Sunday NFC Playoff Picks: Giants battle Falcons at MetLife Stadium

Atlanta Falcons at New York Giants
Sunday, 1/8/12, 1:00 PM EST, TV:  FOX
Opening Point Spread:  NY Giants -3
Current Betting Line:  NY Giants -3
Opening Total:  49
Current Total:  47.5
Odds Courtesy of Bookmaker

Giants vs. Falcons NFC Wild Card Betting Preview
Giants RB Ahmad Bradshaw will be one of the keys to Sunday's NFC Wild Card matchup.

This time last year, the Atlanta Falcons had the week off as the top seed in the NFC while the New York Giants were sitting home for the second year in a row after winning the Super Bowl.  Both the Falcons (10-6) and Giants (9-7) struggled at times this past year before making it into the playoffs, but each of them are confident that they can be a sleeper team in the postseason.

New York (-3, O/U 47.5) and Atlanta might be the two most balanced offensive teams in the NFC when healthy.  The problem for the Giants is that running backs Ahmad Bradshaw and Brandon Jacobs missed six games between them and did not really jell until late in the season while their offensive line has also been in shambles.  They ranked dead last in the NFL in rushing overall, but three of their eight 100-yard games came in the last four weeks and all resulted in wins.

Fortunately for New York, quarterback Eli Manning enjoyed a Pro Bowl season with 4,933 yards and 29 touchdowns.  Manning broke the league’s single-season record for most fourth-quarter touchdowns with 15, including one in a 31-14 rout over Dallas at home last week that clinched the NFC East.  He also saw wide receiver Victor Cruz blow up in just his second year with a franchise-record 1,536 yards and nine touchdowns.

The Falcons are hoping to make up for last year’s disappointing playoff run that ended with a 48-21 home loss to eventual Super Bowl champion Green Bay.  They started 2011 slow, going 2-3 in their first five games before winning eight of their last 12.  A 23-16 victory at Detroit in Week 7 prevented them from having to face New Orleans for a third straight time, although that could still happen with a win over the Giants.  Like Manning, Atlanta QB Matt Ryan had a strong season with 4,177 passing yards and 29 touchdowns while RB Michael Turner ran for 1,340 yards and scored 11 times.

New York has won the last three games against the Falcons, including a 34-31 overtime victory at home in the last meeting in 2009.  The Giants also won the previous two meetings on the road and covered the spread in each of them.  They are 4-1 against the spread in their last five games overall with the total going UNDER in the past three.  Atlanta is 3-1 straight-up and ATS in its last four games overall with the total going OVER in each of them, and the road team is 8-0 ATS in the past eight meetings.

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