The resurgence of the ground attack is largely because of more physical
blocking and Chester Taylor's tackle-breaking ability and quickness.
This measure should allow the Ravens to control the clock and give the defense a breather. Plus, the Giants are susceptible to the run, ranking 26th in the NFL. New York allows 134.8 rushing yards per contest and sorely misses All-Pro defensive end Michael Strahan's presence.
Besides wanting to run the football for all of the benefits that entails, the Ravens might want to avoid the Giants' secondary. Although they have intercepted only 10 passes, led by rookie safety's Gibril Wilson's three, the Giants feature experience and talent at cornerback with Will Peterson and Will Allen.
They're both durable players. New York allows only 178.9 passing yards per game, ranking fifth in the NFL. When Baltimore looks to throw, expect tight end Todd Heap to be heavily involved in his first full game back after being limited to 25 snaps and three catches last week.
Key matchup: TE Todd Heap vs. SS Brent Alexander
Heap's superior athleticism and hands should serve him well against Alexander, a former Pittsburgh Steelers starter whom Baltimore used to exploit.
How the Ravens can win
1. Befuddle struggling rookie quarterback Eli Manning with blitz packages to force him into costly mistakes.
2. Run the football right down the throat of a soft Giants defense that ranks 26th against the run. It doesn't matter if it's Chester Taylor or Jamal Lewis, the Giants are that vulnerable without Michael Strahan.
3. When Manning isn't on the ground, break on the football quickly with an overload on tight end Jeremy Shockey with safety Ed Reed looking for his eighth interception of the season.
When the Giants have the football: Anticipate offensive coordinator John Hufnagel to heed the Greek chorus emanating from his skill players and loosen things up. They've lost five games in a row.
Tight end Jeremy Shockey, receiver Amani Toomer and even good-soldier running back Tiki Barber have all made their displeasure heard in the back pages of the New York tabloids. The line of scrimmage is stacked to stop Barber and the Giants haven't scored more than 14 points in any of their past four games. Why not air it out? Quickly, mind you, considering the fact that they've allowed 47 sacks.
Rookie quarterback Eli Manning has a live arm, but has completed only 38 of 92 passes (41.3 percent) for 489 yards, one touchdown, four interceptions and a 44.2 passer rating. He's been sacked eight times. In last week's 31-7 loss to the Washington Redskins, the Giants managed just 145 yards of offense. Something has to change, and emphasizing team strengths such as Shockey, Amani Toomer and Ike Hilliard appears to be the way to go. After a 5-4 start and a five-game collapse, what do they have to lose other than Tom Coughlin's legendary temper?
QB Eli Manning vs. S Ed Reed
Manning is the ideal remedy for the secondary's recent problems, and Reed is known for capitalizing on mistake-prone passers. Manning has averaged an interception every 23 attempts.
How the Giants can win
1. Run the football a lot, hitting edges with quick tailback Tiki Barber.
2. Isolate tight end Jeremy Shockey against smaller, slower safety Will Demps, avoiding Pro Bowl-bound Ed Reed.
3. After five consecutive losses, New York could always throw caution to the wind and attempt some gadget plays. Tom Coughlin isn't always as conservative as people think.
Aaron Wilson is the chief writer for RavensInsider.Com He is also the Ravens' reporter for the Carroll County Times in Westminster Maryland.
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