By Samuel Njoku
Even after losing to Denver last Sunday, the Ravens secured a playoff spot for the 5th straight season. But Baltimore has aspirations of winning the AFC North. In their way stands a desperate New York Giants squad who is still fighting for a playoff spot of their own. The significance of two teams vying for a playoff spot has been an area of discussion for the media this week. Just not for Coach John Harbaugh.
“I really have not given their [Giants] playoff position one iota of thought,” stated Harbaugh on Wednesday. “It’s important for us to win this game. We have a job to do, and we need to be the best team we can be on Sunday.”
Baltimore seems to be more concerned with their three-game losing streak as opposed to the opposition’s playoff position. That’s a good mindset to have. Though the Ravens secured a playoff spot last week, they haven’t been playing like a playoff team. That’ll need to change or else their trip to the postseason will be a short one.
For Baltimore to succeed in this game, they’ll have to get Ray Rice involved in the offense. Analysts have been preaching that for most of the season. And as far as the Ravens coaching staff is concerned, it appears as though those words have fallen on deaf ears. Rice continues to be left out of the game plan on gameday. In the coaches’ defense, Rice has played poorly when given the opportunity for the past few games. That can be attested to the poor play of the offensive line. McKinnie told reporters that he expects to receive an “extended” look in practice this week. If he is added to the lineup, it could significantly restructure the look of the offensive line. Something that many believe could pay dividends for the Ravens offense.
“We want to be a lot better in the run game,” Rice said. “We definitely do. That’s something that I take pride in – our offensive line [takes pride in]. We want to be better. We want to execute, but we also don’t want to be stupid with our runs. We don’t want to take a nine or eight-man front and run the team into the defense.”
Defensively, the Ravens are starting to get a tad bit healthy. Baltimore hopes to regain the services of Ray Lewis, Bernard Pollard, and Dannell Ellerbe this week. Ellerbe stated on Wednesday that he was “close” to playing last week. That’s a good sign for their upcoming meeting with the Giants. Terrell Suggs looks like he’s getting healthy as he continues to practice without setbacks. If the defense can get healthy before the playoffs, it will be a significant boost for a defense that appears to be reeling. A win on Sunday would give the Ravens a division title, and give Baltimore the option of resting players for an additional week before Wild-Card Weekend.
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Samuel Njoku was born and raised in Baltimore, MD and is a graduate of the University of Maryland Eastern Shore. Samuel has covered the Ravens for Examiner.com since 2010. Prior to 2010, Samuel was an avid blogger and radio personality in Salisbury, MD. He can be reached for comments at SamuelN870@gmail.com. His work can be found on Examiner.com. You can also follow him on Twitter @Ravens_Examiner.