Julio Jones and Roddy White make the best receiving tandem the Giants face this season. **
JOHN SCHMEELK: Fact -No other team on the Giants schedule has a duo with the experience and production of Jones and White. The latter may not have the breakaway speed he did earlier in his career, but White is a pro's pro and a great route runner. Jones is as dynamic and dangerous as any receiver in the league.
The Falcons will challenge the Giants with him down the field.
DAN SALOMONE: Fact -They're one of the best tandems out there, period. As cornerback Dominique Roders-Cromartie explained this week, they're so difficult to defend at the same time because on one hand, you have a savvy vet in Roddy White who understands coverages as well an anyone.
Meanwhile, you have to play a physical game with Julio Jones and challenge him. But the problem is he's bigger, stronger and faster than most, which makes him a threat to score on short or deep passes.
LANCE MEDOW: Fact - **No other tandem comes close to their resumes, experience and versatility. Julio Jones and Roddy White have six combined Pro Bowl appearances and eight combined seasons with at least 80 receptions and 1,100 receiving yards.
From 2007 to 2012, White had at least 83 catches and 1,100 receiving yards in each season. At 33, he's certainly past his prime but despite getting up there in age, White still posted 80 receptions, 921 receiving yards and 7 touchdowns in 14 games in 2014. Jones has dealt with some injuries during his first four seasons in the NFL but, when healthy, he's arguably a top five receiver in the league.
The only other tandem the Giants will see this season that is worthy of some consideration is Washington's DeSean Jackson and Pierre Garcon but those two aren't as decorated and dynamic as Jones and White.
The Giants will have at least three sacks vs. Atlanta.
JOHN SCHMEELK: Fiction -The Falcons offensive line has had its struggles, but against the Eagles on Monday night they ran a lot of max protection and had Matt Ryan get rid of the ball awfully quickly. They also made sure to keep their offense balanced by running the football. The Giants will get their first sack of the year, probably two, but I'll guess they won't get to three.
DAN SALOMONE: Fact -While the Giants would take three takeaways and no sacks any time like they did in the opener, it might look like more of the reverse on Sunday. The 2012 meeting aside, the Giants have had Matt Ryan's number. The Atlanta quarterback is 1-3 against them, including the Wild Card meeting in the 2011 postseason.
He has thrown just one interception, but the Giants sacked him six times in those meetings. Getting to the quarterback has been a major emphasis this week, and it could translate to the field as defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo keeps adding more and more to his scheme.
LANCE MEDOW: Fiction -The Giants had no sacks in Week 1 against the Cowboys and when they met the Falcons in Week 5 last season, they only collected one sack against an offensive line that had lost two starters due to season-ending injuries the week before.
Atlanta addressed its offensive line this offseason and the group has vastly improved from 2014 in terms of pass protection and run blocking. Given that development plus the fact that the Eagles only sacked Matt Ryan once Monday night, I don't see the Giants collecting at last three sacks.
The 2011 NFL Draft was the best in the last decade.
JOHN SCHMEELK: Fact -The beauty of the 2011 NFL Draft is that there were no busts in the first 17 picks, spare three quarterbacks (Jake Locker, Blaine Gabbert, Christian Ponder). The top part of the draft is filled with All-Pros: two of the best receivers in the league in Julio Jones and AJ Green; perhaps the best offensive tackle in the league in Tyron Smith; two of the league's best defensive linemen in Robert Quinn and JJ Watt (maybe the best defender in all of football); Aldon Smith was a great pass rusher before his off the field issues sidelined him; Von Miller and Marcell Dareus are beasts; Patrick Peterson is a top cover corner; and by the way, Prince Amukamara, Jimmy Smith and Richard Sherman were also picked later on in the draft. There was also value outside of the top ten.
Ryan Kerrigan went 16th. Muhammad Wilkerson went 30th. Randall Cobb went 64th. Justin Houston and DeMarco Murray went back to back at 70 and 71. And by the way, even though those three early quarterbacks didn't work out, Cam Newton went first overall and both Andy Dalton and Colin Kaepernick went in the second round. Best. Draft. Ever.
Keep an eye on these five players as the Giants face the Falcons in Week 2
DAN SALOMONE: Fact - **In a draft that produced first-round picks Prince Amukamara for the Giants and Julio Jones for the Falcons, 2011 keeps growing into one of those years that will be talked about for a long time. From Cam Newton to Von Miller, A.J. Green and Patrick Peterson, the first seven picks -- and 12 of the first 16 -- have all made the Pro Bowl. You have J.J. Watt, Tyron Smith, and the list goes on and on all the way to Richard Sherman in the fifth round.
LANCE MEDOW: Fact -Cam Newton, Von Miller, Marcell Dareus, AJ Green, Patrick Peterson, Julio Jones. Those were the top six picks in the 2011 NFL Draft. Each of those players has made at least two Pro Bowl appearances and they've combined for 17.
The depth of this draft, specifically in the first round, goes way beyond the top six picks. Tyron Smith at 9, JJ Watt at 11, Nick Fairley, Robert Quinn, Mike Pouncey and Ryan Kerrigan from 13 to 16 respectively, Prince Amukamara was selected at 19, Cameron Jordan with the 24th overall pick, Mark Ingram at 28 and Muhammad Wilkerson at 30. There were plenty of other notable players taken in 2011: Randall Cobb (2nd round), Justin Houston and DeMarco Murray back to back (3rd round), Jordan Cameron (4th round) and Richard Sherman (5th round).
That group outside of the top six has combined for 21 Pro Bowl appearances and showcases two of the top offensive linemen in the game today in Smith and Pouncey and some of the most dynamic pass rushers across the league, highlighted by arguably the top two defensive players in the league in Watt and Houston. You need at least three or four years to evaluate draft classes, so 2013 through 2015 don't apply and from 2006 to 2010, there's not nearly as much depth as 2011.
Matt Ryan is the best quarterback in the NFC South.
JOHN SCHMEELK: Fact -I know a lot of people would probably chuck beads at me while shouting "DREW BREES YOU IDIOT!" but I'm going with Matt Ryan.
Brees has struggled with turnovers in recent seasons and is nearing the end of his career. Ryan, meanwhile, is right smack in the middle of his prime, and despite some postseason failures, is extremely consistent year to year. He could quarterback my team any day.
DAN SALOMONE: Fiction -Keep writing off Drew Brees -- and Peyton Manning out West while you're at it. Let's see how that turns out. Brees has passed for 56,388 yards and 397 touchdowns, which are both fourth-most in the history of the NFL behind Dan Marino. Oh, and Brees has a Super Bowl ring with the matching Pete Rozelle MVP Trophy.
LANCE MEDOW: Fact -Although it's very rare, I actually agree with John that Matt Ryan is arguably the best quarterback in the NFC South. That's my answer based on the current landscape of the game and where Ryan and Drew Brees are in their careers. However, that doesn't mean when it's all said and done Ryan will be looked at as the better overall/more accomplished quarterback. It simply means that at 30 years old, Ryan is in his prime and playing his best football, whereas Brees, at 36, is heading toward the tail end of this career.
With that being said, Brees is still going strong as he's thrown for at least 4,300 yards and 33 touchdowns in each of the last seven seasons. His completion percentage fell below 65 just once during that span. Ryan has been fairly consistent since his rookie campaign in 2008 but his numbers really jump off the page since 2011. In each of the last four seasons, he's thrown for at least 4,100 yards and 26 touchdowns with his completion percentage dipping below 66 just once.
What's even more impressive is Ryan hasn't had a consistent offensive line or running game during this stretch. Despite the lack of a balanced offense, Ryan continued to thrive and improve his accuracy. More than half the teams in the league would take him as their quarterback in a heartbeat.
Playmakers on Falcons first-team offense, defense, and special teams, presented by Nike