After starting the season 0-2 and seemingly lost, the New York Giants have done an about face and have evened up their record at 2-2. They are gaining confidence and momentum with each win.
This week will present a real litmus test for the Giants, who take on a dangerous Falcons team. Despite a 2-2 record, the Falcons have an explosive offense with quarterback Matt Ryan having many weapons at his disposal in Julio Jones, Roddy White and Steven Jackson. The Falcons defense is less than stellar and this is a game the Giants can take, especially since they are at home and that is a huge advantage to work with.
Here, then, are five things to watch for in Sunday’s game.
Do the Falcons really play poorly outdoors?
Well, this year they have dropped both games outdoors by a combined average of 13.5 points to the Bengals and Vikings. Last year in a season that went horribly wrong, they dropped six of seven games outdoors.
So, from the looks of it, Ryan and company don’t appear to be comfortable playing outdoors. Maybe it’s psychological or something else, but their offense never seems to click outdoors as opposed to playing at home—or at least in a dome.
Hopefully the trend continues for the Giants sake this week.
Can Eli and company keep it up on offense?
Considering that Eli Manning has completed 49 of 67 passes for 534 yards and six touchdowns to just one interception in wins over the Texans and Redskins the last two weeks, it looks like—finally—he is fully grasping Ben McAdoo’s west coast offense.
Chances are Manning will keep it going against an under-performing Falcons pass defense. Atlanta ranks 29th in receiving yards allowed (1,131), although they have allowed just three passing touchdowns.
Look for Manning to throw early and often while trying to keep up with Ryan. So, between Manning getting more comfortable in McAdoo’s offense and facing a vulnerable defense, it looks he’ll be able to keep it rolling
What can Larry Donnell do for an encore?
Looks like the Giants have a breakout star on their hands with the emergence of Donnell, who simply went off— recording three touchdowns— in last week’s win over the Redskins.
Donnell now has 25 receptions for 236 yards and four touchdowns on the year. While, he likely won’t go off like he did in Washington, the chances for a good game are there this week, given the troubles of the Falcons defense.
Look for Manning to try to connect with Donnell, as he is his security blanket as well as a trusted weapon in the red zone.
What can we expect from Odell Beckham Jr. in his debut?
After all the ballyhoo and hype that made him the No. 12 pick in April’s NFL draft and then after sitting out most of camp and the first four games with a hamstring injury, Beckham Jr. is finally ready to take the field.
According to Jordan Raanan of NJ.com, the Giants appear ready to throw him into the “fire” and will apparently not limit him on Sunday. Blessed with game-changing speed, Beckham Jr. could be be a interesting X-factor for the Giants this season.
Hopefully, Beckham Jr. is not restricted and is raring to go, as his presence could make Manning’s job a lot easier.
Will Jon Beason make it back for Sunday?
From all indications it looks like Beason may indeed make it back on the field Sunday.
Ruled as questionable, if Beason can make it back, his presence can only help an already steady defense. Beason is an important cog in the defense, as he is perhaps the Giants best tackler. With Beason’s leadership, the Giants will instantly see a boost with him around.
It appears that not only will Beason be back, but rookie linebacker Devon Kennard as well. It looks like the Giants are getting healthy at the right moment.
Follow me on Twitter @Stacdemon