The Atlanta Falcons (1-0) and New York Giants (0-1) will do battle Sunday. The Falcons enter on a short week after defeating the Philadelphia Eagles on Monday Night Football in Week 1. The Giants are coming off a heartbreaking regular season loss against the Dallas Cowboys, and are looking to wipe away the stench from Week 1.
Here are three keys to the game for both the Falcons and Giants.
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1. Lock down on Odell Beckham Jr.
This one may seem obvious, but if the Falcons can shut down Odell Beckham Jr., it could well lead them to a 2-0 start in 2015. We saw what can happen if you take Beckham out of the game when the Cowboys defeated the Giants despite turning the ball over three times. The Cowboys held Beckham to five catches for 44 yards, showing how crucial keying in on the second-year star is.
2. Julio, Julio, Julio
The world saw what Julio Jones is capable of in Kyle Shanahan's offense during the Falcons' 26-24 victory over the Philadelphia Eagles. Jones caught nine balls for 141 yards and two scores and looked like one of the best in the business. The connection between Matt Ryan and Jones can't be understated, so expect to see these two hook up plenty again.
3. Don't let Eli Manning get going
While the Falcons pulled off an impressive Week 1 victory, it's worth noting that they still allowed 336 yards through the air from Sam Bradford. Yes, Atlanta was ahead for much of the game, so the Eagles were throwing quite a bit, but Atlanta needs to keep Eli Manning's yardage down and avoid allowing him get into any type of a rhythm. The Falcons need to bring pressure.
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1. Don't force things in the passing game
The Falcons run the same defensive scheme under new head coach Dan Quinn that he ran with the Seattle Seahawks. With two or three high safeties most often lined up across the third level, the Giants need to make sure they stay patient with their offensive game plan. Manning needs to take advantage of what is available to him underneath in coverage, and this should also help him get into a rhythm.
2. Use a heavy dosage of Shane Vereen
When the Eagles began to mount their comeback against the Falcons, it was Darren Sproles and not DeMarco Murray or Ryan Mathews who lined up in the backfield. Vereen offers the Giants their best option against Quinn's defense because he can run all of the routes and get open underneath to keep drives alive.
3. Focus defensive attention on Julio Jones
In Week 1, new Giants defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo successfully focused the defensive attention on Cowboys wide receiver Dez Bryant. The Giants held Bryant to just 48 yards receiving and no touchdowns on five receptions, before Bryant missed the final two drives with an injury. The Giants will need to use a similar strategy this Sunday to take Jones out of the game.