Big Blue set for Saints boost
Our expert David John suggests backing the New York Giants on the handicap against New Orleans on Sunday.
- Related Content
There is less than 40 miles between these two but very little in the way of a historical local rivalry to add some extra spice to a crucial clash for both outfits.
The Redskins are on a three-game roll which has vaulted them straight back into the race for the NFC East while the Ravens will be keen to move on swiftly from a last-gasp loss to arch AFC North rivals Pittsburgh.
The spotlight will once again fall mostly on the opposing quarterbacks and their respective efforts will have a huge bearing on the outcome.
"He is a stud," was Baltimore running back Ray Rice's description of Robert Griffin III and the Redskins rookie has really galvanised a franchise that has spent many a season drifting along in the doldrums.
He has already broken Cam Newton's record - set just last year - for rushing yards by a rookie quarterback with four games to play while his team's recent winning run has seen him complete over 73 percent of his passes with nine touchdowns and just one interception.
Fellow first-year running back Alfred Morris has also been a hugely pleasant surprise as he comes off back-to-back 100-yard displays in what has been a fantastic introduction to the pro ranks.
It adds up to meaningful football in December and with Washington's three recent wins against their NFC East rivals, they will now look to carry over that form to a non-divisional team - and a pretty darned good one at that.
A win for the 9-3 Ravens will see them secure a play-off berth again but it is the form on the road of their quarterback Joe Flacco - although they are only a stone's throw from their own patch - that remains an issue.
Flacco's career has been more high than low for certain but his inconsistency away from Baltimore has once again been a talking point. At home, his passer rating is over 100. On the road it slumps to 70.2.
He has been sacked 18 times in road games while that figure is just 11 at M&T Bank Stadium and the dowturn is not just limited to Flacco - Rice has seven touchdowns at home compared to one on the road.
So can the Baltimore offense show up sufficiently? A lot rests with Flacco as an ailing defense that could now have end Terrell Suggs potentially sidelined as well is likely to have its hands full.
They rank 23rd in the league against the pass and keeping RGIII contained may not be quite enough as he has shown the ability to accurately find his targets from the pocket as well.
A fit-again Pierre Garcon gives RGIII the chance to stretch the Ravens secondary and the former Baylor man has shown enough savvy already to know not to challenge the timeless Ed Reed at safety.
So I just think the hosts can edge this and a bet on them giving up a solitary point on the handicap with Coral is the suggestion.
Let's not dither around here - the Giants look a good bet in this one.
Nothing ever seems to be straightforward for the reigning Super Bowl champions and a narrow defeat last week to Washington left head coach Tom Coughlin in a cranky mood on Tuesday.
He was cross at his team allowing a divisional rival back into the race for the NFC East. He was cross that a team where discipline is strongly preached committed nine penalties. He was cross that his offense had a number of strong drives but failed to come away with touchdowns.
That is Coughlin all over though - and you can bet that his veterans will give him exactly the response he wants.
This is just the sort of game where the Giants have shown time and again that they can rise to the occasion. They have not had a particularly happy recent history against the Saints with three losses from four meetings in the Coughlin era at a combined aggregate of 127-58.
Two of those defeats have come on the slick artificial turf of the Suprdome and the Big Blue have been relishing the opportunity "to get them at our place".
The Saints are on the cusp of elimination from the post-season and another loss would be just about curtains for a team that has never really come to terms with the suspension of head coach Sean Payton at the start of the season.
Quarterback Drew Brees has tried his best to rally the troops from on the field but a sketchy defense has allowed too many teams to have their own way with them on too many occasions.
Brees himself has thrown 16 interceptions in a bid to try and force the issue and although he is 4-0 throughout his career with 11 touchdowns and no interceptions against the Giants, the pass rush he now faces is going to be licking its lips at this opportunity after being given the run around last week by RGIII.
Think back a few weeks and the Giants were abject against Cincinnati before the bye week. A quiet word or two from Coughlin and they came back and took apart Green Bay in clinical fashion.
This looks a similar set of circumstances and I fully expect the hosts to come out firing on all cylinders.