1) Pass out of power formations: The New York modus operandi is to stop offenses cold on first and second down, setting up challenging third-and-long conversion situations. This is when the Giants unleash hell, so to speak. New York leads the league in the sack department, having already registered 30 and counting.
Clearly, the Baltimore offense does not want to be in too many third-and-long situations against this defense. Not only is the New York front four able to pin its ears back and beat their blockers one-on-one, but defensive coordinator Steve Spagnoulo uses an assortment of confounding blitz packages for the quarterback to wrestle with.
The Ravens will need to emphasize efficiency on offense. To be efficient, the pass offense should operate out of its run-heavy, base packages. In other words, there should not be too many instances when the formations are spread out, with three and four receivers on the field, leaving the line vulnerable to handle their blocks without help from extra blockers.
The base formations would include one and two receiver looks, two backs and an assortment of two tight end looks. By setting up in these formations, the Giants may load up the box in anticipation of the run, and quarterback Joe Flacco would have man-to-man matchups to exploit.
This will be a game in which the backs and tight ends will need to make plays in the passing game. They will need to be on the field to help in protection, and as a result, they will also need to be check down options in the passing game for Flacco to turn to when he gets into trouble.
2) Exploit the safeties: There are not too many chinks in the Giants’ defensive armor, but if there is one, it could be the safeties.
The safety duo of Michael Johnson and Kenny Phillips has rarely been tested on long developing deep routes. Obviously, it is difficult for a quarterback to execute those types of patterns if he is on his back.
It will be key for offensive coordinator Cam Cameron to design a couple of plays that test the New York safeties. Although protection could be difficult to achieve on double move patterns and play action deep shots, the offense will need to find a way. If Flacco is able to influence one of the safeties out of position, there could be room for him to work with over-the-top.
3) Brawler Mentality: The Giants are the proverbial bullies on the block. The only way to beat a bully is to become a bully.
As was mentioned before, this is not a game in which the Ravens can play finesse ball by spreading their formations, using multiple receivers. Pass offenses that have tried to open up their attacks have failed miserably because the Giants’ ferocious front four always gets to the quarterback.
The means to success is to turn this game into a back alley street brawl. The Ravens need to be able run the ball, move the chains to control the clock and punch the Giants in the mouth.
1) Disguises: Make no mistake; this is defensive coordinator Rex Ryan’s game all the way. If the Baltimore defense is to hold down New York’s aerial attack, it will need to do so by creating confusion, forcing quarterback Eli Manning and his line to make mistakes when they adjust their protections before the snap.
Manning, like his older brother, is usually able to discern a defense’s pre-snap movement. It is difficult to show him something that he has yet to see on film.
Still, Ryan will need to use a lot of different looks before the snap to bait Manning into making the wrong read.
2) First Down run defense: The mark of a great offense is how it performs on first down and the Giants are no exception. Part of the reason that they are so difficult to defend on first down is because they are consistently able to produce plus gains when they run, thereby giving them the ability to pass against man coverage when defenses over-commit to stuff the run.
The Ravens primary objective is to stuff the New York ground attack, primarily on first down. If the Baltimore defense struggles to hold the three-headed monster of Brandon Jacobs, Ahmad Bradshaw and Derrick Ward in check on first down, they will have an impossible time trying to keep the Giants out of third-and-manageable situations.
On the other hand, if the Baltimore front seven does its job on first down by holding the Giants to gains of two yards or less, it may create more opportunities to force Manning to convert on third-and-long.
3) Stop the run to stop play action: The Giants are a tremendous rush offense and in turn, they are also an equally devastating play action pass offense. Without the threat and the consistent commitment of the run, play action doesn’t have the same bite.
Throughout the course of the game, the Ravens have to take the play action option away from the New York offense. This goal can only be accomplished if Baltimore does a good enough job of stopping the run to quiet the effectiveness of Manning’s run action fakes.
Even if Manning is still persistent in using run fake motions, the defenders dropping into coverage will need to stick to their assignments and not stray from their landmarks.
One-on-one Matchup to Watch: Trevor Pryce versus Chris Snee: This will be a contest between two of the best at their respective positions. Snee is having another banner season, and anchors New York’s rushing game. He is equally adept as a driver blocker and a puller. Pryce has been steady all season as a run defender and he has picked up his game as a gap-splitting rusher. For Pryce to hold his own against Snee, he will need to play physical and get a quick jump at the snap.