Atlanta Falcons (2-2 SU, 2-2 ATS) vs. New York Giants (2-2 SU, 2-2 ATS)
NFL Week 5
Date and Time: Sunday, October 5, 2014 at 1:00PM EST
Where: MetLife Stadium, East Rutherford, New Jersey
by Scott, NFL Football Handicapper, Predictem.com
Point Spread: ATL +4/NYG -4
Over/Under Total: 50
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On Sunday, the Atlanta Falcons come into East Rutherford to face the New York Giants. Both teams are 2-2. The Giants have won consecutive games after an 0-2 start. They are coming off a Thursday night 45-14 road win over the Redskins. Atlanta lost 41-28 at Minnesota to fall to 2-2 on Sunday. Atlanta has looked great at home, but has struggled on the road, They will try to change that on Sunday, but will have to beat a Giants team that has found some good momentum to grab hold of heading into the rest of the season.
Things looked dire as New York limped out to an 0-2 start. A three-touchdown MNF loss to Detroit was dismal, as was a double-digit home loss to the Cardinals. The Giants offense looked lost at sea. The run-game was in the dumps and they were turning the ball over. And the defense wasnt much better, giving up big plays in the air and on the ground. Fast forward a few weeks and the Giants offense is clicking. There are signs of life in the run-game with Rashad Jennings. Manning is gelling with his playmakers, like Victor Cruz, Rueben Randle, and TE Larry Donnell, who had 3 touchdown catches against the Redskins last Thursday. And theyve shown they can get it done at home and on the road.
It looks like new Giants offensive coordinator Ben McAdoo has tapped into something after the New York offense looked so shaky the first few weeks. With 75 points in their last two games, the offense is clicking. The aerial attack is tidier and theyve been able to find different set-ups in the ground game to better effect recently.
Its only 4 games in, but its not clear Atlanta has the same home/away consistency the New york has shown early. At home, they beat the Saints and Bucs, but were soundly beaten when on the road at Cincinnati and Minnesota. Then again, the teams they beat at home are a combined 2-6 this season, while the road teams they faced are 5-2. They will again be out of their element when in East Rutherford on Sunday.
The Atlanta offense has the ability to be special when they click. Matt Ryan seems a bit rejuvenated this season, though his 5 picks is a bit high for 4 games. Julio Jones being back is a big help and he already has 447 yards receiving. Roddy White is still productive, with Harry Douglas seeing a diminished role with the return of Jones, but still a great weapon, though he has been hurt and is questionable for Sunday. And Devin Hester has come up big, with the Falcons using him in the offense, as well as on returns. The aerial attack is potent with a variety of differently-skilled playmaking tools. To make it really take hold, a more substantial ground-game would be great. They are averaging nearly 5 yards a rush as a team, with Steven Jackson doing the heavy lifting and Antone Smith even stepping up with great production. But its coming in small doses.
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One potential stumbling block are the losses Atlanta has taken on the offensive line. Center Joe Hawley and tackle Lamar Holmes were both placed on IR, as the Falcons keep seeing their revamped line losing key pieces. Peter Konz will move to center and Gabe Carimi will fill in at tackle, but starters are starters for a reason and though the line still has good-looking rookie LT Jake Matthews, these are some bad personnel losses for a team looking to turn things around. At Minnesota, Atlanta had to resort to using a back-up tight end at tackle, so they also signed vets Cameron Bradfield and Uche Nwaneri early in the week. They also lost starting strong safety William Moore. All these problems are an ominous sign for Atlanta.
Even with the Atlanta O-line in an iffy state, the offense should still be able to get business done. And so should the Giants offense, especially if they can get their running game untracked. Jennings isnt yet the bankable force you can depend on, but early signs are certainly positive. In any event, look for both teams to have offensive success. Atlanta will put Jones, White, Douglas, and Hester to good use. New York, meanwhile, will attack with more balance, but with a passing game that is also coming around with Manning flashing far greater accuracy and now clicking with matchup nightmare Donnell.
Even if Atlanta is better than they were last week at Minnesota, its doubtful their run D is going to do an about-face in a weeks time. They couldnt stop a Peterson-less Vikings ground game and Jennings should get his. And with their O-line falling apart, this might be a bad time to ride Atlanta. The well-rested Giants newfound success and subsequent momentum will carry over and I look for New York to hang on for a win and a cover.
Scott’s Pick to Cover the Point Spread: Im taking the New York Giants minus 4 points.