Lamar Jackson
ESNY Graphic, Getty Images

What are the major storylines heading into Sunday’s matchup between the New York Giants and Baltimore Ravens? 

Jason Leach

For only the sixth time ever, the New York Giants will face the Baltimore Ravens in the regular season. Sunday’s matchup may prove to be the most significant in the history of the series as both teams are currently trying to fight back into playoff contention.

What are the key storylines to watch heading into this game?

Will we see a healthy Daniel Jones?

Jones missed his second game of the season last week due to an injured hamstring and ankle and he was limited at Wednesday practice. With Thursday being the Giants last practice of the week, Jones’ status for Sunday remains unclear.

Jones’ health is critical if the Giants are going to run a relatively full playbook; RPOs have become an important part of the game plan when Jones can move. If Jones is limited or if Colt McCoy gets the start, the Giants won’t have as many options for the offense.

Can the Giants stop Lamar Jackson’s running?

Containing Jackson is the most important — and difficult — job for any defense facing the Ravens. Baltimore comes in the top-ranked rushing offense in the NFL (172.7 yards per game) and their MVP quarterback is the team’s leading rusher (828 yards).

In earlier matchups against mobile quarterbacks, this season the Giants defense allowed Russell Wilson and Kyler Murray to average 46 yards on the ground from the quarterback position. Respectfully, neither of them is the runner Jackson is, so the defense will need to button up if they’re going to slow down the Ravens’ attack.

Will the Giants pass rush come back to life?

Of course, the Giants will have to contain the running of Jackson to open the door for a pass rush to show signs of life. However, when the Giants forced Seattle into passing situations in Week 13 they sacked Wilson five times.

Unfortunately, the Giants have two sacks in the two games since then.

Baltimore’s offensive line is vulnerable because of injuries; tackle Ronnie Stanley is out for the season, guard Tyre Phillips is questionable due to a concussion, and center Matt Skura is also questionable with a back injury.

Kyler Fackrell has been designated to return from IR (calf) and if he plays it will help the pass rush. But the Giants front seven has to contain Jackson and make life difficult for him.

Would a loss seal Dave Gettleman’s fate?

A Giants loss on Sunday would make this the fourth consecutive season the team has reached double-digit losses. A loss coupled with a Washington victory would also eliminate the Giants from postseason contention.

But is that enough to cost general manager Dave Gettleman his job? With the prospect of another top 10 pick in the NFL Draft looming, it may be time to have a different voice making the selection.

There are plenty of very valid excuses this year, however. The league got a late/different start because of COVID-19 and then Saquon Barkley was lost for the season early on. Ownership may give Gettleman one more offseason to right the ship.

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