Atlanta Falcons (10-6) @ New York Giants (9-7)
(Sunday 1:00 pm ET, 10:00 am PT)
Bottom line, the team that sticks with the run and finds success will win this game. Sure, this may not be the same Michael “the Burner” Turner in year’s past, but they have rookie Jacquizz Rodgers and the versatile Jason Snelling. They fell in love with the pass with the addition of rookie receiver Julio Jones. Already having Hall of Fame tight end Tony Gonzalez and Pro Bowl receiver Roddy White, they wanted quarterback Matt Ryan to be the guy and sling the ball to all their weapons. That to me, is where they continue to mistake their identity and questions their ability to succeed. They have a decent offensive line and a good linebacking core. Defensive end John Abraham is the star of this defense and anchors that defensive line. The biggest issue lay in their secondary. They have a couple nice players in Brent Grimes and Dunta Robinson, but they are far form being shut-down cover corners, and their safeties are average.
Most are picking the New York Football Giants as the most dangerous team in the playoffs. They have been here and done that. They disappoint at times, but they rise to adversity and the moment. Led by quarterback Eli Manning (not quite elite, but playing well). Their offense is loaded behind a good offensive line. Ahmad Bradshaw got healthy in the nick of time, and that 1-2 punch with Brandon Jacobs keep this offense balanced. A receiving core of Hakeem Nicks, Mario Manningham, and Victor Cruz will greatly challenge any defense. The defensive line is elite, and it helps to have Osi Umenyiora healthy and back on the field. He forms a force of a unit with Justin Tuck and Jason Pierre-Paul on the edges. They are solid at linebacker led by Mathias Kiwanuka and are for the most part, healthy in the secondary.
This game should be close throughout as both teams will look to establish the ground game and control the clock. The Giants have the better defense and the higher the scoring, the more it favors New York. They can play in ugly grind-it-out type games and in shootouts. They get to the quarterback and Matt Ryan won’t be able to overcompensate offensively if the running game doesn’t produce.
Giants 27, Falcons 17