Giants v. Falcons, will the big hulks crush the little birdie, or with the eagle soar, dive and rip them to shreds?
This Sunday's match up is make or break for both: blow the playoff game and you are done for the season. So everyone is tryiing to figure the odds and balance the pros and the cons. So far, the other analysts favor the Giants--and so do I, but and here are my reasons:
Forecasts indicate a 10 percent chance of rain for this week's game at MetLife Stadium. This bodes well for the Giants who host a team that has barely played outdoors, let alone in the cold rain.
You always like making a dome team play outdoors, Giants defensive end Mathias Kiwanuka told the New York Post this week. It doesn't guarantee you anything, but it's definitely going to be an adjustment for them.
The Falcons have struggled in each of their games away from the Georgia Dome. They went just 4-4 on the road this season, including just 2-2 in the outdoors. Atlanta's Matt Ryan is only 17-15 on the road in his career and will perhaps face rain and the strong winds of the Meadowlands. The rain doesn't appear to affect Manning who had success driving the team to a 21-0 halftime lead last week against the Cowboys.
The Giants' inconsistent season is strikingly similar to their remarkable 2007 Super Bowl run, which is perhaps why the team is so confident heading into this week's game.
I would not want to face the New York Giants in the playoffs right now, running back Brandon Jacobs told to the Post. I got the same feeling (that I had in 2007). There's a lot of guys that are here that weren't here a couple of years ago when we went, but it's the same kind of feeling that I have.
While the Falcons won against the lowly Buccaneers in week 17, their week 16 loss against the Saints was brutal. The Giants are coming off two of the biggest games of their season with decisive wins against the Jets and Cowboys.
The 2007 team had their own identity, they had their moments. Hopefully this 2011 team can have their identity and their moments,'' Justin Tuck said to the Post. We're not the same team that we were in '07, and I'm not going to try to say we are. But we do have a lot of similarities and we can do a lot of things we did in '07. Hopefully, we can get on that run.''
Giants pass rush
The Falcons allowed a meager 26 sacks this season-only five teams allowed fewer. But the Giants' defensive line is surging at the most important time of the year. Their d-line has battered offenses in recent weeks collecting 11 sacks against the Jets and Cowboys.
Atlanta must choose who they double wisely in a d-line that was ranked third statistically this season. The pass rush contingent was led by Jason Pierre-Paul who was fourth in the league in sacks with 16.5.
Accuscore, a sports betting system, projects the Giants to win, but if Turner gets at least 75 yards the Falcons chances of winning skyrockets. The Falcons are 9-1 when Turner carries the ball at least 19 times. But the Giants' pass rush allowed Dallas only 49 yards rushing last week, forcing Tony Romo to pass the ball more than normal.
We're doing what we are supposed to do, Jason Pierre-Paul said to the Associated Press. We are stopping the run first and getting to the quarterback second. We have to stop the run first. If you don't stop the run, you can't get to the quarterback.
Atlanta's questionable secondary
Atlanta's secondary was ranked a mediocre 20th in passing yardage this past season (236.6 per game). The Giants are primarily a passing team, with Manning having the best statistical season of his career. Victor Cruz's breakout season has provided Manning with the impact receiver he needed to get to this point.
But Atlanta's secondary has more to worry about than Cruz's receiving. When the explosive Cruz is doubled, Hakeem Nicks becomes another threat in single coverage. And once you double up Nicks, Cruz opens up again. Unless Atlanta's pass rush steps up, Manning will have the whole field to throw to.
It's a matter of the offensive line blocking up, said Manning. They do have good pass rushers.