Tale Of The Tape: Atlanta Falcons At New York Giants
- QuarterbackThe Falcons have shown that they are a much better and far more competitive team than they were a year ago. They have played sensational football at home but they have struggled on the road in losing to the Bengals and the Vikings. Since this game is on the road, quarterback Matt Ryan and his teammates have much to prove if the Falcons are going to become legitimate contenders this year.The Giants looked awful in the first two weeks of the season, and they have suddenly, shockingly, played two solid games in a row to reach the .500 mark. Just when it started to look like quarterback Eli Manning was not going to be able to recapture his old magic, he threw for 300 yards and four TDS in New York’s 45-14 win at Washington. He has to prove he can continue to play winning football.
- OffenseThe Falcons have a slew of productive and explosive players who are capable of lighting up the scoreboard in any given week. Julio Jones is one of the top five receivers in the league, while Roddy White has recovered from his hamstring problems and is a solid complement. Former Bear Devin Hester is fitting in well, but injuries have taken their toll on the Falcons offensive line.The Giants have gotten a huge and unexpected lift from running back Rashad Jennings. While they were hoping that he could be a productive back, he has been a dominant player who has helped open things up for Manning again. Wide receiver Victor Cruz is the Giants’ best big-play threat, but tight end Larry Donnell has become a solid red zone threat after scoring three TDs at Washington.
- DefenseThe Falcons have problems on the defensive side of the ball, as they have been pushed around by New Orleans, Cincinnati and Minnesota. The Falcons have plenty of speed and quickness on defense, but they lack size and strength, and get pushed around at the point of attack. Middle linebacker Paul Worrilow is a solid tackler, but the Falcons are searching for a consistent pass rush.The Giants have held their own on the defensive end through their first four games, particularly against the run. Mathias Kiwanuka and Jason Pierre-Paul have the ability to give the Giants a dangerous pass rush, and both were solid against the Redskins. Strong safety Antrel Rolle is a game-changing player who can deliver a big hit or come up with an interception.
- Special TeamsThe Falcons have the most dangerous special teams player in the league in Hester. He has already returned a punt for a touchdown, and is certainly capable of doing that to the Giants as well. Matt Bryant has a strong leg and is capable of making key field goals in clutch situations.The Giants have been vulnerable to fast returners in recent years, and Hester certainly is a major threat. The Giants are going to have to be at their best to contain him. Punter Steve Weatherford has a strong leg, but he is guilty of outkicking his coverage from time to time.
The Giants have won two games in a row and have plenty of momentum, but is their recent play real or a mirage. The Falcons have to prove they can win on the road. -Steve Silverman, CBS Local Sports