Look At Me. . . Falcons Giants Playoff Preview

Posted: January 8, 2012 by Kodi in NFL

The Falcons and Giants will battle to see who get’s their shot at dethroning the Green Bay Packers

They both have great QB’s with extremely talented WR’s but what about their running games?

In the end it will come down to defense and turnovers and this game is up in the air

The Atlanta Falcons will be traveling to MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey to face off against the NFC East division champion New York Giants. It will be the first time that the two teams will face each other in the postseason and looks to be a highly competitive game as both squads are playing some of their best football coming into the playoffs. Atlanta started off slowly losing 3 of their first 2 games but ended the season winning 5 of their last 7 and finished with a 10-6 record. The Giants have teetered back and forth starting of 6-2 but then lost 4 straight and 5 of 6 before winning their final 2 games to squeak ahead of the Dallas Cowboys as division champs.

The Falcons were the number 1 seed in last years playoffs while the Giants were left out despite having a 10-6 record and New York has not reached the postseason since winning the Super Bowl in 2008. New York and Atlanta have both been led by great QB play but Atlanta’s Matt Ryan also has RB Michael Turner to rely on, while the Giants Eli Manning struggled to incorporate Ahmad Bradshaw and Brandon Jacobs heavily. Eli and Matty Ice have combined to throw for 9110 yards which is the second most total yardage besides the match-up between Drew Brees and Matt Stafford in Saturday’s game, throwing for 10514.

Matt Ryan ranked 7th in passing attempts, 566, completions, 347, 8th in yards, 4177 and tied 6th in the NFL with 29 passing touchdowns. It was the most yards and touchdowns that Ryan has thrown for in his young 4 year career and it seems that the Falcons costly investment in former Alabama WR Julio Jones turned out to be well worth it. Atlanta moved up 21 spots in last year’s draft to select Jones with the 6th overall pick after giving up their 1st round picks in both the 2011 and 2012 draft as well as their 2011 2nd round pick, two 4th round picks, a bag full of cash and a map to the fountain of youth. Luckily the investment worked out although the young man missed a few games due to injury.

Jones had 54 catches for 959 yards and 8 touchdowns in his first 13 games in the NFL. He also helped take away some coverage from WR Roddy White who was the leagues most targeted player with 181. He was able to lead the NFC with 100 receptions for 1296 yards and 8 touchdowns and was his 5th straight season of 1100 or more receiving yards. The Falcons scored 402 points which ranked 7th in the NFL behind their 8th ranked passing offense and I didn’t even mention the role ageless wonder TE of the world Tony Gonzalez had.

The Giants also had an incredible passing game behind Eli Manning’s record breaking season. He had career highs in completions with 359, yards, 4933 and threw for 29 touchdowns and just 16 interceptions after throwing for 31 touchdowns and 25 picks last season. Manning broke a record this year throwing 15 4th quarter touchdowns and orchestrated 5 comeback drives and 6 total game winning drives. There were multiple factors why the Giants relied on their passing game like a hobo in the park to his Carlo De Rossi jugwine.

The positive reason was the emergence of WR Victor Cruz who replaced a departed Steve Smith and stepped up after an injury to Mario Manningham. Cruz started in just 7 games but caught 82 balls for 1536 yards and 9 touchdowns including a 99 yarder. Cruz’s emergence was vital to the Giants passing success but Hakeem Nicks had a great season as well pulling in 76 balls for 1192 yards and 7 touchdowns. The two WR’s combined for 2728 yards and 16 touchdowns for the Giants while the Falcons top two racked up a mere 2255 and 16 touchdowns but the Falcons also have a running game they can rely on and the Giants just don’t.

Atlanta’s RB Michael Turner had his second straight season with 1300 or more rushing yards and scored 11 touchdowns. Turner ranked 2 in rushing attempts with 301 but actually got less of a workload than he did last season and the Falcons are hoping that mixing in Jason Turner and Jacquizz Rodgers more into the mix they can keep Turner’s legs fresh. The Giants however have the worst rushing attack in the league and they have had a RB record over 100 yards in a game just twice this season. RB’s Ahmad Bradshaw and Brandon Jacobs combined for 1210 yards and 16 touchdowns which is disappointing since Bradshaw rushed for more yards than that alone last season. Clearly the potential is there but the Giants ranked dead last in rushing yards and yards per attempt.

The Falcons ranked 6th in rush defense but it will likely be their 20th ranked pass defense that will consistently challenged. Which allowed 25 passing touchdowns but also picked off 19 passes led by S Thomas DeCoud. Atlanta has been able to miss the injury bug for the most part on the defensive side of the ball but the Giants have been struggling to stay healthy in nearly every position in all there has been 6 corners and 3 linebackers who have missed an extended amount of time as well as injuries to DE Osi Umenyiora but the G-Men have seen some great talent emerge from the depth chart. The biggest impact has come from 22 year old DE Jason Pierre-Paul who recorded 16.5 sacks while New York recorded 48 team sacks which was 3rd best in the NFL. They recorded 11 sacks in their final 2 games and they rely heavily on their pass rush with their depleted defensive backfield. The Giants have 32 sacks in their 11 wins but when they had lost 4 games in a row they had just 5 team sacks during that stretch.

This is going to be a great game but since the Falcons are forced to travel to New York there is a lot more pressure on them. It will depend on the Giants ability to get at Ryan and force him to make some mistakes because if he has time he can exploit New York’s 29th ranked pass defense. I think that it will be an uphill battle but the Falcons will prevail because of their ability to rely on a solid rushing game whereas Eli has been forced to do it almost all through his arm. I think this is going to be a close game and may come down to the final drive but I am taking Atlanta 31-28.

  1. Annie says:

    Carlo De Rossi jugwine . . . . really?!? Reminds me of an old TV show : “Only the facts . . .” !!
    However, I do agree with your prediction!! Poor Tom Coughlin :((

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