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Giants need answers and help to make the playoffs

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Giants need answers and help to make the playoffs

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) Despite throwing away control of their playoff destiny with lopsided losses the past two weeks, the New York Giants aren't giving up.

While perplexed after seeing the defending Super Bowl champions outscored 67-14 by Atlanta and Baltimore, coach Tom Coughlin insists the Giants (8-7) will play hard in their season finale at home against the Philadelphia Eagles.

``We'll just keep hanging in there and working hard and this certainly is adversity,'' Coughlin said Monday. ``This certainly is a difficult time for us, but we're going to fight and we're going to do everything in our power to prepare ourselves for Philadelphia, who played very well against Washington.''

The Giants need a ton of help to avoid missing the playoffs for the third time in four years. They have to beat Philadelphia, have Minnesota and Chicago (both 9-6) lose and have Dallas (8-7) tie or lose to Washington.

While the chances of it all happening seem remote, Coughlin is hoping his team plays well after stumbling down the stretch with losses in five of the last seven games.

Neither Coughlin nor quarterback Eli Manning nor defensive end Osi Umenyiora could explain the collapse, although injuries have played a big part, especially in the second half of the season.

Halfback Ahmad Bradshaw (foot, knee), receiver Hakeem Nicks (foot, knee), defensive tackle Chris Canty (knee), safety Kenny Phillips (knee), offensive linemen David Diehl (knee), Chris Snee (hip) and David Baas (shoulder) all have played with nagging injuries.

Manning blamed some of the offensive woes lately on players not being able to practice much of the week and then showing up for games. Coughlin said the team isn't making many big plays on either side of the ball.

Manning believes this team wants to finish the season on a high note, even if that doesn't get the Giants in the postseason.

``We want to have something we can be proud about, and see how the other games (end up) " Manning said. ``I can guarantee you that the worst feeling we can have is if we go out there and don't play at a high level, and all those teams lose that we need to and we don't handle our own end. All we can worry about is improving our performance and getting back to playing quality football.''

The Giants certainly haven't done that lately. A week after being embarrassed 34-0 by the Falcons, New York dropped a 33-14 decision to the Ravens.

The combined 14 points is their lowest total in back-to-back games since Nov. 28 and Dec. 5, 2004, when they lost to Philadelphia 27-6, and to Washington, 31-7.

The offense was pathetic against a Ravens defense missing Ray Lewis. It gained 186 total yards with just 67 on the ground, was 2 of 10 on third down and held the ball for 20:29.

Baltimore gained 533 yards, the second-highest total in Coughlin's nine years as head coach.

Coughlin was at a loss to explain how a team loaded with veterans from two Super Bowl wins failed to step up and make plays.

``I'm sure it will be an incredible investigation and study,'' Coughlin said when asked if that was something the team would be looking at in the offseason.

Umenyiora said the ball just hasn't bounced the right way this season. They have been close to making plays and just missed or had breakdowns, something which didn't happen in their late-season six-game winning streak that carried them to a title last season.

It has led to a fair amount of frustration, but not anger, Umenyiora said, adding only one team walks away happy at the end of the season.

``Did this year play out the way out any of us wanted it to?'' Umenyiora said rhetorically. ``No, but at the end of the day we still have a chance to go out there and give one last good impression or one good showing of ourselves and I think we're going to do that.''

Umenyiora agreed with Coughlin that the Giants aren't a very confident team right now.

``The pedigree of this group is very, very good and for us to be getting beat the way we've been getting beat these last two weeks, obviously there's something lacking. Is it physical talent?'' Umenyiora said. ``You can't say it's physical talent because we have the ability, but obviously it has to be something, and so the only thing I think you can point to is confidence. It just doesn't seem like we're playing with a lot of confidence and it's showing out there on the football field.''

There is a good chance this will be Umenyiora's final season with the Giants. He said he would like to finish his career with the franchise, but he knows changes are coming if New York's season ends Sunday, and there is a ``high probability'' he would be a casualty.

Manning said the Giants' failure to make another late-season push was disappointing but not really a surprise because every season is different.

``You have to play your best football at the end of the season, especially for those in playoff contention, for playoff chances, you have to put yourself in the best possible position to be playing great football,'' Manning said. ``We haven't done that.''

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Ravens training camp preview: How effective of a season can Matthew Judon have?

Ravens training camp preview: How effective of a season can Matthew Judon have?

Rostered outside linebackers: Matthew Judon, Jaylon Ferguson, Tyus Bowser, Aaron Adoeye, Chauncey Rivers, Marcus Willoughby, John Daka.

If there was one position of “need” the Ravens didn’t address this offseason, it was outside linebacker.

The Ravens instead added to their interior defensive line and inside linebacking corps, but didn’t add a notable free agent or draft pick at outside linebacker. Instead, they’re set to run back the group from a year ago. 

The team ranked 21st in the NFL a year ago in sacks with 37, but second in quarterback knockdowns. Essentially, the team dialed up pressure more than anyone else in the league but didn’t get home enough. Now, they're hopeful they've fixed that problem.

And if there is a trickle-down benefit to the outside linebackers of those additions elsewhere, it’s that the Ravens’ outside linebackers should have more one-on-one matchups on the outside. Notably, that includes Matthew Judon. 

He finished the year with 9.5 sacks a season ago and had 33 quarterback hits — more than three times the second-place finisher on the roster. And now, he’ll play on the franchise tag in his fifth season in the league. As the team’s top pass-rusher, he’s got a lot of pressure on his back entering the 2020 season. 

RELATED: HOW MUCH WILL THE ROOKIE LB's MAKE AN IMPACT ON THE DEFENSE?

If Judon is able to become an upper-tier pass-rusher this season, he’ll not only boost the Ravens’ defense, he’ll cement his monster contract that appears on the horizon, whether that comes from the Ravens or another team. 

But while Judon is the headliner of the Ravens’ edge rushers, in terms of success of the team this season, he might not be the most important part of the front seven. It might end up being whoever lines up across from him. 

Judon has shown the ability to be a No. 1 pass-rusher in the NFL, and with the benefit of an improved defense around him, it’s reasonable to assume he can repeat his 9.5 sack performance — or better it — in 2020. That shouldn't be the worry.

Where the true test will come, however, is who lines up as the second outside linebacker on the depth chart. 

Pernell McPhee had three sacks last season, but missed a majority of the season with a torn triceps. The team used rookie Jaylon Ferguson, who had 2.5 sacks, and Tyus Bowser, who had five sacks, in his absence.

With Calais Campbell, Brandon Williams and Derek Wolfe on the defensive line, it’s reasonable to assume that the Ravens’ outside linebackers will get more favorable matchups. 

And if Judon and the host of other outside linebackers are able to get more one-on-one matchups, the Ravens’ could wreak havoc on opposing quarterbacks in 2020. 

So while the Ravens didn’t address their outside linebacker position this offseason, the additions elsewhere on the roster should provide the benefit that position group needed.

Stay connected to the Ravens with the MyTeams app. Click here to download for comprehensive coverage of your teams.

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Report: NFL to cut preseason in half, taking away Ravens first and fourth preseason games against the Bills and Redskins

Report: NFL to cut preseason in half, taking away Ravens first and fourth preseason games against the Bills and Redskins

According to a report from ProFootballTalk, the NFL has scrapped its first and fourth preseason games this season and cut the preseason in half. 

The Ravens were scheduled to play the Bills at home on Aug. 14 to open the season, then end the preseason on Sept. 3 against the Redskins. 

RELATED: TRAINING CAMP PREVIEW: INSIDE LINEBACKER

Now, the Ravens’ tentative preseason schedule will have one road game, at the Cowboys on Aug. 22, and home against the Panthers on Aug. 30. 

According to the report, the move was spurred on by two factors: Firstly, that road teams would have trouble moving that many bodies and risk spreading COVID-19. Secondly, that no team has had on-field workouts this summer. Now, with training camps scheduled to start on July 28, teams will have more time to prepare for the season. 

The move came with coronavirus cases continually rising in the United States a day after Dr. Anthony Fauci said new cases could reach 100,000 per day if more preventative measures were not taken. On June 30, the U.S. had 46,042 new cases, the second-highest total since the pandemic began.

Baltimore is still set to report to camp at the end of the month, as is the rest of the NFL. With the new preseason schedule, they’ll have about three weeks to prepare for the first on-field game action of the season. 

The Ravens haven’t lost in the preseason since Sept. 3, 2015, when they lost 20-19 to the Falcons. 

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