On Monday night in the city that will host the Superbowl, the New York Giants and Atlanta Falcons will play an important game as both teams are trying to turn their seasons around. A win from either team could start the process of jump starting their season as they both are trying to get back into the NFC playoff race in late October.
New York enters the game fresh off losing in Philadelphia on last Thursday night at home by the score of 34-13. After defeating the Texans in Week 3, the Giants have lost by more than 15 points twice and then by a 63 yard field goal in Carolina two weeks ago. The Giants are 1-5 entering Monday’s game.
Atlanta has had their own problems, as injuries on the defensive side of the ball has been the major reason why the Falcons have struggled in the early going. They are coming off an victory last week at home against Tampa Bay, but with issues with tackling hasn’t helped in their 2-4 start.
So lets take a look at 3 things that you would watch for on Monday night in Atlanta:
1. Can the Giants find a way to slow down Matt Ryan and the Falcons offense?
At home this year, the Falcons have found ways to score points. They are averaging 34.5 points a game at home this year. Ryan is putting up number similar to his MVP numbers from two seasons ago. Ryan has thrown for 13 touchdowns and only 1 interception in the 4 home games played this season. Ryan has a quarterback rating of 134.4, an impressive 76.2% completion percentage, and he’s averaging 355.4 yards a game passing. He is going to have both Mohammad Sanu and Calvin Ridley healthy on Monday night as both have been cleared to play. Now Atlanta won’t have Davonta Freeman in their backfield as he has been placed on injured reserve and will not be available for Atlanta in the backfield. So expect lots of Tevin Coleman and rookie Ito Smith in short yardage situations.
So what can the Giants do to stop this? The one thing they have going for them this week is that Giants have played very well against the pass this season. They are ranked 12th in the league in yards allowed per game through the air. They have allowed only one 300 yard passing game this season (Deshaun Watson) and most of those yards came in the 4th quarter when the Texans were down by as many as 12 points. Jenoris Jenkins should draw the matchup against Julio Jones, but Giants fans might not have much to be concerned with in the red-zone as Jones still hasn’t caught a touchdown pass all season. If BJ Hill and Oliver Vernon can cause pressure against Ryan, they could force a turnover and the Giants have forced 9 this season. It will allow the Giants not to have to score on almost every possession.
2. Atlanta has had issues tackling on defense, so what does that mean for Sequon Barkley?
Atlanta has lost 3 of it’s best defensive players in the early going as Deion Jones, Keanu Neal and Ricardo Allen, in the opening few weeks of the season. Those 3 played a huge role in Atlanta’s defensive scheme and success on defense last season. Without them this season, Atlanta is 24th in the league against the run, they have given up 25 or more points in each of their last 4 games and they are ranked 32nd in scoring defense. They have allowed 728 yards on the ground in their 6 games played this season. On top of all those issues on the defense especially in the secondary, he could be without 4 more players on defense on Monday. Justin Bethel, Grady Jarrett, Jack Crawford and Derrick Shelby are all questionable for the game against New York. Atlanta’s defensive coordinator Marquand Manuel has to find away to stop one of the NFC’s most dangerous offensive players.
With all of the headlines having Odell Beckham Jr. and Eli Manning on them in the big apple, Barkley has lived up to the hype of being the 2nd overall pick in the draft. Barkley has had over 100 total yards in each of the Giants 6 games and has had 3 80+ yard rushing games and 3 80+ yard receiving yard games in the early going. Normally Jones (who’s the Falcons best athlete) takes on shadowing players like Barkley, is out so Duke Riley has to step into that role. The closest player Atlanta has played against who’s like Sequon is Alvin Kamara. Alvin had 190 total yards in their week 3 loss to the Saints, so Barkley could be in for a huge game.
3. Will Manning be able to stay on his feet long enough to take advantage of the Falcons defense?
Going into week 7, Manning has been sacked 20 times and the Giants have had problems not allowing him to get hit. Good news for Giants fans is the Ereck Flowers was released less than two weeks ago and he’s only been sacked 4 times in the last 2 games. The bad news is that the Falcons actually have a solid pass rush when they can get to the quarterback. Vic Beasley can cause problems for Manning if he can apply pressure and Takkarist McKinley leads the team with 5 sacks. The problem is that quarterbacks have picked about the Falcons secondary all season.
The Falcons have given up a 300+ yard passing game in 4 of the last 5 games played. If Atlanta can’t have at least 4-5 sacks and the same number of QB pressures in Monday, Manning could throw for over 300 yards and Beckham Jr. could have a highlight night on national TV.
This will be a game where you don’t want to go to the bathroom, as both teams have big play ability. You could easily see 75 points scored between both teams. The key is that Atlanta won’t have Matt Bryant available. Bryant is one of the best kickers in the entire league and does exceptionally well kicking indoors at home. As long as Atlanta can score touchdowns instead of field goals, then they should win their 3rd game of the season. All the Giants have to do is have the ball last in this game. Atlanta’s defense have given up a game-winning touchdown at home in 2 of their last 3 home games and could have lost games against Tampa Bay and Carolina at home in the same situations.
I like Atlanta at home on Monday night, besides Julio Jones can’t go 6 weeks without scoring a touchdown can he? Expect both quarterbacks to have over 300 yards, Jones and Beckham Jr to have over 100 yards receiving and Barkley to have over 175 yards in total offense. But Ryan makes enough plays to Ridley, Sanu, Coleman and Austin Hooper to be the difference.
Atlanta 38 New York 34
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