2012 Wild Card Preview: Atlanta vs New York

This is the third of four posts this week examining the Wild Card matchups in the NFL Playoffs. Check back tomorrow for the final preview:

Sunday’s Wild Card games get going when the Atlanta Falcons head up to New York to take on the Giants at 1 pm ET on FOX. The Giants ended the year with a huge win-or-go-home victory over the Dallas Cowboys to the NFC East and earn a playoff spot while the Falcons have won five of their past seven, with their only losses coming at New Orleans and at Houston. However, they haven’t beaten anyone that good in that stretch either. The teams did not face each other during the regular season so both will be preparing using lots of video team instead of analyzing a previous meeting. Here’s a look at the matchup:

Offense: Eli Manning has had a much better season than experts have given him credit for. He threw for just under 5000 yards with 29 touchdowns and 16 interceptions. The interceptions number is a bit high, but he’s had one of his best years this season and has come through in pressure situations. The emergence of star wide receiver Victor Cruz has helped Manning tremendously as well. Neither Ahmad Bradshaw or Brandon Jacobs were particularly adept at running the ball this year (the Giants as a team were dead last in the NFL in yards per carry) so the onus will on Eli Sunday to lead his team to victory.

For Atlanta, quarterback Matt Ryan and running back Michael Turner offer the Falcons a two-headed offense that can beat both through the air and on the ground. Ryan through for over 4000 yards and 29 touchdowns and threw just 12 picks while Turner rushed for 1340 yards and 11 touchdowns himself. The Falcons will show the Giants a couple of different looks and have the luxury of attacking New York’s secondary or trying to wear down its defensive through a hard-nosed running game. Continue reading “2012 Wild Card Preview: Atlanta vs New York”