And then there were ten... The NFL's final teams are now preparing to put their money where their mouths are, and so are Las Vegas. This week the Giants and Falcons are rated dead even this week in a battle of the no.2's. I say this because both the Falcons and Giants were regarded as the 2nd best teams in their divisions heading into the season, and plenty of people still believe the Dallas Cowboys are the best team in the NFC East.
Regardless, Eli Manning was able to pull his Giants along by their bootstraps and get them into the playoffs. Now at home in the Meadowlands we're looking at a dead heat, a 3 point edge to the G-men, tantamount to an even game with the obligatory home bump.
What do we make of this match-up? The biggest concern for the Atlanta Falcons is in dealing with the Giants' stellar pass rush. Their defensive front is as good as any in football and Jason Pierre-Paul is having a stellar season. However, if the pass rush can't get to Matt Ryan with regularity the secondary will be exposed. New York are currently 29th against the pass and 19th against the run. They've been exposed on numerous occasions and can be taken advantage of, especially by Matt Ryan and Julio Jones.
On defense it's all about stopping Eli Manning, and that should be the primary concern for the Falcons. This season Eli has seen to emulate his brother more so than the player we've seen for much of his career. In 2011 he looks poised in the pocket, relaxed with bodies around him and has been able to throw with amazing accuracy. The key is going to be breaking up the connection between Manning and Cruz, something I think the Falcons can disrupt just enough.
When it comes down to it I'm taking the Falcons outright. The over/under is at 48.5, but I'm taking the under here. I think the potential of the Giants' DL and Falcons' secondary combines into a situation where neither team could move the ball with success on Sunday.