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New York Giants notes: Falcons story should sound familiar

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Reading about the 5-4 Atlanta Falcons these days feels an awful lot like reading about the 5-4 New York Giants.

Here is an example.

Matt Ryan is struggling. Michael Turner is hurting. Jason Elam can't seem to make a field goal.

Yep, the Falcons definitely have plenty of things to worry about as they head into a decisive stretch of the season.

Now, at a time when some doubts may creeping into the team psyche, the Falcons face three games over the next four weeks that will likely determine the course of this season.

Coming off a surprising trip to the playoffs last season, the Falcons were convinced this would be the year they finally broke the franchise's streak of never having consecutive winning seasons. A 3-1 start certainly bolstered those hopes, but two wins in the last five games have undoubtedly caused some to wonder if that ignominious streak will continue.

"It's not about just being average," receiver Roddy White said. "A lot of us are going out there saying, 'I've got one job, I'll just do that.'... We've all got to get out there and do more, be more productive."

The Falcons are being vague about the status of Turner, the star running back who has a high ankle sprain.

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There is also concern about a sophomore slump for Ryan, the young quarterback who was so impressive as a rookie. He has thrown 12 interceptions already this season, one more than he threw all of 2008. One blogger has even gone so far as to raise a comparison to Michael Vick.

We're all a little queasy about Ryan's slump because of our collective experience with the Falcons' last young phenom signal-caller. Mike Vick's best season was his first year as a starter. He regressed thereafter to the point that his Untergang was a blessing in disguise for the franchise. There is a slight sense of deja vu for Falcons fans with Ryan having played on a very high level as a rookie and then regressing as a second-year player.

Giants notes