Originally written on Ravens Football Machine  |  Last updated 12/21/12
Alex Raskin of CBS Sports.com is a respected analyst who is unbiased toward New York sports teams. Still, I didn't expect Raskin to get on the Ravens bus for this one. This game to me is a pick'em. Both teams match up evenly across the board. Even their injury counts are eerily similar. I would even argue that the Giants have more motivation and need to win than the Ravens, who have already backed into the playoffs. Raskin calls for the Ravens to win big on Sunday...I mean really big. Here we can follow his reasoning:         Giants at Ravens -- Week 16 Where: M&T Bank Stadium, Baltimore, Md. (Shaw Sportexe Momentum Turf, outdoors) When: Sunday, 4:25 p.m. ET (Fox) Spread: Giants by 2 Forecast: Temperatures in the high 40s. Mostly sunny with winds out of the west at 10 mph. Records: Giants (8-6; NFC East 2-3), Ravens (9-5; AFC North 4-1) What Raskin thinks matters: A major reason the Giants have just 32 sacks so far this season is because they haven't been able to play with a lead much over the second half of the year. Logically, teams tend to pass more when they're playing from behind...therefore, less sack opportunities for the Giants as they have trailed in the score for most games. Making issues worse for the Giants has been their porous run defense, which has yielded 4.6 yards per carry (26th in the NFL). All of this points to one thing: The Giants need an early lead on Sunday. When New York plays with the lead, they don't have to worry about opposing running backs as much and they can let defensive ends Justin Tuck, Osi Umenyiora and Jason Pierre-Paul focus on rushing the passer. When they trail they're putting a lot of pressure on the defense to stop the run and they basically take the potency out of their own pass rush. Who Raskin thinks matters: A lot of eyes will be on RB Ahmad Bradshaw (knee/foot) if he's able to return this Sunday, but the real difference maker on offense remains WR Hakeem Nicks. Nicks admitted on Thursday that he and QB Eli Manning have been “a hair” off on their timing this year, but he thinks that's about to change. On Friday coach Tom Coughlin acknowledged that the Giants have had fewer big plays this year, and the absence of that “threat” has changed the way opposing defenses have played the Giants. If Nicks and Manning can get on the same page, things will open up for Bradshaw, WR Victor Cruz and TE Martellus Bennett, but for that to happen, Nicks needs to be feeling like his old self. Raskin's key matchups: Ravens LT Michael Oher will see both Umenyiora and Pierre-Paul (and possibly even DE/SLB Mathias Kiwanuka) on Sunday. The Ravens rank 15th in the NFL in passing attempts and 13th in sacks allowed, so there could be some opportunities for the Giants pass rush. Pierre-Paul (6.5 sacks) isn't having the same success he had last year (16.5 sacks), but defensive coordinator Perry Fewell insists the third-year end is playing very well. Even if Pierre-Paul doesn't get sacks, he is creating pressure and making things more difficult for opposing quarterbacks. Injuries of note: Tuck (shoulder) is questionable and did not practice at all this week, so we could see some movement along the Giants defense. Kiwanuka, Pierre-Paul or DE Adrian Tracy could all see themselves on the left side of the line at some point. Everyone else worked on Friday, including Bradshaw (knee/foot), Nicks (knee), RG Chris Snee (hip) and C David Baas (hip/shoulder). Coughlin said he expects Ravens LB Ray Lewis (biceps) to be active on Sunday. Ravens S Bernard Pollard (chest), LB Jameel McClain (neck--now ruled out) and RB Vonta Leach (ankle) are also battling injuries. Ravens WR Torrey Smith (head) has yet to take his baseline test. RB Bernard Pierce is also likely out with a concussion. Terrell Suggs is playing with one arm (biceps) on one good leg. Raskin's Inside Stuff: Giants' KR David Wilson came tumbling back to earth in last week's loss to the Falcons. After gaining 227 yards and a touchdown on four returns in Week 14, Wilson was held to just 66 yards on three returns in Atlanta. The obvious difference was that Falcons P Matt Bosher produced four touchbacks and sent three other offerings deep into the end zone. So, in the course of two weeks, the Giants' average starting field position went from their opponents' 49-yard line to their own 18. Of course, the second leg of that came in a dome. Baltimore plays outside, not inside a dome, but that hasn't stopped K Justin Tucker from ranking fifth in the NFL in touchbacks. The bottom line is, if Coughlin was expecting to be starting around midfield as the Giants did in Week 14, he's likely going to be disappointed on Sunday. All of this adds up to Raskin's prediction: Ravens 30, Giants 10. Wow. I think he's underestimating the injury situation for the Ravens. Baltimore's linebacking crew is a debilitated mess injury-wise, with the possible exception of Paul Kruger. And Raskin doesn't mention the injuries on the Ravens offensive line, which has really struggled to get any kind of good push in recent weeks. RG Marshal Yanda may give it a go (bad ankle). C Matt Birk is pretty banged up but will go. The Ravens are very thin at cornerback right now, too. Jimmy Smith (groin) is back but still not 100 percent. Unless the Ravens get up early on the Giants, something like 14-0 in the first quarter, I can't see Raskin's prediction coming true. I think it may well turn into a grind-it-out game to the end. I think the Ravens are a weaker team right now than Raskin realizes.  
GET THE YARDBARKER APP:
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45
MORE FROM YARDBARKER

NFLPA: NFL didn't respond to Tom Brady settlement offer

Tom Coughlin calls Jason Pierre-Paul situation a ‘fiasco’

Cole Hamels chose Rangers over Astros

Tom Brady lawsuit transferred from Minnesota to Manhattan

LeGarrette Blount failed conditioning test

LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?
GET THE DAILY NEWSLETTER:

Trent Richardson 'reclamation project not going so well'

Geno Smith laughed at being ranked last in QB poll

Penn State trash talks Notre Dame Twitter over 'Rudy'

Report: Aroldis Chapman unlikely to be traded

Mets’ trade for Carlos Gomez called off despite reports

Report: Rangers to acquire Cole Hamels from the Phillies

The indefensible Hulk Hogan

Terry Collins writes letter to widow of longtime Mets fan

Jets fans fly "Cheaters Look Up" banner over Patriots practice

Dodgers upgrade rotation in unexpected, intelligent way

For some NFL players, life begins at undrafted

NBA's Africa game: A tribute to Hakeem Olajuwon

Top storyline for each NFL team heading into training camp

Texas QB commit has great anti-Oklahoma T-shirt

WATCH: Tim Tebow does monster leg workout

Farrell: Sandoval's conditioning 'continues to be addressed'

Revis won't wear Super Bowl ring around Jets teammates

Former NBAer Vin Baker now works at Starbucks

NFL News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

By clicking "Sign Me Up", you have read and agreed to the Fox Sports Digital Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. You can opt out at any time. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.
the YARDBARKER app
Get it now!
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

The indefensible Hulk Hogan

Cole Hamels chose Rangers over Astros

Can Preller fix the mess in San Diego?

Next summer's top 10 NBA free agents

Who is the NL's new top shortstop?

Cardinals HC Bruce Arians calls Jen Welter a 'trailblazer'

Mets still act like a small-market team

Tom Brady: I did nothing wrong

NFL upholds Tom Brady's suspension, legal battle likely

Cardinals hire first female NFL coach

Larry Bird: Michael Jordan would kill me in 1-on-1 now

Seau family: HOF broke their word

Today's Best Stuff
For Publishers
Company Info
Help
Follow Yardbarker