The Sporting News labels Sunday's Ravens-Giants game its 'Desperation Game of the Week,' and indeed, more than one pundit describes one, or both, of these teams as desperate. The Ravens have lost three straight but have already clinched a playoff spot. Not so the Giants, who are in a three-way tie for the NFC East lead and have clinched nothing. Most of the national media see a Giants win, which says a lot about the Ravens of late as well: These writers fully expect the Ravens to lose, at home, to a team that was beaten 34-0 last week.
Here is how some of the national media see the game:
Mike Florio, Pro Football Talk: Giants 27, Ravens 20
"The Ravens are desperate for a win. The Giants are more desperate for a win. Even though Eli Manning’s Giants have lost to two teams that Peyton Manning’s Broncos played previously and beat, the third time needs to be a charm, or Eli will have no chance to chase his third ring."
Elliott Harrison, NFL.com: Giants 31, Ravens 24
"Perhaps it's my non-East Coast bias, but my sense is that the New York Giants rebound this week on the road in Baltimore. It won't be easy. Eli Manning's inconsistency at this stage of the season is mind-boggling. There is no question the Baltimore Ravens are exposable on the back end of the defense, but if weather conditions and Manning's ineffectiveness are more than just intermittent factors, then New York is done. The running game has been hit or miss, and Ahmad Bradshaw has a knee issue. Meanwhile, Joe Flacco must play better than he did at home last week versus Denver. If he doesn't, the Ravens are done, especially with a defense that's struggled all season and currently sits at 26th in the NFL."
Vinnie Iyer, Sporting News: Giants 19, Ravens 16
"Both teams are having unfamiliar struggles, with sluggish offenses, defenses not making enough plays and injuries. Baltimore has clinched a playoff berth, but the Giants must win out to get back into the field. That would make the Giants a tad more desperate because the Ravens can lock up the No. 4 seed and AFC North title against the Bengals in Week 17. Expect a low-scoring game decided by one or two playmakers. The Ravens continue to not feed Ray Rice enough and likely will be without top speed receiver Torrey Smith (concussion). Eli Manning has a little more pop around him than Joe Flacco does. Sparked by rookie back David Wilson, the Giants will steal a tight one late."
Peter King, SI.com: Giants 24, Ravens 20
"Eli Manning has to try to save the Giants' season in the stadium where he had the worst nightmare of his life. In his fourth NFL start, in his rookie year, the Ray Lewis- and Ed Reed-led Ravens defense embarrassed him into a 4-of-18, 27-yard afternoon. They taunted Manning, and it shook him up. Manning, last winter, told me the game was "a nightmare. A disaster. They saw me sweating it, and they took advantage of me, to say the least." For the Giants to be a January force again, Manning has to get his redemption Sunday."
Pete Prisco, CBSSports.com: Giants 27, Ravens 21
"This is a must-win for the Giants, but they are playing back-to-back road games, which is tough. Baltimore has lost three consecutive games and isn't playing well at all. The Giants are good in this spot, where they have to have it. Watch them here."
Jerry Rice, ESPN: Giants (no score given)
"I just can't trust Flacco and that offense. And I think that defense, with so many injuries, right now, they're a little suspect."
Michael David Smith, Pro Football Talk: Giants 24, Ravens 13
"Both of these teams once looked like locks to win their divisions and now look desperate. Former Giants coach Bill Parcells liked to say that in games like this, you go with the more desperate team. That’s the Giants, who probably need to win out to make the playoffs."