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Giants - Falcons
Game 3 preview
Sunday Sept 26, 1:00 PM - Falcons at Giants

Giants (0-2) Atlanta (0-2)
Last Sunday, the Atlanta Falcons lost their game in Tampa Bay to the Buccaneers. They trailed the Bucs for the whole game, but it was still close at 28-25 in the fourth quarter. Atlanta gave up a touchdown and two interceptions, returned for touchdowns, to take a 48-25 loss.
After the Giants lost their season opener, they didn't have much time to prepare to hit the road for a Thursday night game with the Washington Football Team. The game stayed close, with both teams combining for 13 scores, 5 touchdowns, and 8 field goals. That number thirteen wasn't lucky for the Giants as Washington scored on a second chance after a missed field goal penalty, giving them a 30-29 win.

Atlanta Falcons
Atlanta can't seem to catch a break. The schedule makers had them playing the Tampa Bay Buccaneers three times in their last five games. Last year they finished dead last in the NFC South with only 4 wins. It doesn't help their situation that one team in their division has gone from zero to sixty, actually zero division wins from 2008, finishing last or next to last in 11 of those 12 seasons, to Super Bowl Champions in 2020. The Bucs have taken a quantum leap, and possibly will be a dominant factor for some years to come.
The Falcons will have to take their own quantum leap to get past them, the Saints, and the Panthers to win a division title any time soon. Since 1966, they have won the division title only six times. With all that, never count the Atlanta Falcons out. They somehow managed to scratch their way to the playoffs in six of the last thirteen seasons. That includes 2016, where they lost in Super Bowl LI to Tom Brady and the Patriots, 3428 in overtime.

Falcons Offense
Matt Ryan is 36 years old, and is in his 14th season with the Falcons with three years left on his contract. Does he still have it? Ryan's averaged 29 touchdowns and 11 interceptions over the last three seasons. This year, in the first game there were no touchdowns, and last week 2 touchdowns and 3 interceptions. Ryan still throws for lots of yards, and completes over 65 percent of his passes, but the average yards per catch has now dipped from 7.5 to 5.7. Calvin Ridley was the top receiver last year, and he pulled in one of Ryan's touchdowns, overall catching seven on ten targets for 63 yards.
Running back Cordarrelle Patterson caught Ryan's other touchdown, and scored another on a 10 yard run. The Falcons like to throw to their running backs, and Mike Davis caught all seven passes last week. Wide receiver Russell Gage will miss this game due to an ankle injury.
With the number four pick in the draft, they selected tight end Kyle Pitts. They like to move the athletic rookie around, and his learning process was evident in game two. In the first, he caught half of the eight passes for a 7.8 average catch. In the second he was five of six for a team-high 73 yards, and 14.6 yards a catch average.

Falcons Defense
Last year they gave up 398 yards a game, mostly against the pass, ranking them last in the league in that area. Arthur Smith is their new head coach, and Dean Pees came out of retirement to run this defense. So far the unit has given up 32 points to the Eagles, and 34 to the Bucs. On Sunday, the defense allowed Tom Brady 276 passing yards and 5 touchdowns, though they did sack him three times, and recovered a fumble on one of those sacks. Pass rusher Grady Jarrett has been in the Pro Bowl the past two years. He had 5 sacks last season, and recorded 57 pressures.
Fellow tackle Marlon Davidson, and linebackers Deion Jones and Dante Fowler Jr. each had a sack last week. This week they will be without talented cornerback A.J. Terrell, who suffered a concussion in the second half of Sunday's loss to Tampa Bay. Atlanta picked up Fabian Moreau from Washington, but he is off to a shaky start. The Falcons cut four safties from last year, picked up Richie Grant in the draft, and signed on veterans Duron Harmon and Erik Harris in free agency.

Giants Offense
The way things have gone over the past two games, Daniel Jones has been carrying the ball. That's not only a term to use as they say, because in this circumstance, Jones is the leading rusher on the team. He has 122 rushing yards with 2 touchdowns and 6 first downs, averaging 8.1 yards a carry. Those numbers, as good as they are for any quarterback in these first games, would be even better if he didn't have one touchdown called back last game in Washington because of an unnecessary blocking penalty. As for his arm, Jones has completed 64 percent of his passes for 516 yards and two touchdowns, with no interceptions.
The offensive line is struggling with early on injuries, but Jones is working well behind them. Is the line doing their best for run blocking? That is a question, or is it that Saquon Barkley is the real question. So far this season, Barkley's bright spot has been his one breakout 41 yard run, but 22 others have netted just 42 total yards. Because that breakout run was on a Thursday, the team has had more than a week to figure out how to get Barkley back on track for a better balanced offense.
There is also the possibility that Evan Engram will play. He originally wasn't placed on IR after suffering a calf injury in the final preseason game, because that would have kept him out for three games. That means the Giants expected him to be healthy for this game. Without him, the replacement tight ends have caught only 6 passes in two games. Another thing the Giants have had time to work on is Jones connection with wide receiver Kenny Golladay. Golladay's caught only half of the 14 passes he's been targeted with, and though five of those seven were first downs, the missed ones could have made a big difference in these first two games.

Giants Defense
The defense, which has been the strength of the Giants, was expected to do even better this season having better talent to show on the field. Overall, there hasn't been enough up front pressure on opposing quarterbacks in the first two games. They've been given enough time to pick the Giants secondary apart. One focus has to be on James Bradberry, who over the last two games has allowed 12 catches on 15 targets for 115 yards, and 2 touchdowns. Last year Bradberry was second in the NFL with 18 passes defended, and that helped him get to the Pro Bowl for the first time in his career.
Matt Ryan is more experienced than the two quarterbacks the Giants have faced so far. The defensive line is led by Leonard Williams who came up with 11.5 sacks last season. Rookie edge rusher Azeez Ojulari is making his mark. He leads the team in sacks with 2, and ranks second in total pressures with 6. Aside from delivering a pass rush, they will have to deal with two rough running backs. Tampa Bay has a tough rush defense and kept them at bay last week, but in the first game against the Eagles,
Patterson and Davis came up with over 103 yards rushing in 22 carries.

Overall
There are only five other teams in the same situation as the Giants and Falcons, looking for their first win of the season. All these teams are underdogs in their upcoming games with the exception of the Giants. The fans at MetLife stadium will be looking for the Giants to be playing exceptionally well, as Eli Manning will be honored at halftime when his jersey will be retired, and he is inducted into the Giants Ring of Honor.
Consider this, Atlanta is on a 7 game losing streak dating back to last year, and has lost each of their first two games of this season by more than 20 points. Surely this is not the one time the Giants can let down. This is the perfect time for the Giants to put it all together for themselves and for the fans.

NFC East Games
Sunday at 1:00pm Washington (1-1) at Bills (1-1).
Sunday at 1:00pm Falcons (0-2) at Giants (0-2).
Monday at 8:15pm Eagles (1-1) at Cowboys (1-1).
The Giants and Cowboys are the NFC East teams favored to win in these games.
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Notes.

Giants have started at 0-2 for the fifth straight season.

At halftime, Eli Manning will be inducted into the Giants' Ring of Honor, and have his No. 10 jersey retired.
Next Games
OCT 3 Giants at New Orleans

OCT 10 Giants at Cowboys

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