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Fact or Fiction: Predictions for Giants vs. Falcons

Saquon Barkley will have more yards rushing than receiving on Monday night.

JOHN SCHMEELK: Fact - The Falcons defense is a mess. They are only one of two teams in the National Football League that have allowed multiple opponents to gain more than 500 yards in a game. (The Chiefs are the other.) The Falcons are missing three key defensive players in linebacker Deion Jones, safety Keanu Neal and safety Ricardo Allen, who are all on injured reserve. Their secondary has struggled mightily in pass coverage this year, which means the Giants should be able to complete passes to their wide receivers and tight end Evan Engram down the field, eschewing dump-offs to Saquon Barkley. The Falcons defense also struggles with tackling, which should show up against someone like Barkley, who can get away from even the best tacklers. I think Barkley sets a new career high in rushing yards against the Falcons on Monday night. The only thing that can stop him is going down early in the game and the Giants being forced to play from behind.

DAN SALOMONE: Fiction - He has mostly ping-ponged between weeks, having more yards rushing in Weeks 1, 3 and 6, and more receiving in Weeks 2, 4 and 5. This game has potential to turn into a track meet against the high-flying Falcons inside Mercedes-Benz Stadium in a primetime matchup. That means the passing game could open up with Barkley in store for another big night. Either way, just sit back and enjoy the rookie who is on pace for 2,000 yards from scrimmage, which would be just the fourth time it has happened in franchise history. Tiki Barber was responsible for the other three.

LANCE MEDOW: Fiction - Due to several injuries to key players, the Falcons’ defense has struggled thus far this season across the board. Atlanta ranks 29th in the NFL against the pass and is tied for 24th in the league against the run, so this is an attractive matchup for Saquon Barkley for many reasons. The Falcons have already faced two sversatile backs similar to Barkley in the Panthers’ Christian McCaffrey and Alvin Kamara of the Saints. McCaffrey collected 102 receiving yards compared to just 37 rushing yards, and Kamara piled up 129 receiving yards and 66 yards on the ground. Those two also combined for 29 receptions. If that’s any indication of how the Atlanta defense will look to defend Barkley, I’ll confidently say he’ll finish with more yards through the air than on the ground.

Matt Ryan/Julio Jones is the best quarterback/receiver tandem the Giants face this season.

JOHN SCHMEELK: Fact - This is a tough question with two other options. Number three on my overall list is Deshaun Watson-DeAndre Hopkins. Ahead of that paring in a tight race for first and second place is Drew Brees-Michael Thomas and Matt Ryan-Julio Jones. I consider Jones to be a slightly better player than Thomas, and Brees to be better that Ryan, making this tough. I will tip the cap to Jones-Ryan, since they have been together longer and have strung together so many successful years of success. Their inability to connect with one another in the end zone (0 TD’s for Jones this season) almost swung me to the Saints duo.

DAN SALOMONE: Fiction - Ryan and Jones are a tough matchup, but you can’t put them ahead of the all-time passing leader and a receiver on pace for 147 catches and 1,661 yards this season. That duo, of course, is the Saints’ Drew Brees and Michael Thomas. I don’t think this one is debatable.

LANCE MEDOW: Fiction -There are two duos to consider when taking this statement into consideration. Matt Ryan and Julio Jones versus New Orleans’ Drew Brees and Michael Thomas, who the Giants already faced in Week 4. You can make a strong case for both of these tandems. Jones and Thomas are both tall Pro Bowl receivers with great hands, but Jones has a lot more experience and proven track record compared to Thomas. On the other hand, Brees is a much more decorated quarterback than Ryan. Based on that analysis, it seems like a draw, but given the importance of the quarterback position, I’ll give Brees and Thomas the slight edge.

The Giants need to force multiple turnovers to win the game.

JOHN SCHMEELK: Fiction - The only game the Giants have won this year is the game they were on the positive side of turnover ratio against the Texans. Despite being +4 in turnover ratio this season with only three giveaways, the Falcons are still 2-4 due to their poor defense. The Giants are -4 with just five takeaways. I don’t see a great formula for the Giants taking the ball away from the Falcons. I do think the Giants can still win the game if they don’t turn the ball over themselves and break even in turnover ratio, or taking it away once without turning it over themselves. If the Giants do lose the turnover battle, they will be hard pressed to win.

DAN SALOMONE: Fact - The Giants need a jumpstart, and nothing shocks the system like forcing turnovers. That goes double when you’re looking to take the crowd out of the game on the road in a primetime matchup. Look for Landon Collins in this one. He is due as the two-time Pro Bowl safety has yet to record a sack, interception or forced fumble this season. “You see him running around the field, you see him in position to make some plays, and he’s just got to keep playing hard and those game-changing plays are going to come,” defensive coordinator James Bettcher said. “And they’re going to come in a bunch for him.” It will be tough to do, though. The Falcons have a league-low three turnovers, which is precisely the reason why the Giants need to force some to throw them off their game.

LANCE MEDOW: Fact -It’s no coincidence that the Giants’ lone win this season came against the Texans when the Giants won the turnover battle. In their five losses this season, they’ve also come out on the losing end of the turnover battle. Atlanta showcases one of the best offenses in the NFL, as it is averaging nearly 400 total yards and 28 points per game. The Giants need to find a way to limit the Falcons’ possessions; however, that’s easier said than done. Atlanta has just three turnovers in six games, and those three giveaways came over three of the six contests, so in half of their games this season, the Falcons have had no turnovers.

The NFC and AFC East divisions combined are better than their South counterparts.

JOHN SCHMEELK: Fiction - Sorry Eastern divisions, but this just isn’t so. The Patriots and Eagles may be the defending conference representatives in the Super Bowl, but the depth behind them is questionable. I don’t think any wild card teams come out of either Eastern division. The AFC South has the Jacksonville Jaguars and another strong defensive team in the Titans. The Houston Texans and Indianapolis Colts have flashed at times as well. The NFC South has two fairly good teams behind the Saints in the Falcons and Panthers. The Bucs can’t stop anyone but they can score some points. The Eastern divisions are top heavy but I’ll still go with the South!

DAN SALOMONE: Fact - Which two divisions played for a Super Bowl last year? The NFC East and AFC East. Which divisions boast the most Super Bowl titles? The NFC East is first with 13, and the AFC East is second with eight. Case closed.

LANCE MEDOW: Fiction -I think the NFC South is, arguably, the deepest division in the NFL. Both the Saints and Panthers have winning records, and I believe the Falcons are much better than their 2-4 record shows. Although the Bucs got off to a strong start with Ryan Fitzpatrick under center, now that Jameis Winston has returned, it wouldn’t surprise me if they start to regain some rhythm. While three of the four teams in the AFC South are at .500, Tennessee, Houston and Jacksonville all have respectable defenses and the Colts are a tough out with Andrew Luck. All four teams in the NFC East have question marks and have been up and down thus far, and while the Patriots and Dolphins are off to 4-2 starts, the Jets and Bills both have rookie quarterbacks, which come with learning curves. Both South divisions have a bit more substance than their counterparts in the East.

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