November 2, 2008
Football games aren't played on paper, meaning past reputations and statistics are largely irrelevant on any given Sunday.
Yes, the Giants' defense is headlined by formidable pass rushers in Jason Pierre-Paul, Justin Tuck, Osi Umenyiora and Mathias Kiwanuka. All are excellent football players and athletes.
Lately, though, their production hasn't matched their capabilities.
Hampered by injuries and extra blocking attention from offensive linemen cognizant of their front seven, the Giants simply aren't getting to the quarterback the way they normally do.
A year ago, the Giants tied for second in the NFL with 48 sacks. They've dipped to 32 sacks this year.
Pierre-Paul has plummeted from 16 1/2 sacks last season to 6 1/2 this year.
Pierre-Paul, Tuck, Umenyiora and Kiwanuka have combined for a total of 18 sacks.
That doesn't mean the Ravens aren't vulnerable Sunday.
The Giants are capable of beating offensive tackles Michael Oher and Kelechi Osemele and generating heat on quarterback Joe Flacco.
Against the Atlanta Falcons, the Giants were stonewalled as tight end Tony Gonzalez was kept in to block and help out the offensive line against Pierre-Paul.
The Ravens could try to follow a similar strategy against the ultra-athletic defensive end. They're expected to get back Ed Dickson on Sunday from a hyperextended knee, which would give the offense back its top blocking tight end.