The New York Giants have shocked the NFL world through five weeks, going 4-1 with wins against teams like the Tennessee Titans (3-2) and Green Bay Packers (3-2) to boot. Still, despite their impressive record, the Giants are viewed in a mostly negative light by the NFL elite. The G-Men head into their Week 6 matchup at home against the Baltimore Ravens as six-point underdogs.
It seems bettors are noticing the disrespect N.Y. is facing, as for the second week in a row, the Giants are the biggest underdog whom bettors believe will win outright. According to OddsChecker US, 75 percent of bets on the Ravens-Giants moneyline have gone in favor of the G-Men.
I’m perplexed at which side I lean. On one hand, New York hasn’t lost to the Ravens at home since 2001. In fact, the Giants have won their past two home meetings against the Ravens by an average of 12 points. That said, Lamar Jackson has never lost a start to an NFC East opponent. NOT ONCE! (He’s 12-2 against the Conference). And that includes a 27-13 victory at home against Daniel Jones and Big Blue in 2020.
The most reasonable thing to do would be to look up the matchups. Obviously, the Giants’ secondary has been well above average this year, allowing the ninth-fewest yards per pass attempt on the season (6.3) — better than the likes of the New England Patriots, L.A. Chargers, and Packers. However, Big Blue’s run defense has been the seventh-worst in the NFL, allowing five yards per carry. Baltimore is also allowing five yards per carry, though. Basically, the first team that is forced into passing more often is going to have a harder time scoring. It should be a battle of attrition with both teams opting to run the ball heavily and control the clock, forcing their adversaries to pass and hoping either Danny Dimes or Jackson makes a mistake and gives their team great field position.
That’s where the Giants have the edge. The G-Men are sixth in the NFL in time of possession in 2022. The Ravens, despite being one of the most run-heavy teams in the NFL — 23rd in pass play percentage — are actually a pretty mediocre team when it comes to time of possession. Baltimore holds the ball for an average of 30 minutes and 17 seconds per game — good for 15th in the NFL. If the Giants want to win, they’ll need Saquon Barkley to drain the clock over and over and over. I wouldn’t be surprised if New York holds the ball for 40 minutes in this game.
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On the other side, Baltimore needs to fight fire with fire. Think about last week’s professional football contest between the Giants of New York and the Packers of Green Bay. The Packers were leading 20-10 at the half. Green Bay ran the ball 12 times in the first half. The team was winning. Now, all the Pack needed to do was run the clock out. Just control the ball, don’t turn it over, and you’ll return stateside with a 4-1 record. How many times do you think Green Bay ran the ball in the second half? Eight times. In 25 plays, albeit only 10 of which came while the Packers were winning or tied — but even then, they only ran the ball three times — the Packers ran the ball on less than a third of their plays. That’s not including the plays that resulted in a penalty either. The ratio would be even worse if that were the case.
The Giants just wore the Packers’ defense down. The Packers ran 25 plays in the second half. Big Blue ran 39 (not including the intentional safety). Time of possession leaned heavily in New York’s favor and that’s exactly what it wanted. The Ravens can’t allow the same fate to befall them. Greg Roman needs to be smarter than Adam Stenavich was, and based on style of play, I imagine Baltimore will have the opportunity to do so. As long as the Ravens avoid rushing into a high-tempo offense and making bone-headed mistakes in the name of keeping the Giants from making substitutions or changing their personnel, then they’ll have a good shot at winning.
Baltimore should win this game. In terms of talent, the Ravens blow the G-Men out of the water like they were a whale breaching the surface for air. However, it’s hard to bet against the Giants right now. They are so good at making their opponents play their game, and they play it better than most. I’m not sure New York will win, but I’d feel pretty damn good taking the points in this one.