The New York Giants try to climb above the .500 mark for the first time since the 2012 season Sunday when they face the Atlanta Falcons. Will they get there? Let's see what your Big Blue View staff members think will happen this afternoon at MetLife Stadium.
The Falcons are missing three offensive linemen who started for them last Sunday. They are 0-2 on the road this season. They went 1-7 on the road last season. They have a horrid defense. The Giants roll into this game pretty much as healthy as they could possibly be five games into an NFL season, having won two straight games in which they scored 75 points and forced nine turnovers.
Historically during the Tom Coughlin era this is EXACTLY the kind of game in which you could anticipate the Giants laying an egg. Only a don't expect that at all Sunday afternoon. There is a nagging voice in the back of my head saying that is possible, and it is because we certainly have seen it enough times. My expectation, though, is that what you are going to see is a quality performance from the improving Giants.
The Giants face a six-game gauntlet after Sunday that includes the Dallas Cowboys twice, the Philadelphia Eagles, Indianapolis Colts, San Francisco 49ers and Seattle Seahawks. If they want to contend for a playoff spot this is a game the Giants absolutely have to win. I believe that they will do just that.
This is the type of game that has historically scared me. A team that is bad on one (or more, but in this case one) side of the ball, beat up, and bad on the road is coming to town. In short, the type of game the Giants should be heavily favored to win coming off a convincing win the week before.
But this Giants team really doesn't feel like the Giants of years past.
Even discounting 2013, the offense always seemed balanced on a razor's edge between being a beautiful juggernaut and mind-exploding failure. Fourth quarter of the Cardinals game aside, the last three weeks have shown an offense that is aggressive, yet measured and under control.
Some brain farts aside, the defense is playing as a unit, and playing well against the run and pass. And add to that a Falcons team that has lost 2-3 starters on their OL (as I'm writing this), and Giants' fans know the kind of havoc that can wreak on an offense.
I'm scared. On paper, the New York Giants should technically wipe the floor with an Atlanta Falcons team that is traveling on the road and that likely has three new starters on the offensive line and a defense that's among the worst in football. The Falcons don't run it very well, while the Giants are a tremendous run defense team, so they will be forced to air it out, making it easy pickings for the ballhawking secondary. Yet, I'm still worried.
This seems like exactly the type of game the Giants lose every single year. Ben McAdoo stated in a recent press conference that he told his offense "the biggest challenge we face this year is how we'll handle success." This is a team much younger than in prior years, with lots of new faces. It wouldn't exactly surprise me if they faced a setback this week, looking forward to a much tougher Philadelphia Eagles team. I know the Giants match up well, but I can just see Matt Ryan getting the ball out quickly and exposing the team's linebackers. Jon Beason and Devon Kennard could potentially see playing time, but they will be sorely tested. Also, Devin Hester seems to be the kind of player that kills the Giants, and we know his playing time will be increased this game. So, I'm predicting an upset. I hope I'm terribly, awfully wrong.
Pick: Falcons 34, Giants 30
(From Jesse's complete NFL picks against the spread)
I've picked against the Giants three times this year and unfortunately was right two of those times. But never again! Well, this week at least. I actually like the match-up for the Giants. The Falcons have one of the worst defenses in the league and I think the Giants will control the line of scrimmage on offense with their run game. The Falcons have put up a ton of points and yardage, but they are going to be down three starting offensive linemen in the game vs. the Giants, and as Giants fans know offensive lines can take time to gel. The Giants should be able to make the Falcons one-dimensional, and the Giants spent a lot of resources into making their secondary ultra-talented. Things, on paper, look good for the Giants this weekend, and hopefully they can deliver.