MNF: Giants vs. Falcons
In last season's trip to Atlanta, the New York Giants sacked Michael Vick seven times. Getting to Joey Harrington - or Byron Leftwich - should be even easier, given the current state of the Falcons' offensive line.
The Giants look to win their fourth straight game and continue their success in Atlanta when they meet the injury-plagued Falcons on Monday night.
The visiting team has won the last 11 meetings in the series, including New York's 27-14 victory last Oct. 15. Osi Umenyiora had two of the seven sacks of Vick for the Giants (3-2), winners of six in a row in Atlanta since a 23-20 loss on Oct. 1, 1978.
Oddsmakers from SBG Global have made New York -3 point spread favorites (View NFL Football odds) for Monday Night's game, the over/under has been set at 43.5 total points (Game Matchup). Current public betting information shows that 83% of bets for this game have been placed on New York -3 (View NFL Football bet percentages).
Two weeks after piling up 12 sacks against Philadelphia, Umenyiora and his teammates could have another big day rushing the passer. Atlanta (1-4) will be forced to use two new starting offensive tackles, with veteran left tackle Wayne Gandy done for the season after tearing an ACL in last week's 20-13 loss at Tennessee, and right tackle Todd Weiner out for two weeks after undergoing knee surgery Wednesday.
Falcons coach Bobby Petrino will use undrafted rookie Renardo Foster, a Louisville product, to replace Gandy, while second-year player Tyson Clabo will line up in Weiner's spot. The line already features one rookie starter in second-round draft pick Justin Blalock, the left guard.
Foster will be on the spot against Umenyiora, who set a franchise record with six sacks against the Eagles. Umenyiora was matched up with left tackle Winston Justice, who was making his first NFL start, in New York's 16-3 victory over Philadelphia.
"It is a pretty good concern," Petrino admitted. "We watch him (Umenyiora) on tape, and he is a great pass rusher and obviously has all kinds of production, so we certainly have to make sure we try to take care of Renardo and help him as much as we can."
The Giants, though, managed just one sack - by Umenyiora - in last week's 35-24 victory over the New York Jets.
"We need to improve," Giants coach Tom Coughlin said. "That is something we are analyzing right now. I thought the Jets did a nice job with their scheme, to be honest with you. I thought they did a good job with their protection and their chips and their slides and their chips and the tight end being one so I won't take anything away from them."
While both teams endured their share of controversy in training camp and in the first few weeks of the season, the Falcons are currently dealing with more issues than the Giants. Petrino has insisted that Harrington will again be the starter, although he inserted Leftwich late in the Tennessee game with Atlanta driving for a tying touchdown.
"We got in a situation last week where we were getting a lot of pass rush, he (Harrington) got hit a few times, he usually completes the throws that in the third quarter he was not, and we were just trying to get a spark when we put Byron in there," Petrino said.
In addition, four-time Pro Bowl tight end Alge Crumpler had just two catches for four yards last week and criticized Petrino after the game, questioning the play-calling and accusing the new coaching staff of favoring young players over the veterans.
"We have already had meetings and talked about it," Petrino said. "Alge and I are just fine."
New York is hoping that Plaxico Burress continues his tremendous start to the season. Burress, who has played the last three weeks despite barely practicing due to a sprained right ankle, has scored in every game and is tied with New England's Randy Moss for the NFL lead with seven touchdown receptions.
It's the highest total by a Giant through five games since Homer Jones had than many in 1967.
"I just have to find a way to block it out and just go out and play the way that I need to play and the way that my team expects me to go out and play," Burress said. "But it's one of those things that kind of sits in the back of your mind. You don't want to re-injure it or you don't want to miss a game."
The Giants were also bolstered last week by the return of Brandon Jacobs, who rushed for 100 yards and a touchdown on 20 carries after missing three games due to a knee sprain suffered in the season opener.
New York got 185 yards rushing from Tiki Barber in last season's win over Atlanta, and Eli Manning overcame two first-quarter interceptions by throwing two second-half touchdowns to Jeremy Shockey.
Shockey has just three catches in the last two games, but hauled in his first touchdown of the season last week.
Manning has won seven straight starts in October.
By: Staci Richards - theSpread.com - Email Us
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