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Falcons vs Giants: Will the offense score big on Monday night?

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This may be closer than we’d like.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers v Atlanta Falcons Photo by Scott Cunningham/Getty Images

The 1-5 New York Giants are a team many fans might overlook. While the Falcons appear to have a favorable match up here, this is not a slam dunk for the offense. Atlanta can’t afford to look ahead to their bye week, as this defense could cause them some issues.

Note: Assessments are based off PFF scores

In the trenches

The Falcons offensive line has been hit or miss this year. Against better competition, they’ve struggled to keep a clean pocket and their run blocking has been lackluster for most of the year. While players like Alex Mack and Jake Matthews are playing well overall, it’s guys like Ryan Schraeder and Brandon Fusco who are playing just well enough to be considered average - not exactly a sterling assessment. Wes Schweitzer has looked better at left guard than he did at right, particularly in pass blocking. This offensive line was ranked high coming into the season, but has not quite lived up to that esteem this year. They’re good, but not the top-5 unit people thought they would be.

The Giants have some players in the trenches. Damon Harrison is an absolute beast in the middle at nose tackle and could cause some problems. Second year end Dalvin Tomlinson and rookie B.J. Hill are both solid run defenders, but offer little as pass rushers. The outside linebackers in this 3-4 defense are a mixed bag. If Olivier Vernon plays - he has an undisclosed rib injury - he’s certainly capable of disrupting the pocket, though he’d likely match up with Jake Matthews, who has been stellar in pass protection this year. Connor Baldwin’s best days are behind him and Kareem Martin doesn’t offer much more. Kerry Wynn has played very well this year, but has only 12 sack to show for it.

As always, if the Falcons offensive line can’t hold up against this defensive front, it could be a long game for Ryan and company. Harrison could be an issue on Monday night, but the availability of Vernon looms large. If he doesn’t play, give Atlanta the advantage here. Otherwise, it’s probably too close to call.

Advantage: Push

The skill positions

The Falcons normally loaded skill positions could be limited on Monday. Matt Ryan is playing at a near elite level, looking somewhat like his 2016 MVP version. Julio Jones is still a terror on the field, even if he has no touchdowns to show for it ... yet. The big question will be the availability of guys like Calvin Ridley and Mohamed Sanu. If both are out, this offense takes a big hit. Hopefully, at least one of the two will take the field on Monday. Both are excellent receivers who offer a great compliment to Julio. Austin Hooper has been very good this year, though his pass and run blocking aren’t much to write home about. With Devonta Freeman now on IR, the team will lean heavily on Tevin Coleman and rookie Ito Smith. Coleman is not having a great year, but Smith has really looked like a great option as of late. Both backs are good receivers, which could be a big factor on Monday.

The Giants are a mixed bag in the secondary. Landon Collins is easily one of the best young safeties in the league, while Curtis Riley leaves a lot to be desired. At corner, Janoris Jenkins has shown high potential in the past, but is having a down year so far. Eli Apple has the draft pedigree, but hasn’t quite lived up to the billing. In nickel sets, B. W. Webb won’t be shutting down anyone anytime soon. The linebackers in the middle are a weak spot for this defense as well, with Alec Ogletree playing below average and B.J. Goodson not fairing much better. Nate Stupar doesn’t offer much more than either of these guys as well, as Falcons fans are probably aware.

While the Giants have some guys that have high potential, there’s really only one player that is playing that way right now. The status of Ridley and Sanu could have an impact, but if either guy plays, this is a match up that easily favors the birds.

Advantage: Falcons

Overall

The Giants defense has held opposing QBs to an 89.6 passer rating, but they only register a sack on 3.3% of passing downs, which is the second worst rate in the league. They also allow 121.7 rushing yards per game with a healthy 4.4 yards per carry. This is a defense that has some intriguing pieces that could cause issues, but hasn’t lived up to it consistently. So long as the Falcons continue to play like they have on offense, they should be able to score nearly at will.

Advantage: Falcons