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New York Giants Vs. Atlanta Falcons: Week 15 Game Preview

December 16th, 2012 at 8:30 AM
By Paul Tierney

'Eli Manning' photo (c) 2012, Mike Morbeck - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/ It's gameday, folks. The New York Giants are currently sitting one game above the Washington Redskins and the Dallas Cowboys in the NFC East, without the benefit of holding a tiebreaker on either of their pursuing rivals. As Big Blue heads down to Atlanta to take on the Falcons, the team will be playing for control of their own destiny in 2012. The Falcons are 11-2 on the season, including a perfect 6-0 record from inside the Georgia Dome.

However, the Dirty Birds are coming off an ugly 10-point loss to the Carolina Panthers in Week 14. The Falcons may have the best record in the NFC, but their shaky performances over the last five weeks have led many to question their ability. The Giants have a chance to win this game, even without the likes of Prince Amukamara, Ahmad Bradshaw and Kenny Phillips. Let's take a look at what Big Blue must do in order to leave Atlanta with the divisional lead for at least one more week.

Gameplan

Get David Wilson Involved Early

We've heard the concerns about David Wilson coming out of Giants camp all season. He fumbles too much, he has problems in pass protection and he's just not reliable enough to have a prominent role in the offense. However, we saw No.22 break out of his shell last weekend to break the Giants franchise record for all purpose yards in a single game. He scored three touchdowns and was a primary contributor to Big Blue's crucial victory over the New Orleans Saints.

The Falcons are ranked 23rd in the NFL in rushing defense and just gave up 195 yards on the ground to the Panthers last Sunday. Stephen Nicholas and Sean Weatherspoon will match up well in coverage over the middle of the field, but the Giants are going to win this football game on the ground. David Wilson has game changing, big-play ability and is a threat to score a touchdown every time he touches the football.

The Giants need to get him involved early for the offense to be able to operate efficiently late in the game. Victor Cruz and Hakeem Nicks will get their chances, but David Wilson must be effective early on to keep Atlanta's defense on its heels.

Eli Must Be Elite

Eli Manning has been a bit of an enigma this season. He's had some throws where you are reminded why he is the proud owner of two Super Bowl MVP trophies. However, he's also made some throws that give fans flashbacks to 2004. By in large, Manning has had a productive season thus far with a banged up offensive line and wide receiver corp.

That said, Manning's shortcomings in 2012 can not solely be blamed upon the personnel around him. While throwing to the sidelines this season, Manning has thrown nine of his 13 interceptions and has completed just over 54 percent of his passes. Compare those statistics to the one interception and 68.8 completion percentage on passes thrown over the middle of the field. Ten of Manning's interceptions have come on passes thrown 20 yards or less.

Passes towards the sidelines are generally the toughest throws to make in the NFL. We can't expect every throw from Manning to be like the throw he made to Mario Manningham in Super Bowl XLVI. However, for the Giants to have a chance to win on Sunday, Eli has to make accurate reads and make plays based upon what the defense gives him. If he tries to force the ball into coverage, there is a good chance Atlanta's talented secondary will make him pay.

This game is going to be won or lost by the right arm of Eli Manning. It's imperative that he plays one of his best games of the season for the Giants to emerge victorious.

Play the Matchups on Defense

While examining the offenses that the Giants have truly struggled against this season, there is a common thread that unites each unit together. The Dallas Cowboys, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Redskins and Pittsburgh Steelers all have the ability to run and pass the football effectively with a single personnel group. The Giants have trouble matching up with teams that possess that capability.

For example, the Cowboys can lineup in an I-Formation with DeMarco Murray in the backfield Jason Witten down on the line and appear as if they are going to run the football. The Giants would normally match this personnel with Chase Blackburn in at middle linebacker and a single-high safety. However, if Tony Romo drops back to pass ,he would probably find Blackburn covering either a tight end or running back 15-yards down the field. This would normally end up in a big play for the offense.

Teams can create mismatches against the Giants by situationally exploiting the linebackers. Jacquian Williams is not a run stopper, Chase Blackburn doesn't cover well in the open field, Keith Rivers is relatively inexperienced, and the list goes on. There have been issues in the secondary all season as well. But Michael Boley aside, the Giants don't have any three down linebackers on the roster.

Fortunately, the Falcons are going to heavily tip their hand based upon the personnel they send out onto the field. If Michael Turner is in the game, chances are he is not going out for a pass. If Jacquizz Rodgers is on the field, there is a good chance he's not going to run his 5'6" frame up the middle of the defense.

Barring injuries, the Giants are going to be able to have the right players on the field to matchup with the Falcons' offense for the entirety of the game. This should prove valuable for the defense.

Key Matchup

Giants Receivers vs. Atlanta Secondary

Atlanta has speed at both linebacker and in the secondary. Similar to the Giants, the Falcons use their safeties in a variety of different coverage schemes that can cause confusion at the line of scrimmage for a quarterback. However, for the Giants to have an effective offense today, there is a relatively simple formula for the wide receivers: win the individual matchups.

Victor Cruz and Hakeem Nicks are two of the most dynamic receivers in the NFL. Martellus Bennett has come alive as of late to make big plays on offense. Domenik Hixon is reliable when healthy, and even Rueben Randle has shown big play ability. The Giants must get open down the field and make big plays for the team to win this game. Easier said then done, as Big Blue is playing an 11-2 team on the road. But, it's what has to happen for the Giants to come away with a win.

Big Game Alert

David Wilson

We saw the Giants rookie phenom explode onto the scene last weekend with a huge game. Wilson has the unique ability to change the game every time he gets the ball. We've always known about his speed in the open field. However, last weekend we saw a physicality from Wilson that was not evident in his first several games. Wilson broke tackles and punished every Saints defender that attempted to bring him down.

If he runs with the same physical style that we saw last weekend, we could see another big game from Wilson. All it takes is for one hole to open up for him to break a long touchdown run. Wilson brings big play ability to the Giants rushing attack, which is an aspect that has not been consistently present in this offense since the early days of Ahmad Bradshaw.

Prediction

The Falcons are a good football team, but they could be playing without Roddy White and Harry Douglas in this one. That would limit the weapons that Matt Ryan can make plays to, while putting an incredible amount of pressure on a rushing attack that garnered just 35 yards a week ago.

If the Giants offense is clicking, the defense should be able to stop an Atlanta offense without arguably their best receiver and a pathetic rushing attack. This is going to be a close, competitive game right down to the very end. However, the Giants don't lose very many football games in December and especially not when their backs are against the wall like they are this weekend. Look for Big Blue to rise to the occasion and hold onto first-place in the NFC East.

Giants 27, Falcons 23

Also…

Tags: Ahmad Bradshaw, Atlanta, Chase Blackburn, David Wilson, Domenik Hixon, Eli Manning, Football, Jacquian Williams, New York, New York Giants, NFC East, NFL, Prince Amukamara, Roddy White, Victor Cruz

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27 Responses to “New York Giants Vs. Atlanta Falcons: Week 15 Game Preview”

  1.  BigBlueScorpion says:

    Im on my way to atlanta im super excited it will be my first game in person :D

  2.  Dirt says:

    I’ve had a good feel for this team the last 3 weeks. If it holds up a 4th week, this will be a happy place around 4:30 today.

  3.  GOAT56 says:

    Good piece.

    I think more than Wilson getting involved early is the type of plays. Given that he is the starter this is the first game where getting him enough touches are not a concern. I think we need to get Wilson on the edges and quick hitters to take advantage of his speed. Also we need to get hit involved in the passing game. It will be interesting to see how much Gillbride changes his play calls due to Wilson being the #1.

  4.  kujo says:

    Josina Anderson ?@JosinaAnderson
    Victor Cruz told me he will honor t/ victims of the Sandy Hook elementary school tragedy by wearing Jack Pinto’s name on his cleats & gloves. Cruz told me that he reached out to Pinto’s family to offer his condolences after learning the 6yr old victim was a fan. Victor Cruz also told me that Jack Pinto’s family told him they are considering burying young Pinto in Cruz’s #80 Giants jersey.

  5.  GIANTT says:

    Up to now , havent the Giants best running games come from between the tackles ?
    I know that Wilson is MUCH faster than Bradshaw but Id prefer Wilson get his chances behind blocking that is not 5 yards behind him because he is so fast .Id like to see Wilson slide in behind Henry Hynoski and then use his speed to slip out from behind his block .The old fashioned running play that doesnt get used too much but could work very well with Wilson .
    So who are the backups at running back ? Torain and Lumpkin ? I hope they got reps in practice this week . I do expect the Giants to win but Atlanta will score more than 2 points .
    Of course Im expecting Wilson and the running game to have a big day . If that starts out well , then expect Eli to start chucking it to Cruz and Hixon and even Randle
    27-10 Giants

    •  kinsho says:

      With Amukamara and KP out, there’s no doubt that Atlanta will score more than 2 points.

      Besides, I rather we win a close one here only to embarrass them again in the playoffs.

  6.  Valid says:

    Giants 38-27
    Browns 17-10
    Steelers 23-13

    Division race effectively ends today.

    •  GOAT56 says:

      I see the same thing happening. I think a team like the browns are playing hard towards 8-8. I would be surprised if there wasn’t a strong defensive performance.

      The steelers this year are kind of like us. Their best is as good anyones but the have been extremely inconsistent. I trust them in a big game, at least this one.

    •  kinsho says:

      Lets hope….

      Im not worried about the Cowboys as much as Im worried about the Skins. I’ve always considered the Skins more of a division threat than the Cowboys. Even if the Browns win though, they still have a chance at that wild card…

  7.  Valid says:

    Also, assuming White suits up, I can’t imagine he is going to be even close to 100 percent. That is huge, especially given Atlanta’s lack of a ground game.

    •  GOAT56 says:

      He’s active

      •  Valid says:

        Yep. It’ll be interesting to see how the Giants approach this. I’m guessing they’ll put Hosley on the banged-up White to give the rook a bit of an easier time. Hosley is my big game alert for the day. I think he is going to have a breakout afternoon.

  8.  Dirt says:

    I think I heard on MSG Eli is 10-4 indoors in the regular season?

  9.  The Original G Man says:

    For me, this game has a playoff feel to it. As they’ve done time after time in the past, I think the Giants respond to the occasion with a big game.

    Giants – 38
    Falcons – 20

  10.  kinsho says:

    This….will be a shootout.

    As I said, the key here is to stop the running game, as pathetic as it may be. You let the Falcons know that neither of their running backs are going anywhere with the ball and Matt Ryan will be forced to COMPLETELY take the game in his own hands.

    With the deadly pass rush we have in combination with a hobbled Roddy White, we put enough pressure on Matty Ice to force turnovers.

    On the other side of the ball, I fully agree: David Wilson will need to have another stud performance. To me, the key matchup here becomes Wilson vs the Falcons linebackers (in particular, Sean Witherspoon).

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