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10 Things To Watch For

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10 things to watch for vs. Falcons

1. You are what your record says you are. When the schedule was released in April, the Giants and Falcons didn't expect to have three wins combined at this point in the season. But that is where the 1-5 Giants and 2-4 Falcons find themselves, sitting at the bottom of their respective divisions with the first half of their 2018 campaigns nearly finished. Big Blue lost its third consecutive game last week while Atlanta snapped its own three-game skid before their Week 7 meeting.

"We got one [victory]," coach Pat Shurmur said. "To get the next one, and the next one, and the next one, that's the goal. Teams fight through adversity and it's in the Giants' DNA to pull this thing out. I've seen it, I've studied the history of it, and I like the locker room that we've assembled. I'm impressed with the guys that we have in the locker room, and I know they're going to fight. I watched the games just like you have and coached the games – these guys fight, and these guys have enthusiasm. We just haven't executed, and I'll keep saying that until we do. And when we win the game, you know what I'm going to say? We executed better but we still made a lot of mistakes."

2. Are you ready for some football? After losing last Thursday night at home to the Eagles, the Giants had 11 days until their next game on Monday night in Atlanta. The Giants are 24-38-1 on Monday night, including 15-28-1 as the away team. The Falcons, meanwhile, are 14-27 in the primetime slot but have won their last four Monday night games. The Giants are 8-4 all-time at Atlanta, but this will be their first visit to Mercedes-Benz Stadium, which opened in 2017 and will be host to this season's Super Bowl.

3. Engram, Ellison set to return. The Giants played without Evan Engram and Rhett Ellison, their top two tight ends, last week. But both are on track to return on Monday night. Engram, whose hometown is 20 miles northwest of Mercedes-Benz Stadium, missed three games because of a knee injury, and Ellison was not in uniform for the first time as a Giant because of a foot issue. Wide receiver Jawill Davis (concussion) has been ruled out of the game. Right guard Patrick Omameh (knee) and wide receiver Russell Shepard (neck) are questionable. Left tackle Nate Solder (neck) and outside linebacker Olivier Vernon (ribs) are full-go.

4. Falcons' injury problems. The Falcons this week placed running back Devonta Freeman on the injured reserve list, where he joined a pair of 2017 Pro Bowlers in linebacker Deion Jones (foot) and safety Keanu Neal (ACL). Atlanta's other starting safety, Ricardo Allen, is also on injured reserve with a torn Achilles tendon. Starting left guard Andy Levitre is also out for the season. Kicker Matt Bryant (hamstring) and wide receivers Mohamed Sanu (hip) and Calvin Ridley (ankle) have also been dealing with injuries.

5. The Amazing Saquon. With 100 scrimmage yards against the Falcons, running back Saquon Barkley would join Kareem Hunt (2017) as the only players in league annals with at least 100 scrimmage yards in seven consecutive games to begin their career. Additionally, he would become the seventh rookie in NFL history to record seven consecutive games at any point in a season with at least 100 scrimmage yards. Hall of Famer Eric Dickerson holds the record with 10 in 1983 for the Rams. Barkley is also on pace for 2,163 scrimmage yards and 16 scrimmage touchdowns. The franchise records are 2,390 yards by Tiki Barber in 2005 and 21 touchdowns by Joe Morris in 1985.

6. Odell and Julio down by the schoolyard. Monday night will feature the top two players in NFL history in yards receiving per game (minimum 50 games). Odell Beckham Jr.'s 93.0-yard average is second only to Julio Jones' 96.7. Despite their historic production, however, they have just one touchdown -- Beckham in Week 5 at Carolina -- between them through six games this season.

7. Matty Ice. Falcons quarterback and former NFL MVP Matt Ryan is in the top five in most passing categories, averaging 326 yards per game with 14 touchdowns to just two interceptions. He is 2-3 against the Giants, including the 2011 wild card loss en route to Big Blue's last Super Bowl title. Ryan, however, did defeat the Giants in their last meeting in 2015 at MetLife Stadium.

8. Keys to the game. The Falcons have the worst third-down defense in the NFL at 56.2 percent, while their offense is second-best at 49.4 percent. The Giants are converting third downs 37.8 percent of the time on offense, and allowing conversions 39.0 percent of the time on defense. In the red zone, the Falcons are tied for fourth on offense (69.6 percent) and 30th on defense (77.8). The Giants are 29th (43.8) and seventh (44.0), respectively.  

9. Takeaways, sacks at a premium. Atlanta has turned the ball over just three times, fewest in the NFL. The Falcons, who go on their bye next week, are plus-4 in turnover differential, while the Giants are minus-4. Meanwhile, both teams rank in the bottom quarter of the NFL in number of sacks, a statistic Olivier Vernon is trying to improve for Big Blue. After missing the first five games of the season with an ankle injury, the veteran outside linebacker returned last week and had a sack against the Eagles.

10. Bettcher's Rx. The offensive struggles have gotten a lot of ink this season, but the Giants' defense has now allowed 33, 33 and 34 points in their last three outings. Granted, those came against elite quarterbacks in Drew Brees, Cam Newton and Carson Wentz. But defensive coordinator took the extended time off to try to cure his group's ailments.

"We went to the meeting room on Friday before we left for a couple days," Bettcher said, "and we talked to our guys when we came in after the break, we talked to them … about some things at each position group -- what do we need to do better? Nothing to do with Atlanta. What do we need to do better at each position group? It's like when sometimes you go to the doctor, you go see him, what do they give you? They give you a prescription for what you need. We look at it that way; it's a prescription. Here are the things we need to do better at each position group, and some places, it's individually, then what we focus on in our individual is we focus on those things."

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