Preview: Giants at Falcons
Quarterback Matt Ryan and the Atlanta Falcons withstood a late comeback to end a three-game slide last weekend in what may have been a season-saving victory. That’s pretty much the same position the reeling New York Giants and the much-maligned Eli Manning find themselves in when they head to Atlanta to take on the Falcons on Monday Night Football.
One season after finishing 3-13 and winding up with prize running back Saquon Barkley with the No. 2 pick in the NFL Draft, New York is off to a 1-5 start amid growing cries that Manning needs to be yanked from the starting lineup. “I know he’s the punching bag right now,” Giants co-owner John Mara told reporters earlier this week. “But a lot of guys need to play better when you’re 1-5.” Atlanta has plenty of issues of its own — namely injuries — but still has Ryan and favorite target Julio Jones, the subject of pregame hype with New York’s Odell Beckham Jr. on the opposite sideline. “In our league today, there are a handful of receivers who garner that special attention,” Falcons coach Dan Quinn said. “It just so happens that two of them are matched up this week. They are different players, but really effective in their own right.”
TV: 8:15 p.m. ET, ESPN. LINE: Falcons -4. O/U: 54
ABOUT THE GIANTS (1-5): Barkley has lived up to his pre-draft hype, rushing for 130 yards and a touchdown and catching nine balls for 99 yards in a 34-13 loss to the Philadelphia Eagles on Oct. 11. Barkley has a chance to make history against the Falcons and join Kansas City’s Kareem Hunt as the only players to pile up at least 100 yards from scrimmage in seven consecutive games to begin their career. Manning continues to have trouble connected with Beckham and has averaged 6.5 yards or fewer per pass attempt in four of six games. New York’s defense has allowed 27 points per game and is tied for last in the league with 7.0 sacks.
ABOUT THE FALCONS (2-4): Ryan is third in the NFL with 1,956 passing yards and has 12 touchdowns and zero interceptions over the past four games after throwing for 340 yards and three scores in last week’s win over Tampa Bay. Jones had 10 catches for 144 yards against the Buccaneers and is second in the league with 708 yards, but he has yet to find the end zone after scoring only three touchdowns in 2017. With Devanta Freeman going on injured reserve following groin surgery this week, Tevin Coleman and rookie Ito Smith will share the load in the backfield. Atlanta is 30th in total defense (417.2 yards) and 31 in points allowed (32.0).
1. Ryan has an NFL-best 1,432 yards and 128.2 passer rating since Week 3.
2. Giants TE Evan Engram is expected to return after sitting out the last three games.
3. Falcons DE Takk McKinley has 4.5 sacks in the last five games.