Monday night will bring desperation for both teams when the Atlanta Falcons play host to the New York Giants. Kickoff is scheduled for 8:15 EST on Monday, October 22, at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta. The game will be televised nationally on ESPN.
The Falcons opened the week as 3.5-point favorites. However, heavy betting in Atlanta’s favored has made the Falcons 6-point favorites at home. The over/under for the game is set at 54.5 points. Be sure to check out a full list of the Week 7 NFL odds.
At 1-5, the Giants are more or less playing for their season this week. A mediocre NFC East has kept them within two games of the other teams in their division. However, falling to 1-6 would be a near-insurmountable hill to climb.
Things really started to fall apart for the Giants at home last Thursday night when they lost to the Eagles 34-13. That embarrassing loss no doubt spoiled any optimism the Giants might have had previously. However, New York’s schedule starts to ease up over the next few weeks, so if they can win on Monday, there could be a path back into contention.
The Falcons have endured similar struggles early in the season, although they may have a little more hope to get things turned around. Atlanta snapped a three-game losing streak with a win over Tampa Bay last week. That win got them to 2-4 on the season, which at least keeps them within striking distance inside a tough NFC South.
With a win on Monday, the Falcons can head into their bye week with a little momentum because it’ll mean winning back-to-back games. Atlanta has a somewhat favorable schedule in the first few weeks following their bye, so it’s not impossible to think the Falcons can get back into the playoff picture. However, it’s vital that they win this week to avoid taking a step backward after last week’s win.
I don’t think the Falcons are a lost cause just yet, but I have a problem with the line for this game shooting up the way it has after Atlanta opened at -3.5. The Falcons are still a team with plenty of flaws and six points is a lot to cover for a 2-4 team, even at home. I’ll take my chances with the Giants at least beating the spread, even if they do it in a loss.
Despite their win last week, the Falcons still have one of the worst defenses in the NFL. They are giving up 32 points per game and have been unable to adequately replace the key starters they lost to injury early in the season. Even in a winning effort last week, the Falcons gave up over 500 total yards and were gashed on the ground by a Tampa Bay team that has struggled to run the ball for most of the season.
That porous Atlanta defense may be a lifeline for the Giants this week. New York’s offense has been plagued all season by a dreadful offensive line and a lackluster rushing attack. However, the Falcons may not be the kind of team that can expose those weaknesses. The Atlanta defense is giving up over five yards per carry on the ground and has only managed to accumulate 10 sacks in six games.
One area where the Giants have excelled offensively this season is in their short passing game to Saquon Barkley. Eli Manning doesn’t trust his offensive line enough to stand in the pocket and look deep down the field. However, Barkley has become the team’s second-leading receiver because of the team’s need to keep passes short. Meanwhile, the injuries to the Atlanta defense have made them vulnerable to running backs catching passes out of the backfield, so I’m expecting Barkley to have a big game.
Of course, scoring points has rarely been an issue for the Falcons this season. Matt Ryan and the Atlanta passing attack have been lethal, particularly at home. That being said, with Devonta Freeman missing most of the season, Atlanta has struggled to run the ball and stay balanced. Key receivers Calvin Ridley and Mohammed Sanu are also battling injuries, so it remains to be seen if they can become big factors in this game. Without them, it’ll be up to Ryan and Julio Jones to do most of the work.
To be fair, the Giants have had a world of trouble defensively the past few weeks. They were solid early in the year, but the Giants have yielded at least 33 points in each of the last three weeks. However, they do have some talent in the secondary, and knowing that they don’t have to worry too much about Atlanta’s running game could help them give Ryan and the Atlanta offense a little bit of trouble.
Like most games involving the Falcons, taking the over on total points isn’t a bad play in this game. Against the spread, I’m inclined to go with the Giants and the points. Atlanta’s defense isn’t likely to allow them to win comfortably, even if their offense continues to perform. The Giants need this game as much as the Falcons do, and I think they’ll at least be able to beat the spread.