Prediction, Preview, and Odds
#481 Atlanta Falcons vs.
#482 New York Giants
Sunday, September 26, 2021 at 1:00pm EDT
MetLife Stadium, East Rutherford
Written by Nathaniel Reeves

Two struggling teams with both looking to get in the win column on Sunday afternoon when the Atlanta Falcons visit the New York Giants at MetLife Stadium in Week 3 action. Atlanta was unable to keep up with the defending Tampa Bay Buccaneers in a 48-25 road loss on Sunday as a 13.5-point underdog and is now 0-2 on the season. New York is also off to a 2-0 start after losing a 30-29 heartbreaker to the Washington Football Team last Thursday as a four-point road underdog.

These teams last met in October of 2018, when the Falcons won 23-20 in Atlanta. This has historically been a competitive matchup, with Atlanta leading 13-12 all-time.

Falcons fall apart in fourth quarter against NFC South rival

There were at least a few more positive signs last Sunday than in Week 1 for the Falcons, but ultimately they were blown out for the second straight game to start the year as Tampa Bay dominated the fourth quarter. Cordarrelle Patterson recorded the only touchdown in the first half for Atlanta with a 10-yard run at the 11:48 mark of the second quarter, yet the Falcons managed to get as close as 28-25 later with Matt Ryan tossing a pair of short scoring passes in the third. That hope didn't last long, as Ryan tossed two consecutive pick sixes to Tampa Bay's Mike Edwards in the fourth quarter to make the final score look pretty ugly.

Ryan went 35/46 passing for 300 yards, two touchdowns and three interceptions. No. 4 overall pick Kyle Pitts looked a lot better than in his NFL debut the prior week, reeling in four catches for 73 yards. Atlanta actually outgained Tampa Bay 348-341, only to be undone by the three turnovers while also getting stopped three times on fourth down.

“It looks ugly in the box score, on the surface looking at it. Understanding the context of the game, we had a chance in the fourth quarter. We have to convert. To go win it or at worst flip it. We had all three timeouts. Maybe you pin them back and you have a chance. We didn’t convert and they did. That was the difference," first-year head coach Arthur Smith said to the Associated Press.

Atlanta is 0-2 against the spread after getting demolished by Philadelphia in Week 1 as a slight home favorite. Overs are off to a 1-1 start for the Falcons after last Sunday's game easily cleared the betting total of 52 points.

It's been a huge struggle on both sides of the ball for the Falcons, as they are averaging just 15.5 points and 304 yards per game in the early going. Atlanta is dead last in scoring defense at 40 points per game allowed, with opponents racking up 387.5 yards per contest.

Ryan is shaky in the early going, completing 56 of 81 pass attempts for 464 yards, two touchdowns and three interceptions as he enters his age-36 season. Ridley is poised for another big year with 12 catches for 114 yards and a score. Linebacker Deion Jones leads the Atlanta defense with 15 tackles including two for a loss, one sack and one quarterback hit.

No. 2 wide receiver Russell Gage has been absent from practice this week due to an ankle problem, making his status uncertain for the weekend. Starting cornerback A.J. Terrell (concussion) and wide receiver Frank Darby (calf) are also questionable as they did not practice on Thursday. Atlanta's offensive line was hit hard by preseason injuries, with tackle Matt Gono (undisclosed) and center Josh Andrews (hand) both going on injured reserve.

Giants lose on last-second field goal

New York will need to bounce back quickly from a painful loss at Washington last Thursday after blowing numerous opportunities to put a back-and-forth game away. Daniel Jones staked the Giants to an early lead on a six-yard touchdown run and later connected with Darius Slayton on a 33-yard scoring pass in the third quarter to go up 20-14. Three Graham Gano field goals in the fourth quarter alone including a 35-yarder at the two-minute warning put New York up 29-27, and the Giants appeared to have the win as Washington missed a field goal as time expired, only to hit the second game-winning attempt after Dexter Lawrence was flagged for being offside.

Jones had one of the best games of his career, completing 22 of 32 pass attempts for 349 yards and a touchdown while adding nine carries for a team-high 95 yards and a score. Sterling Shepard was the top target for the Giants with nine receptions for 94 yards. It was an even game with the Football Team finishing with a 407-391 advantage in total yards, with New York's 11 penalties for 81 yards including the offside on the last play and an earlier holding to call back a long Jones touchdown run making the big difference.

“It comes down to the small details and obviously we didn’t get those done today,” Shepard said to the Associated Press. “It’s something that we’ve got to go back to the drawing board and get corrected.”

New York is 1-1 against the spread after losing by two touchdowns in Week 1 to the Denver Broncos as a slight underdog. Overs are 1-1 for the Giants so far after last Thursday's game comfortably went over the betting total of 41 points.

That was a much better performance from the Giants offense, which is now averaging 21 points and 352.5 yards per game in the early going. New York's defense, which made a lot of strides last season, is off to a slow start with 28.5 points and 413.5 yards per game allowed.

In a make-or-break season, Jones has completed 44 of 69 pass attempts for 516 yards, two touchdowns and no interceptions while leading the team in rushing with 15 carries for 122 yards and two scores. Shepard is playing very well through two games with 16 carries for 207 yards and a score. James Bradberry has been productive from the cornerback spot with 14 tackles, an interception and two pass breakups.

There are quite a few players on the injury report for the Giants, although linebacker Cam Brown (ankle) was the only one not to practice on Thursday. Defensive backs Logan Ryan (hamstring) and Nate Ebner (quad) were limited, along with defensive tackle Austin Johnson (illness). First round pick Karadius Toney got added to the injury report on Thursday with an ankle problem, while fellow wide receiver Kenny Golladay is dealing with a hip problem. Tight end Evan Engram didn't play last week and remains questionable with a strained calf. Running back Saquon Barkley is still limited in practice as he recovers from a torn ACL, but has been playing on game days. Center Nick Gates suffered a devastating leg injury in the last game, while guard Shane Lemieux is also on injured reserve with a knee problem.

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Full-Game Side Bet

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These both look like teams who are going to lose a lot of games this season, but the talent advantage offensively for the Falcons will be the difference here. Smith is a good enough coach to get this Falcons offense going soon enough, and the veteran Ryan has far superior weapons to work with than his opponent Jones on the other side.

The bigger concerns for the Giants might be on the other end right now, as a defense that played well in 2020 has not looked nearly that good this season with 6.1 yards per play allowed. If quarterbacks like Teddy Bridgewater and Taylor Heinicke can move the ball against New York, Ryan certainly can too given the quality of his receivers, and the Falcons performed decently on both sides of the ball last week against an elite Tampa Bay team even though the final score got away.

Jones has not been able to consistently string together good performances in his career with his fumble problem still looming, and Barkley not looking close to full health plus a big-money free-agent addition in Golladay not contributing much yet doesn't help the situation. Atlanta won't be worth betting much this season, but can handle a Giants team that shouldn't be favored in this matchup given all their problems.

Prediction: Falcons +3

Full-Game Total Pick

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Atlanta seems to be stuck in a perpetual rebuild on the defensive side of the ball, finishing better than 19th in scoring defense just once in the last eight years, and the talent isn't there to make things any different this season. At the very least, Jones can make some plays with his legs as one of the fastest quarterbacks in the NFL, and Barkley is slowly but surely coming along as he looked like his usual explosive self on one 41-yard run in the last game.

A big storyline for the Falcons will be Pitts' development, as tight end is usually a position where rookies don't offer much production, but the No. 4 overall pick showed a lot of improvement between his first game and Week 2. Based on the way these defenses have played so far, a total in the 40s isn't enough.

Prediction: Over 47.5
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Written By Nathaniel Reeves , "Nathaniel Reeves"

Nathaniel Reeves is an avid sports fan with degrees in journalism from the University of Washington and statistics from Western Washington University. He's always had a passion for applying statistical analysis to sports betting and has successfully handicapped college football, college basketball, and Esports for years. Nathaniel has endured being a lifelong fan of the Seattle Mariners, along with the Seattle Seahawks, UW Huskies and soon to be Seattle Kraken. He has been a very successful sports bettor the last several years and we are thrilled that Nate has chosen to bring his talents to us here at Winners & Whiners. You would be very wise to follow him daily.