Ravens-Giants: Preview & Notes

Patrick Smith

From NFL Communications, here's what they have on Sunday's game between the Ravens and Giatns:

NFL TEAMS PREPARE FOR FINAL STRETCH

Time is running out. With two weeks to go in the NFL regular season, it’s time for teams to make their final playoff push.

"Momentum is very important," says head coach MIKE SMITH of the NFC-leading Atlanta Falcons. "Sometimes it’s difficult to measure and quantify it. When you use the word momentum, you use the word passion. You use the word purpose. It’s important that you’re playing efficiently and effectively in December and January. That’s what every team is striving for. Over the last two seasons, the teams that were playing well in December and January and really rolling were the teams that had the most success. Momentum is very important."

While seven postseason berths have been clinched – Atlanta (NFC South), Baltimore, Denver (AFC West), Green Bay (NFC North), Houston (AFC South), New England (AFC East) and San Francisco – there are still 19 teams overall in contention for a trip to Super Bowl XLVII in New Orleans.

Three divisions – AFC North, NFC East, NFC West – are going down to the wire.

"These are the circumstances you want to be in," says New York Giants quarterback ELI MANNING. "You want to be fighting to make it in the playoffs. That’s just football and you understand it’s tough to make the playoffs. You’ve got to work. You’ve got to win games. You’ve got to win important games. Our mindset is that the playoffs have started."

In the AFC, Baltimore controls the AFC North and can clinch the division title with a win. Cincinnati, Indianapolis and Pittsburgh are each in control for at least a playoff berth. Houston and Denver are in control for a first-round bye with the Texans being in control for home-field advantage throughout the AFC playoffs.

In the NFC, Washington and Dallas, who meet in Week 17, are each in control of the division in the NFC East. San Francisco, who has already secured a playoff berth, is in control in the NFC West. Seattle, Washington, Dallas and the New York Giants are each in control for at least a playoff berth. Atlanta and San Francisco are in control for a first-round bye with the Falcons being in control for home-field advantage throughout the NFC playoffs.

Week 16 kicks off on Saturday night when the NFC South champion Atlanta Falcons travel to Detroit to face the Lions (ESPN, 8:30 PM ET). The action continues with 15 games on Sunday, capped off by a primetime matchup featuring the top two teams in the NFC West – San Francisco and Seattle (NBC, 8:20 PM ET).

NEW YORK GIANTS (8-6) AT BALTIMORE RAVENS (9-5) (Sunday, FOX, 4:25 PM ET)

The Ravens are already in. The Giants hope to join them. Baltimore, which has clinched a playoff berth, can win the AFC North with a victory. The defending Super Bowl champions will assure themselves at least a postseason spot with wins in their final two games.

"If we win two games, we’re going to be in the playoffs," says Giants head coach TOM COUGHLIN. "That’s what we have to focus on. Our team knows the circumstances very well. It is a playoff situation for us. We now have to win to have the opportunity to go to the playoffs. We’ve responded to that in the past. We’re going to have to respond to that again."

Baltimore has lost three in a row after a 9-2 start, but the Ravens clinched a playoff spot last week.

"We’ve got work to do," says Baltimore head coach JOHN HARBAUGH. "We’re going to fight like crazy to become the team we’re capable of becoming. We’re not that team yet. It’s a long season, but all of our goals are in front of us."

A breakdown of the AFC division races:

AFC EAST: New England (10-4) has clinched the AFC East division title.

AFC NORTH: Baltimore (9-5), Cincinnati (8-6) and Pittsburgh (7-7) remain in contention for the AFC North division title.

AFC SOUTH: Houston (12-2) has clinched the AFC South division title.

AFC WEST: Denver (11-3) has clinched the AFC West division title.

The following teams are in AFC Wild Card contention:

TEAM

OVERALL

CONFERENCE

Baltimore*

9-5

8-3

Indianapolis

9-5

6-4

Cincinnati

8-6

5-5

Pittsburgh

7-7

4-6

Miami

6-8

4-6

*Baltimore has already clinched a playoff berth and currently leads the AFC North

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