NFL playoffs: Atlanta Falcons at New York Giants

January 2, 2012

Sunday, 1 p.m., MetLife Stadium, WTTG-5

Falcons 10-6, Giants 9-7

How the Falcons can win… The Falcons are a relatively balanced team, at least by the standards of some of this year’s top playoff contenders. They ranked 10th in the league in total offense and 12th in total defense during the regular season. The Atlanta defense ranked sixth against the run, and seems likely to shut down a Giants’ running game, which struggled all year. The Falcons rediscovered RB Michael Turner when he ran for 172 yards Sunday, and QB Matt Ryan has the receivers--in WRs Roddy White and Julio Jones and TE Tony Gonzalez—to exploit the Giants’ 29th-ranked pass defense.

How the Giants can win… The Giants enter the playoffs feeling good about themselves after beating the Jets and Cowboys on the final two weekends of the regular season to win the NFC East. They get to play at MetLife Stadium again, and they’re talking about re-creating the magic of their postseason run to a Super Bowl title after the 2007 season. QB Eli Manning has been one of the league’s most dependable players all season, leading the Giants to five victories with fourth-quarter comebacks. The defense played well against the Cowboys, sacking QB Tony Romo six times. DE Jason Pierre-Paul has become the most disruptive of the Giants’ pass rushers; he had 16-1/2 sacks during the regular season.

--Mark Maske

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