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Wednesday, January 4, 2012
Weather could be a factor on Sunday

By Kieran Darcy

The five-day forecast for East Rutherford, N.J., currently predicts rain and snow showers on Sunday, with a high temperature of 43 degrees.

That could spell trouble for the Atlanta Falcons, who play half their games each year indoors at the Georgia Dome. But Falcons coach Mike Smith did not sound too worried about the weather on Wednesday.

"I don't think that's gonna be a concern," Smith said on a conference call with Giants reporters. "Most of our guys are accustomed to playing outside. I think we're a mudder team, and an indoor team."

The Falcons were 6-2 at home this season, losing to the Packers (25-14) and the Saints (26-23 in OT), and 4-4 on the road. But Atlanta can run the ball -- Michael Turner rushed for 1,340 yards on the season -- so that will help in wintry weather.

Also, quarterback Matt Ryan previously played at Boston College, so he has some experience with Northeast conditions.

As for the Giants, coach Tom Coughlin is confident in his team's ability to handle bad weather, too.

"I think we will run the ball, hopefully better than we did last weekend for example," said Coughlin in his news conference Wednesday morning. "Eli [Manning] has in the past thrown the ball very, very well despite any kind of weather. And that's always been an amazing thing to me.

"We'll take care of whatever weather presents itself."

Coughlin also revealed that the Giants have analyzed the Falcons' play this season indoors versus outdoors. "We've done a little bit of studying that," said Coughlin, "and the difference between outside and inside is not that different this year."

But linebacker Michael Boley, who played for the Falcons for four seasons before joining the Giants in 2009, thinks Atlanta will be affected. "I think it’s a factor," said Boley. "When you spend most of your season in a dome, it’s different once you actually get out in the elements, and especially being up north in the cold."

Safety Kenny Phillips agreed. "I’ve been here for four years, I still get chills when I play in this stadium!" Phillips said. "It is freezing up here. I think it probably will affect them a little bit."