Written by: Tony “The Prophet” Yantosca
The Giants had some momentum coming out of the prior game vs. Carolina. They should have won the game against a team that looks to be playoff bound. They lost on the last play of the game by a miracle 63 yard field goal. So you would think that 4 days later as the home team on a short week that they would come out stronger. Nothing could be farther from the truth.
With Engram and Ellison out Eli forced a pass to TE Simonson on the second play of the game. He was double covered and the ball was tipped and picked by LB Grugier. The Giants never recovered and were done before most of America sat down to watch. It was 14-3 Eagles after the 1st quarter and 24-6 at the half. The big passing weapon, OBJ, was very quiet with only 44 yards receiving on 6 receptions.
The only bright point was Saquon Barkley. He came within 1 yard from being the first Giant to rush for 100 yards (130 yards on 10 attempts and a touchdown) and 99 yards receiving on 9 catches. The debate rages on as the Giants are 1-5 and done for the 2018 season. Should the Giants have drafted Sam Darnold instead of Barkley? Barkley is a supreme talent and as you can see even with his torrid pace it does not guarantee wins in this ultimate team game of the NFL. Well they may still get their chance to draft a QB very high in 2019.
The perennial issue that we have to talk about when you mention the Giants is the offensive line. The right side that has changed since the season started is abysmal. It is a turnstile, and there is no fix in sight. Omamah got benched for getting beat like a drum, and Flowers got cut. Halapio broke his leg in week 1 after Gettleman stupidly traded away one of the consistent performers in Brett Jones.
Turning to Monday night, The Giants offense will go through Barkley. The Falcons are getting torched giving up catches to running backs. So here comes Saquon with 40 catches so far this season. He is on pace to break the all-time catch record for running backs at 88 by Reggie Bush. Hopefully he can also get running yards so the Giants can have a balance. They need to get the wide outs involved in the game plan, notably OBJ. Sheppard has a nice match up against Brian Poole who has allowed 25 catches to slot receivers. If Shurmur is as good as his press clipping from Minnesota, he should line up OBJ in the slot to take advantage of this tasty matchup.
A big plus is the return of Engram. He is another big and fast target for Eli. He can also help and chip in the blocking for the offensive line that will be tested. The Atlanta defense that has been decimated by injuries played better last week. They had 2 sacks, 4 quarterback hits, 2 interceptions and 5 passes defended. Eli can be running for his life in a noisy stadium. This game is on Eli’s back too. The Falcons have allowed at least 3 passing touchdowns for 5 straight weeks. So Eli has a chance for one of his better games. This game should be a fantasy bonanza.
When Atlanta has the ball, they are aided by that fact that both Sanu and Ridley are probable. That gives the Giants, Jones, Sanu, Ridley, and Hooper to defend. It would have been much easier with just 2 starters in there. Since Freeman has been out (and now on IR) the Falcons have struggled to put a consistent run game together so it has been bombs away for Ryan. Coleman has been disappointing but Ito Smith has been a spark in the backfield. In past years the TE’s like Hooper would terrorize the Giants but Collins has done a nice job on TE’s. Ertz had a big game last week but nobody really stops the big 3 TE’s (Gronk, Ertz, and Kelce) in the NFL week in and out.
So this game is a shootout. Teams like the Giants that get blown out one week usually play much better the next week. Can the Giants win? They sure can. Barkley gets his 150+ yards, OBJ goes for over 100, Sheppard eats up the slot and the presence of Engram lurking over the middle can get it done. Atlanta is a much better team at home. They will have all their weapons but the Giants only give up 236 yards/game passing. But you have to factor in the home crowd for Atlanta and the fact of the turnover margin. The Falcons are +4 while the Giants are -4, an 8 T/O margin difference. You have to figure the Giants or Eli will give up more turnovers. So I am calling this game closer than I have heard some other pundits call it. The way the Giants season is going I am going to call this another close Giant loss, Atlanta 34, Giants 31. I hope I am wrong again!