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Keys To Sunday's Game

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Keys to the game on Sunday...

I'll do Giants first...

1. Make the Falcons one dimensional - I think the biggest key for NY is to turn the Falcons into a passing team. The greatest strength of their team is their pass rush and if they can stop the run early and build a lead and force the Falcons to play catch up. When JPP, Tuck and Umenyiora know where a quarterback is going to be, there is going to be trouble.

2. Attack the Atlanta secondary - The strength of Atlanta's defense is the front 7, and though the Falcons have been having some trouble the past month or so stopping the run, they have been pretty stout overall throughout the season. The secondary has been another story, especially when the d line is unable to generate a pass rush. The Giants can look to Atlanta's games vs the Packers and Saints to see just how much damage a very good Quarterback can do against the Falcons Zone coverage schemes. Manning is an aggressive passer who is going to take shots (though I do think he is a bit prone to turnovers), like the old saying goes "you gotta spend money to make money" and Manning is definitely not afraid to attack a defense.

3. Don't turn the ball over - I know it generally goes without saying, but if you can protect the football you have a great chance of winning. The Falcons seem to be hitting a nice stride, and if you are the Giants you don't want to give them any easy scores. As stated in 2, Manning has a tendency to press at times and can get a little careless with the football (though I will say this year he did a nice job limiting his interceptions). If he can stay clean with the football it definitely increases the Giants chances.


1. (The obvious one) Slow down the NY pass rush - I think that anyone picking the Giants to win this game is going to point to the pass rush as the reason why. With Umenyiora healthy again, this is without a doubt the most dangerous part of the team. If we can get things blocked we have a chance to really take advantage of the back end of their defense which is banged up, and frankly not that good. Their rush does a great job of covering up their secondary, so if we can keep them under control things will be okay. Running the football is going to be HUGE in this game. We can't win with 50 dropbacks on Sunday.

2. 3rd down Defense - Our Achilles Heel for God knows how long. We need to be able to get off the field on 3rd down. The most frustrating part is that we spent all kinds of money on a certain pass rusher, and we have 3rd and 8 plus (ie obvious passing situations) where the QB has all day to throw. We have to be able to generate a pass rush and force bad throws on 3rd downs. We need to see a 4-11 type day on 3rd downs, not a 9-9 first half type of effort. Manning is a very good QB and we have to be able to limit his opportunities.

3. Pass rush, pass rush, pass rush - Much like the Giants, the Falcons secondary is the weakest link on the defense, and the Giants are built to take advantage of that (Cruz and Nicks are two dang good WR's). We need a nice effort from our pass rush... and it has to be more than just Abe. I know the Predator will show up, but if there is no one else getting a push the Giants can focus on double teaming him. This type of game is the game that we spent all that money on Edwards. It's time for him to stop the excuses and make an impact (.2 sacks/game - his season average, is not good enough and it's not going to help us win this game).

In summary I feel like the Falcons are the better team coming in and if we don't win it's going to definitely be a huge letdown. Talent wise I give the Falcons the edge (no knock on the Giants, they have a dangerous team as well) but the HFA def narrows that gap. Turner's going to keep them honest, and Jones/White/Gonzo/Douglas are going to be too much for them to handle. I'm taking the Falcons 27-17 with the game staying close until the end.

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