When the Atlanta Falcons visit the New York Giants on Sunday, a lot will be on the line for both teams. Atlanta is facing a Giants team with two straight victories, and they seem to be primed for a huge turnaround. Atlanta is coming off a road loss to the Minnesota Vikings, so they are in desperate need of a victory on Sunday.
In the first four games, Atlanta has split between wins and losses. They commenced the season with a breakout win over the New Orleans Saints. However, the win looked much more impressive right after the game than it does three weeks later. After losing to the undefeated Cincinnati Bengals, Atlanta returned home for a 56-14 win over Tampa Bay. Once again, Atlanta was riding high, but that feeling faded down the stretch against the Minnesota Vikings.
Now Atlanta is facing their second straight road game with a lot on the line. The Falcons are (1-4) in their last five road games, and they haven’t won away from home since December 1, 2013 against the Buffalo Bills. The sooner they earn a road victory, the better for the whole organization.
Matt Ryan has been dominant at home, but he has not garnered the same success on the road. Ryan has 10 touchdown passes this season compared to five interceptions. Unfortunately for Atlanta, Ryan has throw all of his interceptions on the road. If that trend continues in New York, Atlanta will return home below .500.
Eli Manning has also thrown five interceptions in the first four games. It is known that Manning has been wildly inconsistent, but in the last two weeks, he’s only given up one interception. The entire Giants’ offense has displayed improvement, and that should concern Atlanta’s defense.
Atlanta only had 22 rushing attempts in the loss to Minnesota. It’s simply not enough of a ground attack for a team that struggles on the road. Part of the problem was that Minnesota jumped out to an early lead. The Falcons can’t afford to let the Giants score a couple of touchdowns without responding immediately.
The Vikings played smash mouth football for a lot of the game with 43 carries, and New York has the ability to do the same thing with Rashad Jennings. He has 341 yards rushing and averages 20 attempts per game this season. Conversely, Steven Jackson leads the Falcons with 201 yards and 12.5 carries per game. It could be time for Antone Smith to receive more rushing attempts. Smith is averaging 11.9 yards per carry this season, but he only has 10 attempts so far.
By the end of the season, this could be a game that’s reflected upon. With both teams at (2-2), the winner of this game might be the one that helps earn a playoff bid over the other. Currently, Atlanta is tied with Carolina for the NFC South lead, and the Giants are in third place behind Philadelphia and Dallas.