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Ravens vs. Giants: 5 players to watch

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NFL: Pittsburgh Steelers at Baltimore Ravens Mitchell Layton-USA TODAY Sports

The Baltimore Ravens easily defeated the Jacksonville Jaguars 40-14 last week. Now, they will seek their fourth straight victory against the 5-9 New York Giants. Here are five players to watch:

D.J. Fluker

The Giants have one of the league’s best run defenses. This season, they are only allowing 3.9 yards per carry (tied for fifth-fewest in the NFL). Defensive end Leonard Williams is their best run defender. He has a PFF run defense grade of 84.1, which is sixth among interior defenders. In addition, Williams leads the Giants with 8.5 sacks.

Fluker got the majority of the team’s snaps at right tackle against the Jaguars, so he should be matched up against Williams frequently. Limiting Williams will be key for the Ravens to come away with a victory.

J.K. Dobbins

Since taking over as the lead back, Dobbins has been sensational. He has a rushing touchdown in four straight games, and for the season, he is still averaging an incredibly efficient 5.2 yards per carry. He will face a tough test against the Giants’ run defense, but I have a lot of confidence in him. Remember, he posted 113 rushing yards on only 15 carries against the Steelers defense earlier this season.

Derek Wolfe

Giants guard Shane Lemieux has a PFF grade of 29.3; that is the worst mark among all guards this season. Wolfe had his best game of the season against the Jaguars last week. He had his first sack of the season and a fumble recovery. He should keep the momentum going against Lemieux and the Giants' offensive line.

Calais Campbell

Campbell missed last week’s game against the Jaguars due to a calf injury. He was a full participant in Thursday’s practice and seems to be on track to play Sunday.

After losing Saquon Barkley for the season, the Giants have quietly been effective running the football. Quarterback Daniel Jones, in particular, has stood out. Jones has rushed for 403 yards this season, which is sixth among quarterbacks. In addition, running back Wayne Gallman has been solid. He is averaging 4.5 yards per carry. He made a huge impact in their win over the Seahawks a couple of weeks ago by rushing for 135 yards.

Like Wolfe, Campbell is an excellent run defender. Last season, he was PFF’s Run Defender of the Year. Slowing down the Giants’ run game is a major key to victory, and Campbell is up to the task.

Anthony Averett

Averett should play a large role again this week. Jimmy Smith has been ruled out again with a shoulder/ribs injury. In addition, Marcus Peters is listed as questionable. Last week, Averett played 100% of the team’s defensive snaps and performed admirably.

This week, he will face an underwhelming Giants’ wide receiver group led by Darius Slayton and Sterling Shepard. The Giants are averaging the fourth-fewest receiving yards per game in the NFL, but quarterback play is partially responsible for that lack of production. So, let’s evaluate Slayton and Shepard individually. Shepard is struggling to gain yards after the catch; he is averaging -0.5 yards after the catch above expectation; that is the fifth-worst mark among qualifying wide receivers. Meanwhile, Slayton has not excelled at creating separation. He has an average separation of only 2.3 yards, which is tied for the fifth-worst among qualifying wide receivers. The league average is 2.86 yards.

Averett played a solid game against the Jaguars. He should be able to help contain Slayton and Shepard on Sunday.