The Giants opened this week as 10.5-point road underdogs to the Baltimore Ravens who are coming off a dominant 40-14 victory over the Jacksonville Jaguars. Baltimore is in the midst of a heated race at the top of the AFC North divisional race as well as the AFC wild card race and need to win both of their remaining games to have a chance at the playoffs. After a three-game skid weeks 10-12, the Ravens have won three games in a row and are averaging over 40 points per game over that stretch. This is a team playing their best football in December.
The Ravens boast one of the most explosive and diverse rushing attacks in the NFL. Rookie running back J.K. Dobbins has taken over the lead role in the backfield from Mark Ingram and Gus Edwards. He has scored in each of his last four games and is averaging nearly five yards per carry over that span. In addition to Dobbins, the Ravens also have Lamar Jackson at quarterback, who can break off a big run for a touchdown at any time. The Giants defense, which has played very well over the back half of the season, will have their second difficult rushing containment challenge this week in Baltimore.
The Jets will see a similar opponent this week in the Cleveland Browns, to whom they are 9.5-point underdogs. The Browns, like the Rams, operate their offense through their dynamic running backs. Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt form one of the most dangerous rushing attacks in the league. They are the only pair of running backs in the league who each have over 1,000 yards from scrimmage so far this year. They also have scored 10 touchdowns apiece. The Jets’ ability to contain the Rams last week was the biggest reason for their victory and they will need to follow that up with a sequel performance to have a chance in this one.
Quinnen Williams is once again the most important player in the game as well as the best player on the Jets’ roster. The Pro Bowl snub will need to continue his growth and step up to his most challenging test yet. The Browns were held in check by the Giants last week and will be looking for redemption in their second straight game against a New York team. Quarterback Baker Mayfield has also played well lately, but he is greatly aided by the attention being occupied by the running backs. If the game falls on Mayfield, he may succumb to the pressure and give the Jets’ defense some opportunities to create turnovers.
The Eagles opened as 2.5-point road favorites against the Dallas Cowboys, who are coming off their most impressive victory of the season. Not only did the Cowboys take down the 49ers 41-33, they did it without the help of star running back Ezekiel Elliott. Tony Pollard filled in admirably, totaling 132 yards from scrimmage on just 18 touches. Pollard appears to be earning more playing time as a potentially more even running back tandem as Dallas attempts to limit Elliott’s workload to keep him healthy through the duration of the massive contract he signed last year.
The key matchup to watch will be on the right side of the Eagles offensive line where Matt Pryor will attempt to protect Jalen Hurts from the likes of DeMarcus Lawrence, who led the league with 14.5 sacks in 2017. Pryor is naturally a guard, but has been forced to fill in as the third-string right tackle for Philadelphia after season-ending injuries to Lane Johnson and Jack Driscoll. Pryor was responsible for allowing four of the Cardinals’ six sacks last week and his challenge will not get any easier with Lawrence. Hurts will likely be on the run frequently in this one.