Print and Go Back ESPN.com: New York Giants [Print without images]

Saturday, December 22, 2012
Next-Level Preview: Giants at Ravens

By Michael Bonzagni, Evan Kaplan and Kimberly Meyer | ESPN Stats & Info

The Giants head to Baltimore on Sunday for a must-win game against the Ravens that will have major playoff implications. The Giants are coming off of a 34-0 loss to the Falcons in Week 15, in which they were shut out for the first time since Dec. 1, 1996. Eli Manning threw an interception on his first pass of the game and never recovered, recording no touchdowns, and a Total QBR of 4.8, his lowest QBR in any game during the last five seasons.

The Giants are facing a Ravens team that has lost three games in a row, including a 34-17 home loss to the Broncos last week. The Giants will try to win on the road for the first time in four games, and may need to do so to make the playoffs. Here are some areas to keep an eye on Sunday:

• Eli Manning has struggled in the Giants' last four road games, throwing one touchdown and five interceptions, en route to posting a Total QBR of 47.3. In the first six weeks of the season, Manning had a Total QBR of 79.2 on the road, which ranked fifth in the league. But in the Giants last eight games Manning has not found the same success away from MetLife Stadium, and the Giants have won one of their last four road games. Overall, Manning’s Total QBR of 63.7 this season on the road is on pace to be his lowest since 2008 (54.5).

Jason Pierre-Paul hasn’t been the same player he was last season, and the Giants’ pass rush has struggled because of that. A disrupted dropback measures how many times a defensive player records a sack, defends a pass (including batted balls at the line of scrimmage) or gets an interception. Last season, Pierre-Paul disrupted 24.5 dropbacks, second to only Jared Allen and had 16.5 sacks (fourth most in the league). Pierre-Paul has not had a sack since Week 9 against the Steelers and has only 6.5 sacks this season, which is tied for 34th most in the league. Through 15 weeks this season, Pierre-Paul has seven fewer sacks, four fewer passes defended and ten fewer dropbacks disrupted than he had through the first 15 weeks in 2011.

• Fortunately for the Giants’ under-performing pass rush, they face a Ravens offensive line Sunday that has struggled to protect Joe Flacco of late. Flacco has been sacked 13 times in his last four games, tied for fifth-most in the league during that span. Last week against the Broncos, Flacco was sacked or under duress on 32.6 percent of his dropbacks, his highest percentage in a game since Week 3 of 2011 against the Rams. Flacco has been sacked 14 times this season when defenses send five or more pass rushers (tied for second most in the league) accompanied by a 29.8 QBR, which ranks 31st among 37 qualified quarterbacks.

• Pressuring Flacco will be very important because the Giants' pass defense has struggled this season, allowing the fifth-most yards through the air (3,779) and the most 30+ yard passing plays (25). They have been particularly bad on throws more than 10 yards downfield, allowing a 95.2 Total QBR, 13.8 yards per attempt (highest in the league) and a 54.9 completion percentage (second-highest in the league).