In what is expected to be the closest game of the weekend the Atlanta Falcons will play the New York Giants in the early game on Sunday. Although the Falcons finished the season with a better record and clinched a playoff spot earlier, they find themselves on the road and a three point underdog.
The two starting quarterbacks are coming off very good seasons; both threw for over 4,000 yards, both threw 29 touchdowns, and both had quarterback ratings of over 92; each finished now lower than 8th in the NFL in those categories. Matt Ryan is looking for his first career playoff win; Eli Manning is seeking his first playoff win since The Game That Shall Not Be Mentioned.
In the running game the Falcons have a distinct advantage. Michael Turner ran for 1,340 yards, which was third best in the NFL this year, and 4.5 yards per carry. The Giants collectively ran for the least amount of yards in the league (89.2 yards per game) and their 3.5 yards per carry was also the lowest in the league.
Both teams have very good receivers. Roddy White had 100 receptions for 1296 yards and 8 touchdowns; Julio Jones had 54 catches for 959 yards and 8 touchdowns; and Tony Gonzalez had 80 receptions for 875 yards and 7 touchdowns. Â Victor Cruz led the Giants with 82 catches, 1536 yards and 9 touchdowns; Hakeem Nicks had 76 catches for 1192 yards and 7 touchdowns; and Jake Ballard and Mario Manningham combined for 77 catches, 1127 yards and 8 touchdowns.
On defense the Giants line is far superior to that of the Falcons. Jason Pierre Paul, Osi Umeinyora, Justin Tuck, Chris Canty, Linval Joseph, Mathias Kiwanuka, Dave Tollefson and Rocky Bernard can all create pressure. Other than John Abraham there’s not much to talk about with the Falcons. Neither secondary is particularly good.
I just don’t trust the Atlanta offensive line against the Giants defensive line to go with the Falcons. If this game was being played inside in Georgia I would probably feel differently, but this is another dome team that looks so very different outdoors in cold weather. Three units on the Giants minus three and two units on the total under 48.
Prediction: Giants 28, Falcons 17