It’s another must-win scenario for the Atlanta Falcons as they take on the New York Giants on Monday night. Here are three in-game matchups to closely keep eyes on.
With a win over a division foe like the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in Week 6, things may be looking a little brighter for the Atlanta Falcons.
Notice I said “a little.”
Sitting at 2-4 is not ideal for the amount of talent on the roster. The Falcons offense continues to churn while the defense continues to paddle with their heads barely above water. However, on Monday night, the Falcons have an opportunity to take on an inconsistent but talented New York Giants team and go on their first win streak of the season. In order for that to happen, here are three key matchups that the Falcons must focus on to possibly become the victor.
Falcons red zone offense vs. Giants red zone defense
The red zone touchdown scoring for the Falcons this season has been an underlying strength in the past few weeks. The team is fourth in the league currently in red zone touchdown scoring with a conversion rate of 69.5%. In four of their last five games, the Falcons have posted at least three red zone touchdowns per game. We have seen a notable spike in production over the course of the last few games in this department, and this trend must continue against a Giants defense that is seventh in the league in opponent red zone touchdown scoring at just 44%.
Falcons rushing offense vs. Giants rushing defense
As already published earlier in the week, the Falcons will be without Devonta Freeman for quite some time, which means the Falcons run game with lean with veteran Tevin Coleman and Ito Smith for the rest of the way. Even with how great the offense has looked as a whole this season, the running game has been stagnant outside of an 170-yard outing against Carolina in Week 2. The Giants possess the 25th-ranked run defense in the NFL, one that allows 121.7 rushing yards per game. The aerial attack has been excellent for the Falcons this season, obviously, but the run game could give a really good offense an even bigger boost. Run lanes may be easy to identify here based on the Giants likely keying into trying to slow down the passing element of the Falcons.
Falcons secondary vs. Giants QB Eli Manning
For a team with a lot of talent at the skill positions, quarterback Eli Manning has been off his game for much of the season. Getting the ball to playmaking receiver Odell Beckham Jr. has been an issue for Manning, and talks of the team going after a quarterback in the first round in next year’s draft seems to increase in volume by the week.
The Falcons allow 295.8 passing yards per game and have allowed over 300 passing yards in four of the last five contests. The secondary has seen a boost in safety Damontae Kazee lately as he has an interception in three straight games. The rest of the unit, however, has been a little underwhelming. Covering Beckham is one obstacle, but the presence of slot receiver Sterling Shepard and tight end Evan Engram pose even larger obstacles. Tight coverage across the board will fluster Manning a little, and in this contest, Manning not being able to connect consistently to his wideouts can absolutely bog down the group.