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Atlanta Falcons vs. New York Giants Preview and Pick

Atlanta Falcons (6-7, 8-5 ATS) vs. New York Jets (7-6, 7-6 ATS), Week 15 NFL, The Meadowlands, New Jersey, Sunday, Dec. 20, 1 PM Eastern, Fox
By Z-Man of

Point Spread: No line
Over/under: Not available at time of print

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A couple of teams still clinging to playoff hopes hook up for what might be a loser-is-out interconference game as the Atlanta Falcons pay a visit on the New York Jets Sunday afternoon in New Jersey.

As of Wednesday afternoon few online sportsbooks had lined this game, mainly because of the uncertainty surrounding both starting quarterback situations.

After their surprising run to the playoffs last season, the Falcons started 4-1 this season. But Atlanta has come upon some hard times, and after falling last Sunday at home to undefeated New Orleans 26-23, has lost six of its last eight games.

So with the Saints already having clinched the NFC South, the Falcons' only hope, at 6-7, is to track down one of the NFC wild-card berths. And with just three games to go, Atlanta trails 8-5 Dallas by two games – and a tiebreaker – for that last NFC playoff slot.

New York is proving to be one of the streakier teams in the league this season. They began the Coach Ryan/QB Sanchez era with three straight wins, then lost three in a row, then, after a win at Oakland, lost three more in a row. But after winning in Tampa Sunday 26-3 the Jets have won three straight to pull themselves back into the AFC playoff situation.

So the Jets, at 7-6, are tied with Miami one game behind the first-place New England Patriots in the AFC East, and tied, essentially, with the Dolphins, Baltimore Ravens and Jacksonville Jaguars for the last AFC wild-card spot. Although if the playoffs started today, New York would be out, thanks to its 5-5 conference record.

Atlanta starting QB Matt Ryan has missed the last couple of games after suffering a foot injury. In his place, five-year pro Chris Redman has completed 58% of his throws, with four touchdowns and three interceptions, and a 78.4 passing rating.

Ryan is listed as questionable for Sunday's game hence why it's off the board at time of print.

New York rookie starter Matt Sanchez banged up his knee a couple of weeks ago, and missed last week's win over Tampa Bay. In his place, four-year vet Kellen Clemens went 12–for-23 passing vs. the Bucs, for just 111 yards.

But Sanchez, who's completed just 53% of his passes this year with an 11/17 TD/INT ratio, returned to practice this week, and is listed as probable for Sunday's game.

The Falcons are getting outgained this season, on average, by a 376-340 YPG margin, and outrushed 118-112.

Meanwhile, New York is outgaining opponents this season 324-265, and outrushing foes 169-104.

In fact, the Jets lead the league in rushing and in total defense.

Also, New York ranks 10th in the league in average time-of-possession at 30:59, while the Falcons rank 20th at 29:00.

These two teams have played five common opponents this season; the Falcons beat Miami and Tampa, lost to New England and twice to New Orleans, and split their season series with Carolina. The Jets beat the Panthers and Bucs, lost to the Saints and twice to the Dolphins, and split their two games with the Patriots. So Atlanta went 3-4 straight up vs. those five common foes, and 4-3 against the pointspreads, while New York went 3-4 both SU and ATS.

Also on the injury front, Atlanta RB Michael Turner is listed as questionable for Sunday's game with a sore ankle.

The totals are 7-6 in Falcons games this season, which have averaged 47 points, and 5-7-1 in Jets games, which have averaged 37 points.

These two teams last met in a game that mattered four seasons ago, when the Michael Vick-quarterbacked Falcons beat the Jets of Testaverde and Bollinger 27-14.

The Sagarin PURE POINTS ratings at rate the Jets at 25.5, the Falcons at 21.1. Toss in Sagarin's updated NFL home-field advantage figure of 2.7, and New York is a seven-point favorite over Atlanta on the Sagarin line.

Z-Man's Pick: Turnes and Ryan are still questionable. I can't give out an opinion until their status certain. I will TRY to get back here and update if a line comes out.

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