OK, time to get serious. Our New York Giants need a win today against the Atlanta Falcons. In my usual, 'Kudos & Wet Willies' style here is how I see things breaking down this afternoon in the Meadowlands.
There will be lots of 'Kudos' Monday if ...
- They overcome the loss of Antonio Pierce's defensive 'quarterbacking.' Say what you want about Pierce and his apparently declining physical skills, losing your defensive signal-caller and a player as smart as AP at this point in the season could be devastating. We love Chase Blackburn and he is a bettter athlete than Pierce, but I saw him get blown off the ball too many times while playing the middle during the pre-season to feel really good about him anchoring the middle. And nobody has a clue what Jonathan Goff could bring to the table.
- Pressure on Matt Ryan. Without Michael Turner, the Falcons will still try to run the ball. They will likely have to rely on Ryan to make more plays, however, and the Giants have got to get pressure on him. He has been mistake-prone in recent weeks, and it sure would be nice to see the pass rush force a couple of game-changing bad throws. Hopefully, they can do it with the front four. If not, let's hope Bill Sheridan turns Clint Sintim and Michael Boley loose on some blitzes. Oh, and let's pray he forgets about that zone blitz nonsense.
- The Giants handle Tony Gonzalez. Covering the tight end has not been a strong suit for the Giants, and Ryan will be looking Gonzalez way a lot. If Boley, and possibly Sintim, can neutralize him that can go a long way toward slowing the Atlanta offense.
- The Giants ride Brandon Jacobs. I have said repeatedly recently that Jacobs has been under-utilized during the four-game losing streak. The Falcons are 26th in the league against the run, and there is no excuse for the Giants not to pound Jacobs 20 times or so today in what is really their biggest "must win" game of the season to date.
- The Giants hit some big passing plays. That doesn't necessarily mean chucking the ball 50 yards downfield on 3rd and 2, but the Falcons have been susceptible to giving up big chunks of yardage at times. The Giants have not hit a big play in recent weeks, and they will need to today.
There will be lots of 'Wet Willies' Monday if ...
- Atlanta runs the ball effectively. With Turner likely out, the Giants need to make the Falcons one-dimensional. The opportunity is there, and the front seven simply has to force the Atlanta offense to be pass-happy.
- The Red/Green Zone issues continue. Both teams are 5-4. Both are imperfect. This could be a close game. Taking advantage of offensive opportunities, and a couple of big defensive stops, could make the difference.
- The special teams woes continue. It seems like every week some aspect or another of the Giants special teams has broken down. Jeff Feagles has been horrible recently. The kickoff coverage has been spotty. Lawrence Tynes struggled early on. The Giants have not had a difference-making return in weeks.