Kel Dansby: The Atlanta Falcons have been almost unbeatable at home since Matt Ryan was drafted by the team. Also they have the added weight of being embarrassed by the Giants in the first round of the playoffs last season. With all of that said I am going with the Giants to pull the upset. Why you ask? Because the Giants love to achieve the unthinkable. I’ve seen the Panther and Raiders both take the Falcons down to the wire in Atlanta and I think Eli comes up big in the 4th to capture the victory. Giants 34, Atlanta 31
Sam Spiegelman: Though I believe New York is the superior football team, I lean toward Atlanta in this particular contest. The Falcons play on another level in the Georgia Dome, especially considering the circumstances in this game. Last week, Carolina embarrassed Atlanta — add in the fact the Giants did the same in the Wildcard round of last year’s playoffs. And let’s be honest, the Giants have the ability to play a tremendous game and follow it up with a stinker. I won’t say they won’t be ready for this one, but the Falcons will play with a greater chip on their shoulders. Atlanta 27, New York 20
Jim Mancari: If there is a team in the NFL that can go on the road and beat the team with the best record, it’s the New York Football Giants. Big Blue has had so much success on the road during the Eli Manning era that playing in a dome environment shouldn’t phase them. The key to this game will be for the Giants’ defense to limit the number of big plays. Roddy White and Julio Jones can score a touchdown every time they touch the ball, so the Giants need to force Matt Ryan into bad decisions. The 24-2 Falcons’ playoff loss from last season is fresh in their minds, but now that Manning has a healthy receiving core, the Giants’ offense is dangerous. Even with Ahmad Bradshaw banged up, “Turbo” Wilson will get plenty of touches. This is going to be an intense game, as the Falcons do not want to limp into the playoffs while the Giants want to keep their destiny in their own hands. Both teams have strong offenses, so defense will likely determine the outcome of this game. Giants 24, Falcons 20
John Fennelly, Executive Editor
The Falcons play everyone tough. Thirteen games, eleven wins, which means they are opportunistic and clutch. They will not give the game away to you (+6 turnover ratio). The Falcons are a passing team now (28th in the league in rushing with only two 100-yard games from RB Michael Turner) and star WR Roddy White is hurting (knee). That one-dimension will hurt them vs the more versatile teams, such as the Giants. QB Matt Ryan has thrown 511 times thus far this season and with three games to go, he’ll easily surpass his career highs for attempts, completions and yards.
The Giants have just as many weapons, perhaps more. They, too, have injuries (Hakeem Nicks, Ahmad Bradshaw) on offense so the passing games will offset each other. Rookie David Wilson has become the ultimate X factor for the Giants going forward. His speed has to be accounted for not only on special teams, but on offense. He gives the Giants a home run hitter out of the backfield that will open additional opportunities for Eli Manning to take advantage of.
The Giants have a +16 turnover ratio, second best to New England, who is thrashing everyone in their path. The key for the Giants today is to continue to take the ball away and convert those turnovers into points. Jayron Hosley is starting for Prince Amukamara (hamstring) and the Giants hope he and S Stevie Brown can get their hands on an INT or two today. Their red zone efficiency has been getting better lately as well. If they come away with sevens rather than threes, they’ll take this one easily.. Giants 27, Falcons 17