1. Who can stop Julio Jones?
There isn’t a single player on the Giants who can cover Julio Jones one on one. However, the Giants did a great job boxing Dez Bryant in double coverage and holding him to 48 yard, albeit through three quarters of action. The Giants will most likely be playing a two high safety scheme to prevent long pass plays from over the top, with Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie matching up against Jones while receiving help from either Collins or Meriwether over the top. It would be almost impossible to limit Julio Jones to less than 4 catches, but a majority of the Giants prep this week has been targeted toward ways to contain number 11. I would expect Julio too see double coverage throughout most of the game, as Spagnuolo and the defense will want to force Ryan to throw elsewhere.
2. Can the Giants put pressure on quarterback Matt Ryan?
The Giants are still going to be without pro bowl defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul, and went sack-less week 1 against the Dallas Cowboys, only recording two total tackles for a loss. The Giants are currently employing a rotational pass rush, comprised of Robert Ayers, Jonathan Hankins, Kerry Wynn, Cullen Jenkins, George Selvie, and Markus Kuhn. They are lacking an elite pass rusher, but are a deep unit that can wear and tear an offensive line. The focus for the front seven will be shutting down the run, which they did effectively in week 1 against Dallas, but with some creative blitzes, potentially involving Landon Collins or a corner could result in some game changing sacks.
3. Will Eli Manning be a man on a mission after last week?
Manning has spent the last week receiving an ample amount of criticism from the New York and national media. The 12 year pro has shown his poise, keeping a high morale throughout the week and staying adamant on “being on to Atlanta” along with offensive coordinator Ben McAdoo and the remainder of the offense. Manning and the offense only had one three and out a week ago and were able to make progress on all of their drives, but failed to capitalize extensively in the redzone. McAdoo has made comments in interviews with The Giants Beat that this week’s offensive scheme will feature more down the field throws; especially if Atlanta comes out playing with one single high safety like they did against the Eagles (however that could have been because of the three headed running back monster that the Eagles have in their back field). I expect Eli to target Odell more than the 8 times he was targeted against Dallas, and for the Manning to be fired up after a disappointing end to last week.
4. Can Odell Beckham get separation from Desmond Trufant?
If OBJ gets one on one matchups with Trufant, Eli will give his wide receiver a few shots with jump balls. OBJ is one of the most refined route runners in the game and the reason for his subpar week 1 performance was because Dallas played two deep safeties throughout the evening and did a great job of keeping containment on him. Trufant has shown that he can a true number one corner in the league, but unless he has safety help throughout the evening, I think Odell can definitely find some space to operate in the Falcons secondary.
5. Will the Giants get an early lead and keep the Falcons big-play ability at bay?
The Giants offensive mantra this week has been to employ more of a balanced attack, incorporating the run game while also controlling the clock. As for the defense, Spagnuolo knows that the biggest threat on the Falcons offense is the connection between Matt Ryan and Julio Jones/Roddy White and will be playing two high safeties for a majority of the game as he knows he has too keep both of those players in front of the defense. Rookie Landon Collins possess 4.5 speed and can be used in the box to slow down the run game while also being able to cover the back end of the defense with his exception speed. I would expect the Giants to be patient in the first quarter, taking modest throws and running the ball to reach an offensive equilibrium. The explosiveness that McAdoo has been mildly commenting on all week will be featured as the game progresses but it’s anyone’s guess as to who jumps out to the early lead; both have the high potential and octane offenses to do so.
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