Can the New York Giants win on Monday night against the Atlanta Falcons and maybe, just maybe, have an opportunity at rescuing their season over the nine games that will follow? Or, will they fall to 1-6 and have to begin thinking seriously about 2019?
The Giants are 4.5-point underdogs to the 2-4 Falcons. Here are the picks from your Big Blue View contributors.
There is absolutely no reason to pick the Giants to win this game. Their defense has generally held poor offenses in check, while eventually collapsing in the face of high-octane offenses. The Giants’ own offense has an extreme identity crisis. The brain trust wants them to be a hard-nosed, “ground and pound” offense in an era that favors the pass more than any other in the history of American rules football, and also managed to almost completely flub their offensive line rebuild. They might have the most dangerous collection of explosive playmakers of any team in the NFL and quarterback who is at his best (even this year), when he can attack defenses down the field. But They genuinely, stubbornly, seem to want to run a “ball control” passing offense, and are loathe to call plays beyond 5 yards down the field.
The one tendency the Giants have shown over the course of the season is that they have shown some inclination toward attacking defenses in odd weeks (1, 3, and 5). This just so happens to be an odd week (7), with the Giants coming off of one of their worst abhorrent offensive performances in memory (recent or otherwise).
Also worth noting, Saquon Barkley has “evaded” 42 tackles this season (7 per game), per PlayerProfiler.com while the Falcons have missed 64 tackles (10.7 per game) this season.
Which team has missed the most tackles?— Andrew Siciliano (@AndrewSiciliano) October 18, 2018
@NFLResearch NextGen Stats pic.twitter.com/irWhfa4K6I
Likewise, for all the Falcons’ offensive firepower — and they do field one of the most dangerous passing offenses in the league — they haven’t done a great job of protecting Matt Ryan, giving up 17 sacks on the season. With Olivier Vernon back in the fold, perhaps the Giants can disrupt their offense.
So, what am I saying? Well, it’s mostly that the Giants have given me no confidence in them. However, I do think that we’re due for them to have the kind of game where they look like they’re about to click and head in the right direction.
Final score: Giants 33, Falcons 27
Season record: 3-3
These two teams are surprisingly close by DVOA — 23rd for the Giants and 24th for the Falcons — which is not something anyone would have expected heading into the season. Atlanta is 2-4, but only one loss came by more than one score.
On offense, the Giants will have to figure out why they can’t get the ball downfield on a consistent basis, and if they can’t find it out against Atlanta, there’s not much hope going forward. The Falcons are 31st in defensive DVOA and 26th in big play rate allowed. They’re also 21st in DVOA against opposing No. 1 receivers and 26th against running backs in the passing game. There’s really no excuse to not get something going on that side of the ball.
But as much as the Giants should have an advantage there, the Falcons should have a bigger advantage when they have the ball. Atlanta is 11th in offensive DVOA, but with a big split — sixth in passing DVOA and 30th in rushing DVOA. But the Falcons aren’t a team that’s going to waste a lot of time running for no gain when they can just throw the ball to their running backs instead. Then when the Falcons get to actually throwing the ball, it’ll be Julio Jones, Mohamed Sanu, and Calvin Ridley against Janoris Jenkins, Eli Apple, and B.W. Webb. Jenkins and Webb have both been inconsistent and while Apple had an impressive first two weeks of the season but has struggled and been picked on since his return — now down to 34th in yards allowed per play and 31st in success rate among 65 qualified cornerbacks per Sports Info Solutions/Football Outsiders.
One of these teams is probably going to score a lot of points, the other one might if things go right.
Final score: Atlanta 35, Giants 20
Season record: 5-1
Every time I use football logic in analyzing the matchups the Giants have, I end up getting burned.
But with that said, I‘m picking the Giants again this week because if there was a week for the Giants offense to snap out of its funk, this would be it.
The Falcons corners aren’t very good, so I would think Odell Beckham Jr. and Sterling Shepard could light things up this week. The Atlanta defense, which has been banged up, has also struggled to defend the run so if there was ever a week to free Saquon Barkley, this would be it.
Olivier Vernon is back and showed how disruptive he can be -- I like his matchup in this game.
The one matchup I’m still a little queasy about is Julio Jones vs. Janoris Jenkins only because of how Jenkins’ season has unfolded, but I think he should be able to minimize the damage done by Jones.
The biggest key for the Giants is to stop hurting themselves. Seriously, if this team plays as close to a mistake free game as possible, I think they can pull this one out and use it as a spark for the following week when they host Washington.
And if they don’t somehow find a way to get it done this week, then for real it’s time to close the coffin on the Giants 2018 season and start looking ahead to 2019.
Final score: Giants 36, Falcons 28
Season record: 2-4
Well it looks like I’m going to be overly optimistic yet again. I’m sure many analysts are picking for Atlanta to come out on top on Monday Night Football, but there is just too much upside in this game for the Giants.
The Falcons have had a porous defense most of the season, resulting in their shocking 2-4 start. Major injuries to key players in their secondary has been the cause of their low quality defense. If the Giants fail to rack up season highs across the board, then the play calling is surely to blame again.
Stopping Matt Ryan and company is going to be the deciding factor in this game. There is a very low likelihood of them keeping Atlanta below 30 points, considering who they have at the helm. Julio Jones will likely score his first touchdown this week, and Calvin Ridley will have another quality game.
This game will come down to holding the Falcons out of the end zone just enough for the Giants to squeak by. You should be expecting a shoot out in this one.
Final score: Giants 45, Falcons 38
Season record: 2-4
Final score: It’s hard to look at this Giants offense, in particular, and think that this team is built to go on the road in primetime and outscore the Falcons. While Atlanta has its weaknesses, such as pass-protection, the (lack of a) run game and a leaky defense, their passing has kept them competitive. Passing, meanwhile, has been a glaring weakness for the Giants, despite the numerous weapons at Eli Manning’s disposal.
Manning should have a fairly good day given the Falcons’ generous defense, but so much of it will be after-catch dependent based on the depth of Manning’s pass attempts this season. There is also not much I’ve seen from the Giants this season to think they can play with enough sustained aggression to close out this or any game. Perhaps with a win they can prove me wrong, but until and unless that happens, it’s going to be hard to predict wins instead of losses.
Final score: Atlanta 30, New York 13
Season record: 3-3
The return of Evan Engram and the shuffling of the offensive line might be the shot in the arm this offense needs to get back on track.
Or they could just be some rearranging of deck chairs on the Titanic.
From what we have seen so far this season, which would you lean towards?
Both of these teams have struggled so far this season, but Matt Ryan is putting together a pretty impressive season. His Adjusted Net Yards/Attempt of 8.46 is sixth-best in the league, and he is at or near the Top-5 in many passing categories. By contrast, Eli Manning has posted an ANY/A to date of just 5.79, behind such prolific passers as Joe Flacco, C.J. Beathard and Derek Carr.
Atlanta also got good news this week, as both Mohamad Sanu and Calvin Ridley were removed from injury reports.
Putting all of this together, it adds up to an Atlanta win.
Final score: Atlanta 34, New York 17
Season record: 2-4
I’m not sure if there are a lot of football fans that would have expected for the Giants and Falcons to have a combined 3-9 record at this point of the season. That being said, the Falcons are coming off a big win at home against the Buccaneers, while the Giants are coming off a 34-13 loss to the Eagles at home. I think the Falcons ride the momentum of last week’s win, pulling out a double-digit win over Eli Manning and company.
Final score: Falcons 31, Giants 17
Season record: 3-2
Sure, there are reasons to be optimistic about the Giants’ chances for an upset on Monday. The Falcons are only 2-4. They are ravaged by injuries. They are giving up 32.0 points per game, 31st in the league.
Let’s be real, though. The Falcons won double-digit games each of the past two seasons and went to the Super Bowl in 2016. They are at home in a raucous dome. The Giants are 1-5 and they haven’t beaten a good team yet. You can argue they should have beaten the Carolina Panthers, but they didn’t.
I was in the locker room last week and the Giants still believe that if they can just get a win on Monday night they can use it as a springboard to having a better second half of the season. Maybe so, and maybe they can get that win. The Falcons do look vulnerable, and I do believe the Giants will show improvement over the coming weeks.
Still, I’ve been fooled by this Giants team too many times. Before I pick them to go on the road and beat a good team on a national stage I need them to prove to me that they can do it.
Final score: Falcons 34, Giants 30
Season record: 2-4