Otto Greule Jr
Coming off an embarrassing loss to the Carolina Panthers, Atlanta look to get back on track against a team making a playoff push of their own.
Sunday affords a chance for a small modicum of revenge as the Atlanta Falcons play host to the New York Giants. In 2011 it was the Giants who played spoiler to Atlanta's playoff run, and now Matt Ryan and co. have a chance to deal New York a major blow to their playoff chances, while the Giants try to fend off the Redskins and Cowboys. These are the three things Atlanta needs do in order to ensure they're victorious on Sunday.
1. Throw quickly
New York have an extremely aggressive defense, and a variety of players who can get to the quarterback. However, they allow a lot of yards through the air, and the best way to counteract Jason Pierre-Paul is to throw quickly. Couple this with the Giants' giving up a total of 1,270 yards in YAC this year, and the method for passing success is fairly simple -- throw quick slants to Julio Jones and Roddy White.
The protection will have their hands full, but Matt Ryan has the ability to carve up the defense before pass rushers can get to him.
2. Establish the run
Largely predicated on the notion that Jacquizz Rodgers will get more chances, the Falcons have to make New York respect their run game. This is something Dirk Koetter's offense hasn't done well this year, but the risk in not making the Giants fear the ground game is allowing their safeties to sit comfortably in coverage.
Stevie Brown is quietly having an amazing season. The Giants' safety has 51 tackles and seven interceptions on the season. What Brown likes to do is sit on routes, and jump as soon as pressure gets to the quarterback. He's been able to force a lot of ill-advised passes, and this can be counteracted with a solid run game.
This sounds a lot easier than it is. The New York Giants and Atlanta Falcons mirror each other on defense -- both teams give up a lot of yards, but make up for it by ranking in the top-ten in points scored against. When the field is compact, the pass rush becomes more effective as quarterbacks let routes develop more.
It's here where the YAC, and big play become important. Julio Jones is the best player to do this, and having a favorable match on the GIants' corners could turn the tide.