A rematch from last season's NFC playoffs or a preview of this seaon's? Take your pick when the NFC East-leading New York Giants travel to Atlanta to face the NFC South champion Falcons in a high-profile showdown Sunday afternoon. The Giants spoiled Atlanta's postseason with a 24-2 win on their way to a Super Bowl title last season, but the Falcons came back stronger this season - at least until last week's 30-20 loss at Carolina. Atlanta still boasts the best record in the NFC.
New York maintained its one-game lead in the NFC East by pounding New Orleans 52-27 last week, as Eli Manning threw four touchdown passes and rookie David Wilson had a breakout game. The all-time series is tied at 10 wins apiece, but the Giants have won the past three regular-season meetings, including a 34-31 overtime victory at home in the most recent contest in 2009 and a 31-10 win in their last trip to the Georgia Dome in 2007.
TV: 1 p.m. ET, FOX. LINE: Falcons -1.5. O/U: 51
ABOUT THE GIANTS (8-5): Inconsistency has been the biggest problem for Manning and the Giants, who have lost three of their last five but looked unbeatable in the victories against Green Bay and New Orleans. With Ahmad Bradshaw (foot, knee) knocked out early last week, Wilson had a historic game by becoming the first player in NFL history with at least 100 rushing yards and 200 kick return yards in a game. He scored three touchdowns (two rush, one kick return). The defense has given up lots of yards but has used 34 turnovers - second-most in the league - to mitigate the damage.
ABOUT THE FALCONS (11-2): Atlanta has followed the same blueprint on defense, forcing 24 turnovers to offset ranking 20th in the league in total yards allowed, but the Falcons have failed to record a takeaway in four of their past seven games. Matt Ryan has won 32 of his first 36 home starts - the best mark by a quarterback in the Super Bowl era - and has won 10 straight at the Georgia Dome. Ryan has enjoyed a huge season while spreading the ball to a talented receiving corps that includes Roddy White (1,140 yards, 5 TDs), Julio Jones (997 yards, 7 TDs) and Tony Gonzalez (831 yards, 7 TDs). Jones needs three receiving yards for his first 1,000-yard season.
1. The Falcons can clinch a first-round bye with a win and a Green Bay loss or tie, a win and a San Francisco loss, or a tie and a Green Bay loss. They can clinch the top seed in the NFC with a win, a Green Bay loss or tie and a San Francisco loss.
2. Giants WR Victor Cruz has 225 receiving yards in the past two games and has gone over 100 yards in each contest.
3. The Falcons are 30-1 when Ryan has a rating of 100 or better, including a 19-0 mark at home.
Falcons 27, Giants 24