Ravens host Giants in matchup of teams chasing playoff berths
The Baltimore Ravens look to continue their late-season charge toward a playoff spot when they host the New York Giants on Sunday.
The Ravens (9-5) are taking aim at a fourth straight victory as they navigate what is essentially a four-team derby to claim the three AFC wild-berths.
Baltimore sits outside the playoff race and will need some help over the final two weeks to land a spot. The Miami Dolphins are also 9-5 but hold the tiebreaker edge over Baltimore for the final spot.
“Being honest, we’re just going to let it take care of itself,” Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson said. “We’re not focused on the outside, or other teams and stuff like that. We’re focused on ourselves, because we can’t peak too early and we can’t peak too soon at nothing right now.
“We’ve just got to focus on the Giants, because that’s a good team that we’re going to face on Sunday. It’s about finishing for us right now.”
Left tackle Orlando Brown Jr., who was named a Pro Bowler for the second time earlier this week, doesn’t want to hear anything about scenarios or how oddsmakers rate Baltimore’s chances.
“My focus is on the Giants and going out there and playing the best game of my career,” Brown said. “We understand the playoffs are there, and getting there is important. But it’s important that we win the next game.”
No disputes there as a loss to the Giants (5-9) would leave the Ravens in a dire situation heading into the final week.
New York is one game behind the Washington Football Team in the NFC East but has scored just 13 total points while losing its last two games.
Colt McCoy filled in at quarterback in the 20-6 loss to the Cleveland Browns in Week 15, but the Giants are hopeful starter Daniel Jones will return Sunday.
Jones is dealing with hamstring and ankle injuries and was a limited participant in Wednesday’s practice. Coach Joe Judge said he would like to see how Jones progresses before making a decision.
“Look, in a perfect world, I’d love to have an answer as soon as possible,” Judge said. “I’m not going to go ahead and set a time mark on this. But we’ll come out of Friday, Friday after practice, with some kind of an answer.”
Jones said he is itching to play after sitting out two of the past three weeks. He sees time running out on the season and feels the urgency.
“I’m doing everything I can to get back out there,” Jones said. “Every week you want to play. I did all I could last week, and that’s certainly my approach this week. I’m working as hard as I can. I really do want to be out there with the guys and go after a win on Sunday.”
Tight end Evan Engram (calf) also was limited on Wednesday. Engram, who has a team-leading 54 receptions, was named a Pro Bowler for the first time earlier this week.
Standout linebacker Blake Martinez (128 tackles) leads the New York defense, and the big question on his mind is how to stop Jackson, who has passed for 2,461 yards and 21 touchdowns while also rushing for 828 yards and seven scores.
“Oh yeah, he’s one of those special guys, and I think everyone knows it,” Martinez said. “It’s one of those things you obviously as a competitor, for me, you want to go against guys like that. But it just adds the extra heightened awareness to make sure that you’re extremely perfect in all fundamental aspects of your game going into that.”
Baltimore’s defensive stars include cornerback Marlon Humphrey, who leads the NFL with eight forced fumbles and was named a Pro Bowler for the second time.
Defensive end Calais Campbell (calf) and cornerback Marcus Peters (calf) are among the nine Ravens who missed practice on Wednesday.
No matter who is cleared to play, Baltimore’s focus will remain on itself as it looks to notch a pivotal victory.
“The focus really for us is going to be on taking care of our business,” Ravens coach John Harbaugh said. “It doesn’t matter what anybody else does if we don’t take care of our job. Our job is to win. We’ve got to find a way to win this week. We can control how we play.”
–Field Level Media