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Giants vs. Falcons Key Matchups


**LB Mathias Kiwanuka vs. RB Michael Turner

**It will take every member of the Big Blue defense to challenge the No. 3 rusher in the league, but Mathias Kiwanuka is coming into his own at the linebacker position. Despite giving up 121.3 rushing yards per game, Kiwanuka and the entire defense have controlled the run game the past two weeks. Felix Jones was held to just 30 yards (the Cowboys had 49 as a team) in the season finale while Kiwanuka had five tackles and two that were behind the line for losses (both against Jones). It's been said all week that the key to the defense is the pass rush, and the key to the pass rush is stopping the run. Look out for Kiwanuka.

Key stats: Kiwanuka leads the team with 12 tackles for loss, while Turner averages 4.5 yards per carry (1,340 yards and 11 TD on the season).

Key quote: "No toughness, no championship," Tom Coughlin said earlier in the week. "There's no question about that one. Why is it important? Because you do have to establish that. You do have to be in position to be able to challenge and be great this week. You always start with stopping the run. You certainly have to start with stopping the run against this team. Michael Turner and that running game of theirs has to be a great challenge, but nevertheless that's what has to happen."

**Giants Pass Rush vs. Falcons O-Line

**For two teams unfamiliar with each other, the Falcons' offensive line will have to keep up with the variety of looks and combinations the Giants' defensive front presents. Atlanta has been steady at the line, using just four different combinations this season, and will be anchored by center Todd McClure. The matchup within the matchup will be Jason Pierre-Paul (recently named first team All-Pro) when he lines up on the right side against left tackle Will Svitek. Both are known for their motors, and Svitek will need to keep it going against the second wave of Osi Umenyiora.

NYG Personnel: Justin Tuck, Linval Joseph, Chris Canty, Pierre-Paul, Umenyiora, Rocky Bernard, Mathias Kiwanuka.

ATL Personnel: RT Tyson Clabo, G Joe Hawley, C Todd McClure, G Justin Blalock, LT Will Svitek.

Key stats: The Giants ended the season with 11 sacks in two games, finishing tied for third in the NFL with 48 on the season. Meanwhile, Atlanta is sixth in the NFL, allowing just 26 sacks this year.

Key quote: "I think the biggest thing for us is learning what they want to do against us and watching teams that have similar d-lines or run similar systems as we do and see what they try to do to slow them down and having ways to combat that," Justin Tuck said. "So yeah, I think we can definitely make a lot of noise in this run. We're only going to go as far as where our quarterback and our d-line takes us."

**WRs Hakeem Nicks and Victor Cruz vs. ATL's corners

**Ranked 20th in the league, the Falcons' secondary can be picked apart, especially with an injury to their one of their cornerbacks. Brent Grimes, inactive for four of the last five games, missed practice on Wednesday and Thursday with a knee injury, but is listed as questionable for Sunday.  Dominique Franks and Chris Owens have filled in while Dunta Robinson mans the other side.

Key stats: Opposing quarterbacks have completed over 60 percent of their passes against a Falcons defense allowing 237 passing yards per game.

Key quote: "I believe in our receiving corps and high flying offense right now," Nicks said. "With Eli in charge, we can get the job done. Eli has been doing a great job of leading us so far this season so our confidence is in him and we know we can get the job done."

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