NFL Playoffs Preview: Atlanta Falcons vs. New York Giants

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In previewing Saturday’s Lions vs. Saints matchup, when talking about How the Underdog Detroit Lions Can Pull the Upset, I mentioned that the Lions best chance to beat the Saints was to shut down Darren Sproles who had averaged 82-yards from scrimmage per game during the regular season. In yesterday’s Wild Card the game Mighty Mite had 14-touches for 85-yards (8.5-yards every time he touched the ball) and two TD’s. Sproles effectiveness out of the back field created havoc for the Detroit Lions defense ultimately causing confusion and breakdowns in both the passing game and the running game.

The Atlanta Falcons aren’t nearly the large underdog on the road today against the New York Giants as the Lions were yesterday, but to me this line is “off” and the game should be a pick’em. Let’s not forget how these lines end up where they are by kickoff. The odds makers have to draw equal money in on both sides to hedge their risk. So while a line might be set at a number “those in the know” feel the game will end up to start with, what money comes in and who it’s bet on dictates where the line moves.

I know the Giants are at home but handicapping the two offenses I would say that Roddy White and Julio Jones vs. Victor Cruz and Hakeem Nicks are a wash. Both wideout tandems have 16 TDs and even if you want to quibble with my assessments giving the Giants the nod there as they have more total yards, that’s more than made up by the Falcons having Tony Gonzalez at TE trumping the ménage trios of Jake Ballard, Travis Beckum and Bear Pascoe. And in the running game, whether it’s the offensive line or the backs themselves, the Falcons running game with Michael Turner carrying the rock is clearly superior; at least it was during the regular season.

The Giants defensive line when healthy is perhaps the best in the game and the past two weeks they have had 11-sacks. It will be interesting to see how the Falcons deal with the pass rush if the Giants are able to put pressure on Matt Ryan rushing the four lineman and that’s something that could prove to be a difference maker in this game. John Abraham who had 9.5 sacks for Atlanta this season is going to have to come up big if the Falcons are going to get Eli Manning off his mark.

How quickly we forget that the Falcons were the favorite of many to reach and even win the Super Bowl during the preseason by many of the pundits. If this game were played on a neutral site I would expect the Atlanta to be a 3-point favorite. The Giants are home which traditionally swings it 3-points the other way making it a pick’em. If you are wagering on this game I would suggest the prudent thing to do is to take the Falcons getting 3-points. In this instance not only could the Falcons win the game or lose by one or two, but you have the protection of a push if the Giants win by a field goal. If you feel jumpy and want to take the Falcons moneyline, at +130 the risk / reward just isn’t there and I just don’t see the difference you’ll make if you win worth the risk of losing the protection of the 3-point push.

This matchup should be one of the more competitive games this weekend and I think that there is a good risk/reward opportunity to take advantage of a line is misplaced the morning of the game.

The founder and former owner of MC3 Sports Media, Mike Cardano is the Sr. Business Administrator for RotoExperts and the Executive Director here at You may email Mike @ [email protected] or follow him on Twitter @MikeCardano. Listen to Mike on Sirius XM Fantasy Sports Radio with Scott Engel and the morning crew Tuesday mornings at 10am ET.