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Game of the Week: Giants at Ravens
A soiree in the Emerald City featuring San Francisco and Seattle may bestow an NFC West crown, while a showdown between Cincinnati and Pittsburgh will illuminate the race for a coveted AFC Wild Card spot. Yet there exists another battle that not only has implications for the fates of each team and their respective divisions, but rather, the entire NFL playoff picture. The added intrigue behind the New York Giants traveling to Baltimore to take on the Ravens serves as our WhatIfSports.com Game of the Week.
To say that either team is riding a wave of momentum would be a misnomer, as each squad is limping toward the finish line. The G-Men have lost four of their last six outings, including coming out on the business end of a 34-0 thumping by Atlanta last Sunday, while the Ravens enter licking their wounds following three consecutive defeats.
In truth, that number could be five, as Baltimore escaped a loss in San Diego thanks to a 4th-and-29 conversion from Ray Rice, and the Ravens didn't exactly take advantage of the absence of Ben Roethlisberger in the team's 13-10 victory in the Steel City. The lethargic showings correlated to the axe of offensive coordinator Cam Cameron last Monday, an unprecedented move for a roster sitting at first at this juncture of the season, especially since most point to the defensive side of the ball as the catalyst for the Ravens' woes. Injuries to Lardarius Webb, Ray Lewis and Terrell Suggs have not helped matters, but Baltimore enters this weekend conceding the third-most yards in the AFC and a pedestrian 21.9 points per contest. For a franchise built on its defensive prowess, Baltimore's bark has not lived up to the bite in 2012.
Not that the offense has been firing on all cylinders. In the midst of his fifth season under center, the much-maligned Joe Flacco has failed to develop as an effective signal caller, completing fewer than 60 percent of his pass attempts for the second consecutive campaign and continuing to showcase a vulnerable propensity with the pigskin. Though the offense employs one of the more complete backs in Rice, if "Average Joe" fails to raise his level of play as January draws near, John Harbaugh's crew will be looking at a quick playoff exit.
Of course, at least Harbaugh has a postseason berth secured. The Giants are notorious for putting their backs against the wall, but even for them, their current predicament might be too tough a hole to dig out of. While Washington, Dallas and New York hold the same record, the G-Men are on the outside looking in on the NFC East, slotted at third in the division. Worse, out of the four conference companies with eight wins vying for the final Wild Card position, the Giants lie in fourth.
Luckily for Tom Coughlin, his team is comprised of veterans who are not new to these dilemmas. His statistics this year tell a tale of regression, yet one would be hard-pressed to endorse a better candidate for cavaliering a comeback than Eli Manning, who has consistently proven his merits in the clutch. With Victor Cruz and Hakeem Nicks finally reaching full health, as well as a breath of fresh air in rookie running back David Wilson, Manning has all the necessary tools to pull off such a feat.
So who emerges victorious from this Week 16 encounter? According to the award-winning WhatIfSports.com simulation engine, the Ravens come out on top 51.3 percent of the time by an average margin of 25-24. For the rest of this week's predictions, check below:
Please note: The Browns-Broncos, Titans-Packers, Bills-Dolphins, Giants-Ravens, Chargers-Jets, Bears-Cardinals, Redskins-Eagles, Falcons-Lions and Patiots-Jaguars games were resimulated on 12/21 to account for injuries and roster updates.
NFL Week 16
|@ Denver Broncos||84.8||31||Simulate Game|
|@ Green Bay Packers||73.0||26||Simulate Game|
|@ Houston Texans||66.0||25||Simulate Game|
|@ Miami Dolphins||60.7||22||Simulate Game|
|@ Carolina Panthers||52.5||25||Simulate Game|
|New Orleans Saints||47.9||27||Boxscore|
|@ Dallas Cowboys||52.1||28||Simulate Game|
|New York Giants||48.7||24||Boxscore|
|@ Baltimore Ravens||51.3||25||Simulate Game|
|@ Pittsburgh Steelers||50.6||25||Simulate Game|
|St. Louis Rams||49.4||23||Boxscore|
|@ Tampa Bay Buccaneers||50.6||24||Simulate Game|
|San Diego Chargers||54.1||21||Boxscore|
|@ New York Jets||45.9||18||Simulate Game|
|San Francisco 49ers||57.6||17||Boxscore|
|@ Seattle Seahawks||42.4||14||Simulate Game|
|@ Arizona Cardinals||32.9||18||Simulate Game|
|@ Philadelphia Eagles||33.0||14||Simulate Game|
|@ Detroit Lions||30.3||22||Simulate Game|
|@ Kansas City Chiefs||24.1||18||Simulate Game|
|New England Patriots||90.6||29||Boxscore|
|@ Jacksonville Jaguars||9.4||13||Simulate Game|
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