If the New York Giants are going to defeat the high powered Atlanta Falcons, they will need to score at least 30 points.
The New York Giants are in desperate need of a victory heading into their Monday Night showdown against the (2-4) Atlanta Falcons. They’re on a three-game losing streak and their quarterback Eli Manning has come under fire more than at any point in his 15-year career, and their superstar receiver Odell Beckham Jr.’s sideline antics are becoming tiresome.
The good news for the Giants is that their offense should get a boost as Evan Engram is expected to play after missing the last three games.
Even with Engram back, it’s going to take the Giants to play their best game of the year if they’re going to pull off the upset.
Here are the keys to victory.
1. A heavy dose of Saquon Barkley
In six games, Saquon Barkley has shown that not only is he the best rookie in the league, but he’s the best player on the Giants. He’s on pace to rush for 1,168 yards and rack up 992 receiving yards.
The Giants must give the ball to Barkley early and often on Monday night. Surprisingly, Barkley has yet to carry the ball 20 times in any game this season. This week is the perfect week to get him 20-plus carries as the Falcons are giving up 121 yards on the ground. A ground and pound attack would be ideal as it will keep the Falcons high powered offense off the field.
In addition, the Giants need to use Barkley more in the screen game rather than just checking the ball down to him.
2. Make Eli Manning comfortable in the pocket
Manning has looked uncomfortable in the pocket the entire season. He’s not surveying the field, he’s throwing off his back foot and settling for check downs often. Manning deserves much of the blame for this, but his offensive line also needs to play better.
The Falcons defense has recorded only 10 sacks this season, so you’d figure the offensive line should be able to hold their own. But if they can’t, then the Giants need to go to max protection formations and run two or three man routes to allow Manning time to find the open receiver.
The Falcons are giving up 292 yards in the air which is 29th in the NFL. So Beckham, Engram, and Sterling Shepard should be able to exploit the Falcons secondary easily.
Mix up the defensive coverages
The Giants defense faces their toughest challenge of the season as they face Matt Ryan and his array of weapons that includes Julio Jones, Calvin Ridley, Mohamed Sanu, and tight end Austin Hooper.
On paper, the Falcons playmakers against the Giants defense is a mismatch in the Falcons favor. If the Giants are going to have any chance of slowing down the Falcons offense they must disguise their coverages and try to trick Matt Ryan.
Another way to stop the Falcons offense is to create turnovers. That being said, this is something the Giants have seldom done in 2018. Through six games, the Giants have only forced five turnovers.
It’s time for the defense, in particular, Landon Collins to force turnovers that change the momentum of the game.
Win on third down
Over the last two games, the Giants have converted just four out of third-down attempts. That is putrid, to say the least. The Giants will need to convert at least 50 percent of their third down conversions if they’re going to defeat the Falcons.
Prediction: The Giants offense will come back to life on Monday, but they don’t have enough playmakers to slow down the Falcons on the road. The Falcons have scored at least 31 points in each of their four home games this season and that trend will continue.
Falcons 34, Giants 27.