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Talking Giants With Big Blue View

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Those of you who tuned in for my chats with Saintsational from Canal Street Chronicles will have a basic idea of how this goes. A couple nights ago I sat down to talk with Ed Valentine, the head blogger over at Big Blue View, our network's Giants blog, in an effort to find our more about our erstwhile opponents.

Strictly football for this dialogue, which features two grown men transformed into statues of negativity. Will we each pick against our own team because of the recent woes of the Falcons and Giants? You'll just have to read through to find it, so join me after the jump.

Dave the Falconer: I guess the most obvious question is what exactly happened over the last four weeks to the Giants? Can you pin it on any one thing?

Ed Valentine:  How did I know that would be the first question? What happened to them? They are missing in action? If they turn up somewhere down South, please let me know. Actually, it has probably been a combination of factors. Through five games they only played one good team (Dallas). The last four weeks have all been against very good teams, and they have exposed the flaws in the Giants defense.
Also, it is entirely possible that this team is not as good as we thought it was going to be. The defense has not been dominant, although Sunday will be the healthiest they have been all season.

DTF: That makes sense. With the Falcons also struggling, how concerned are you about our ability to hang some points on that defense?

EV:  I'd be concerned about Notre Dame being able to hang some points on that defense, to tell you the truth. This team was supposed to be built around a dominant defense and it just hasn't worked out that way.

EV:  Injuries (Kenny Phillips, Chris Canty, Aaron Ross, Michael Boley, Justin Tuck) have really hurt this team. They get Ross back for the first time all season on Sunday and will be as close to full strength as they have been all season. Maybe, just maybe, we start to see the defense the Giants thought they had.

EV: So, summarize the Falcons season for me. They have an identical record to the Giants at 5-4. Are they as inconsistent as that record indicates?

DTF: Inconsistency might be a light word for what's going here.

DTF: Some weeks, they have had excellent passing performances, other weeks the ground game has been superb, and other games every single phase of the offense and defense is terrible. The game against the Panthers last week was one of the worst I've seen in a long time, and we also lost Michael Turner. I'd say he's got less than a 25% chance of playing against you guys.

EV:  The Giants are always proud of their running back depth. Explain to me how big of a loss Turner would be to the Falcons?

DTF: The way he's been playing in recent weeks, it's a tremendous blow. Jason Snelling is a capable replacement in the short-term, but there's no depth behind him unless speedy back Jerious Norwood comes back from injury, and he's not 100% yet. Our only other option would appear to be Aaron Stecker, who really isn't much more than a special teamer at this point.

EV: I look at this Sunday as a HUGE game. To me, it determines whether or not the Giants are true playoff contenders, or if they are just pretenders playing out the string until next season. Do you feel the same way from an Atlanta perspective?
DTF:  If we lose this game, I'm calling it: We're basically out of the playoff hunt. It's absolutely critical that we try to put you away, considering that you're one of the top threats in the wild card hunt. I agree it's critical.

DTF: Will the Giants look to attack the Falcons through the air with their new-found plethora of receiving options, or will they stick to the run?

EV:  Well, every time I try to figure out what game plan offensive coordinator Kevin Gilbride will employ, or that I think he should employ, I end up giving myself a headache. I support the guy, but around here folks love to rip him. Anyway, that's a long-winded way of saying I have no idea what Gilbride will actually decide to do.

DTF:  I think your best bet is to pass, honestly.

EV:  Here, though, is what I hope he does. I hope he gives you guys a steady dose, as in 25 carries or so, of Brandon Jacobs. The big fella has hardly been utilized at all during the losing streak (51 carries in 4 games) and it's time for them to start riding him.

EV:  As for the pass, I just hope they stay with the short and intermediate stuff. One problem they had for a few games is falling in love with trying for the deep ball. Great when it works, but it leaves you wanting to throw the remote through the TV when it fails on 3rd and 2.

EV: The Giants always strive for balance. I just think failing to use Jacobs enough is leaving your best weapon on the shelf.

DTF:  I'd tend to agree.

DTF: But I think the Falcons have had a fundamental problem generating a pass rush in recent weeks, which leaves a medicore secondary out to dry.

EV: Actually, that sounds a lot like the Giants. With Kenny Phillips out for the year, and Ross not having played yet, the secondary has been exposed.

EV: Tell me a little about Matt Ryan. Seems like he has been more inconsistent this season than he was as a rookie?

DTF:  Remarkable the extent to which our teams' struggles have mirrored each other, really. Says something about the weight of expectations.

EV:  Tell me a little about Matt Ryan. Seems like he has been more inconsistent this season than he was as a rookie?

DTF: He actually had a great start to the year. And it's gone downhill rapidly in recent weeks.

DTF:  I think he's looked shakier in the pocket, and at least part of that can be attributed to better pass rushes he's been facing. But something he's been doing with maddening regularity is sailing passes over receivers' heads, often with disastrous consequences. Ryan's still got a very bright future, but the coaching staff has to help him sort out his mental struggles.

EV:  OK. Here is a question I always ask. If you could take one player off the Giants roster and put him in your lineup, who would it be? Why?

DTF: Without a doubt, Osi Umenyiora. Dude's a beast and we need the pass rushing help he could provide desperately. There are a lot of worthy candidates on the Giants, but he's the first name that comes to mind.

DTF: How about you? Same questions, but with the Falcons?

EV:  So, here comes the part of that question I hate. I'm not an expert on your roster, but I would say this. We could use help at linebacker, and if you have a playmaker you would like to give us we would take him.

DTF:  That would be Curtis Lofton. Extremely tough middle linebacker, league leader in tackles and a guy who you can count on to be involved in every play. Hits hard enough to jar the football loose, too.

DTF: Rapid fire questions, here.

DTF: Predictions for the game? What do you expect from Elisha Manning? Can Jacobs rack up over 100 yards? Do you have a score prediction?

EV: Giants, 27-24; I expect a huge game from Eli; Jacobs and 100 yards depends on whether he gets enough carries.

EV: Here are a couple for you. Can the Falcons run without Turner? A prediction?

DTF:  I expect Jason Snelling to pick up at least 75 yards without Turner, and I'm predicting a 21-17 Falcons win, crazily enough.

A big thanks to Ed Valentine for taking the time to do this. Here's to a good game on Sunday.