By Michael Stewart @golferbad
Introduction: The Giants must somehow find a way to salvage this season after an embarrassing lost to the hands of the Philadelphia Eagles 34-13. The only bright spot in that game was the valiant effort of rookie running back Saquon Barkley. The lack of effort and the display of unprofessionalism by Odell Beckham and Eli Apple really finalized the season the Giants are having. Up next are the Atlanta Falcons who find themselves at 2-4 beating Tampa 34-29. The Falcons average 27.8 ppg (8th) with 311.2 passing yards per game (5th) and 86.0 rushing yards (29th). Defensively; the Falcons have struggled yielding 32.0 ppg (31st) ranked 29th against the pass (295.8) and 26th against the run (121.7). The Giants offense has been nearly a non-factor averaging 19.5 ppg (28th) with 260.8 passing yards (17th) and 87.5 yards on the ground (27th). On defense, the Giants have slipped surrendering 33.5 ppg over their last two games. They rank 11th against the pass (236.3) and 26th against the run (121.7).
Top 3 Matchups:
- Julio Jones-vs-Giants Secondary: There’s a possibility that Calvin Ridley (ankle) and Mohamed Sanu (hip) will miss the game. If so, look for the Giants to employ five defensive backs as much as possible and double teaming Jones as well. The Falcons running game ranks worse than the Giants, so look for the Giants to look pass first on defense.
- Giants offense-vs-Falcons defense: The Falcon defense is second to last in the NFL and the Giants should exploit them through the air and on the ground. That means getting the ball into Saquon Barkley’s hands as much as possible. Barkley’s outstanding game last week against the Eagles (13 carries for 130 yards and 9 receptions for 99 yards with a touchdown) could have been better if the Giants gave him the ball more. Let’s face it, the Giants offense needs to go through Barkley and he needs at least 25 touches if not more if the Giants want to sustain drives, score points and have a better chance of winning.
- Red Zone Efficiency: Atlanta’s red zone efficiency is 65% and good enough for the 9th spot in the league (84.6 at home) as the Giants are trending at around 44%; which puts them at 28th overall. However; the Giants have a road percentage of 62.5 and this could be the deciding factor to determine the winner. The team that can convert more points in the red zone, should have the edge.
Summary: In this prime time matchup on Monday night, both teams are desperate for a win as we are nearing the halfway point of the season. The top 3 matchups do favor the Giants and projecting Saquon Barkley to match or even exceed last week’s performance. The Giants must be aggressive on both sides of the ball. Offensively, Manning needs to stretch the field at least; with the notion that it could open up other areas on the field for the Giants. Defensively, DC James Bettcher needs to earn his strips in this game and devise a defensive package against Matt Ryan that will force him into mistakes. I believe both teams will move the ball between the 20 yard lines and it could come down to which team executives better in the red zone.
Final Score: The Falcons could be the best remedy for the Giants to play a complete game and produce points. Both offenses will score 20+ points and both defenses will be tested. In the end, the Giants defense is better and Barkley will be too much to handle.