Sunday, January 1, 2012
Quick Take: Falcons at Giants
By Dan Graziano
Three things to know about next Sunday’s Atlanta Falcons-New York Giants wild-card game:
1. Another aerial assault. The Giants’ secondary has struggled throughout the second half of this season, and things don’t get any easier with the Falcons coming to town. Entering play Sunday, Atlanta ranked seventh in the league in pass yards per game and just 20th in rush yards per game. They like to throw the ball, and quarterback Matt Ryan has a variety of downfield options in wide receivers Roddy White and Julio Jones along with ageless tight end Tony Gonzalez. They run enough with Michael Turner to keep a defense honest, and they’re 22-3 over the past four seasons when Turner rushes for at least 100 yards. But the main problem for the Giants will be making sure to get everybody covered in the passing game.
2. King of the road. Used to be, Ryan was at his best at home in the Georgia Dome. But this year, Ryan’s been a more effective passer on the road -- at least when throwing deep. Entering Sunday’s home finale, in which he threw two touchdowns on 6-for-9 passing before coming out of the blowout game, Ryan’s completion percentage on deep throws was 42.9 on the road compared to 36.5 at home. And his Total QBR on deep throws on the road was 94.8 versus 54.0 at home. ESPN Stats & Information informs us that that’s the largest disparity in the league in that category. Expect Ryan and the Falcons to take some shots downfield and not to be intimidated by MetLife Stadium.
3. Head-to-head history. The Giants are 10-10 all-time against the Falcons and have won three in a row against them, but they haven’t seen them since Nov. 22, 2009, when the two teams hooked up in a wild game at the old Giants Stadium. New York coughed up a 14-point lead in the fourth quarter but ended up winning in overtime. Eli Manning had 384 yards and three touchdowns in that game. Atlanta has overhauled its past defense over the past couple of years, but they’ve been banged-up in the secondary and can be thrown on, as the Saints proved last Monday Night.