As we are now just three weeks away from the 2012 regular season ending the Atlanta Falcons and New York Giants meet once again in Georgia. The Giants have been dominating the Falcons in Atlanta in past seasons and hold as of now a 7-0 record the last seven games in the Georgia Dome. Though this game comes after the Giants slaughtered Matt Ryan and the Falcons in January’s post season match-up 24-2.
Since we last saw these two teams play back in January the Giants have beaten the Patriots in Superbowl 46 and Atlanta in 2012 is 11-2 coming off another division loss to the Carolina Panthers. Once again Eli Manning and the Giants have stepped it up in the 2nd half of the regular season bringing them inches closer to another playoff birth once again. Matt Ryan though is looking to prove all of his doubters wrong by beating the defending champs and taking a hold of the NFC’s number one seed and moving past the first round of the playoffs for the first time in his young career.
When this battle ensues on this Sunday Matt Ryan and Eli Manning will look to duel it out in the air. Though each team has their strengths and weaknesses here are my three keys to watch during this great match-up:
1) David Wilson RB (NY Giants). The Giants this season ranked 15th overall in the NFL with rushing yards per game at about 116.4 yards per game on the ground. Though that was with Ahmad Bradshaw taking those handoffs from Eli Manning. Bradshaw will be out with a sprained knee injury leading to the rookie David Wilson to take the ball against the Falcons. Wilson has rushed the ball 41 times this year and has accumulated 211 yards while averaging 5.1 yards per carry. A decent amount for a third string running back starting the season. Though this week Wilson will have to be huge helping keep the Falcon offense off the field for the Giants. The Giants have one of worse passing defenses giving up 252.8 yards per game in the air. If Manning and the Giants want to have a chance to make it 8-0 on the road against the Falcons David Wilson will need to have his best game yet on the ground.
2) NY Giants Passing Defense. The Giants as of late have been holding off teams like the Saints last week just enough for Eli Manning to make some magic on offense. Though in my eyes this is the real test for New York defensively this season. Matt Ryan averages 289 yards per game in the air and has a completion percentage of 67.7 percent. If the Giants can hold Matt Ryan to limited attempts and not give up deep pass plays to Julio Jones or Roddy White then this game can turn out to be a one sided affair like it did in last seasons playoffs. Even though I know it seems literally impossible to stop the big pass plays against the Falcons with the receiving core of White, Jones, and Tony Gonzalez at tight end you have to keep them short. The short passing game truly isn’t Matt Ryan’s mindset. If you watch him this season the deep plays his where is mind is set all the time. You rush four to five guys at Ryan and stop the big play the Giants should win this game.
3) Wide Receiver Battle. Victor Cruz & Hakeem Nicks versus Roddy White & Julio Jones. As we have seen on twitter, ESPN, and other networks the talk about this game is the wide receivers and who has a better group of them. For the Giants they take the advantage by having the most rings on their fingers. Although the best talented crew has to be Atlanta’s with White and Jones. You all know the statistics of each wide receiver. I am not going to bore you with stats. This is my final key. Whomevers crew that drops the least passes or finds more yards after the catch will win. End of story!
New York Giants beat Atlanta Falcons. 38-36.
I believe that this game will be a high scoring affair. I think that Matt Ryan and the Falcons will give up the lead late with either a turnover or just by giving to much time to Eli Manning at the end of the game. The Giants passing defense will once again give up a ton of yards to Matt Ryan, but they will stop Michael Turner and with no big run game for Atlanta it will be their demise once again.
Where To Watch Online: New York Giants at Atlanta
*All stats courtesy of pro-football-reference.com