order to get our team to win."
The Ravens could take the pressure off Flacco if Ray Rice can get untracked. Rice was held to 38 yards last week, but the 1,000-yard back now faces a Giants' rushing defense allowing 123.7 yards per game.
While Flacco's struggles have called into question his future with Baltimore, Manning is secure in New York as a two-time Super Bowl MVP.
Still, there have been numerous puzzling performances from Manning this season. He has failed to throw a touchdown four times in the last seven games, and mixed in two first-half interceptions against the Falcons.
"Well, it's our whole football team," coach Tom Coughlin said. "Hopefully, because of the position that Eli is in, he's going to lead us out of the inconsistencies."
Bradshaw took part in practice on a limited basis Friday, and Coughlin said he was encouraged about having the running back.
"As long as he continues to progress the way he has, he should be able to go," Coughlin said. "He brings a lot to the table in terms of fire and energy. Those are the most important factors. Knowing him, I am not surprised that he's made his way back."
Although the Giants are in the same position as they were last season when they were 7-7 and needed to win their final two games to reach the playoffs, they know there is no guarantee for similar heroics a year later.
"Last year is a totally different year, totally different experience," safety Antrel Rolle said. "If we get ourselves caught up on what took place last year, we're going to find ourselves in a hole we don't want to be in."
The Ravens have taken three of four all-time meetings, with their 34-7 victory in Super Bowl XXXV the most notable.
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• Get Eli on track: The Giants' passing attack was ineffective (159 yards) in Week 15. There were few big plays downfield and zero touchdowns. Baltimore played a good dose of sub package (nickel and dime) schemes versus Peyton Manning and the Broncos in Week 15, but will likely play more base versus New York. It will be important to get Eli Manning on track in this contest, and we should expect Giants offensive coordinator Kevin Gilbride to incorporate high-percentage passes (screen, option routes, shallow crossers, quick slants and out routes) early in the game.
|Avg Points Allowed||22.5||21.4|
Team Averages & NFL Ranks
|TEAM OFFENSE||TEAM||PER GAME AVERAGE|
|TEAM DEFENSE||TEAM||PER GAME AVERAGE|
|Pass Yds Allowed||NYG|
|Rush Yds Allowed||NYG|
Head to Head Matchups (Since 2001)
|Baltimore leads 2-1|
|Nov 16, 2008||NYG 30, BAL 10|
|Dec 12, 2004||NYG 14, @BAL 37|
Mario Manningham caught 15 touchdowns on throws outside the painted numbers from 2009 to 2011, second most on the Giants to Hakeem Nicks (17). Without Manningham this season, Eli Manning has struggled on those throws, with just as many touchdowns as interceptions (7). Manning had 20 touchdowns and seven interceptions in 2011 outside the numbers.[+]
Eli Manning Passing Outside the Painted Numbers - Last 4 Seasons
Eli Manning threw 10 of his league-leading 18 touchdown passes against five or more rushers in 2011 in the fourth quarter. This season, Manning has six touchdowns against such pressure, with only two coming in the fourth.[+]
Eli Manning Facing 5+ Pass Rushers in 4th Quarter - Last 2 Seasons
Joe Flacco is one of three quarterbacks completing fewer than 50 percent of his attempts against five or more pass rushers this season and has struggled against such pressure over the last two seasons. Flacco has 10 touchdowns facing five-plus since the start of 2011 after throwing 11 in each of the 2010 and 2009 seasons.[+]
Joe Flacco Facing 5+ Pass Rushers - Career
There are 62 instances this season of a quarterback targeting a wide receiver at least 50 times this season. Of those combos, none have a worst completion percentage than Joe Flacco and Torrey Smith (44.9 percent). Smith's average target depth has been 18.4 yards this season, highest in the NFL.[+]
Worst Comp Pct by QB-WR Combination - This Season
ESPN Stats & Information