Falcons Welcome The G-Men to the ATL for Monday Night Football

Written by Ernie Casanova

Atlanta, GA – As the 2018 NFL season is on the cusp of its halfway mark, both the Atlanta Falcons and New York Giants have largely underperformed with each team showcasing a frustrating display of football. Atlanta has been dealing with a slew of injuries since the beginning of the season with three defensive starters on IR, and the recent addition of RB Devonta Freeman to that list doesn’t show any good signs for the Falcons. Calvin Ridley, who injured his ankle a week prior has not practiced and Mohamed Sanu has been limited or hasn’t been in practice the entire week. QB Matt Ryan will also be looking to get Julio Jones his first TD catch of the season and the Falcons are seeking to get their third win with hopes of staying afloat in the playoff race. Atlanta (2-4) will face the Giants (1-5) at Mercedes-Benz Stadium on Monday Night Football at 8:30 PM ET on ESPN

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    New York has been dealing with some internal issues all season, most specifically with their questioned belief in QB Eli Manning’s ability to stay at the helm. With the visible struggles in getting the ball downfield, Manning is still top 20 in the league for passing yards ahead of names such as Drew Brees, Carson Wentz, and Russell Wilson. Manning is also top 20 in the league in completion percentage, although it’s obvious that continuous check-downs to Saquon Barkley may prove passes being caught but no movement up the field. Manning has only thrown six touchdowns with four interceptions and superstar wideout Odell Beckham Jr. has publicly voiced his frustration with the offense’s play so far in the season. As the Giants sit at 1-5, this is the perfect time to try and turn things around.


Some say they are all but mathematically eliminated from the playoffs unless the NFC East division crumbles at the top for a chance to sneak up and grab the crown late in the season. Still, they have to get past a Falcons team on the road looking to redeem themselves as this can make or break each squad’s season. That could be a possibility with TE Evan Engram back on the field on Monday night. In the Giants’ first two games, he hauled in ten receptions for 104 yards and a touchdown on 13 targets. He was ready to take a huge leap forward until he suffered an MCL injury during week 3.


“Evan has been a big part of our offense so far and that being said, we still feel like we’re just scratching the surface,” Giants offensive coordinator Mike Shula said on Friday. “I think having him back will be very helpful. We all know that he’s an explosive player, he can run, he can stretch the defense, he’s good with the ball in his hands, so everybody’s excited to have him back.”


The Falcons have struggled mightily with luck staying healthy this season, and it has truly overshadowed a spectacular start from Ryan. Ryan is top 10 in almost every statistical QB category and has a 14-2 TD-INT ratio while playing with a heavily depleted team. “He’s playing at a high level,”  Falcons coach Quinn states on Ryan. “It may not show up maybe at a 23-, a 27-gain, but however, the right decisions to go with the ball at the right time. That part of his game is really intact.” He will be facing a Giants defense that has allowed 25 plays of over 20 yards, while Ryan has completed 23 passes of 20 yards or more. Tevin Coleman is the featured running back for this game along with more to come and has proven on many instances that he can carry the load, but only rookie Ito Smith sits behind him as they face the 9th ranked rushing defense in the Giants.


Coleman will have to provide some help in the backfield as a pass catcher in order to alleviate some of the pressure off of the banged-up receivers. The Falcons have the 10th ranked rushing defense, and they are in line to shine as they face the Giants’ 28th ranked rushing offense. The irony is that due to Barkley’s explosiveness, New York leads the league in rushing plays of 40+ yards and 20+ yards with three and seven, respectively.


With the Giants having a below average 21st ranked passing defense, this might be the game where Julio Jones shines and gets that elusive touchdown reception that has been avoiding him all season. He’s second in the league with 708 receiving yards and sits tied for seventh with catches of 40+ yards.


(Image Credit: Jake Wooley / The SkyBoat)

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