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    NEWS, NOTES, RUMORS, AND GOSSIP: SATURDAY, JANUARY 7, 2012 - 7:43 A.M.

    HERE NOW THE NEWS

    THE DATA WILL UPDATE THROUGHOUT THE DAY AND SHOW THE UPDATE TIME IN THE HEADER.

    NFC EAST DIVISION CHAMPIONS

    NEWARK STAR LEDGER


    GIANTS' JAKE BALLARD CERTAIN HE'LL PLAY

    Excerpt: "
    Giants tight end Jake Ballard said
    the biggest test to see whether he would play Sunday would be going through
    Thursday’s practice smoothly. He was able to do that and practiced again today
    and is certain he’ll take the field against the Atlanta Falcons.


    “Absolutely. No doubt (I’m playing),” he said.




    “He seemed to have ended on an up note,” coach Tom Coughlin said. “He moved
    well today so I am very optimistic about that, too.”




    Ballard has missed two games after partially tearing the posterior cruciate
    ligament in his knee against Washington in Week 15. He is listed as probable on
    the injury report and expects to play at “full speed.”




    “It’s not going to be feel 100 percent, but it feels better than it did a
    week ago,” he said.




    He doesn’t plan to wear a knee brace, but expects to have his knee wrapped
    and wear extra padding.




    “If I put a big brace on it, it might slow me down,” he said. “I’m already
    not fast to begin with.”




    RB D.J. Ware had an Atlanta Hawks cap in his locker,
    representative of his Atlanta-area roots. Ware grew up in Rockmart, Ga., about
    40 minutes northwest of the city, but never called himself a Falcons fan.




    “I would say I was a Deion Sanders fan, but I wasn’t really a fan of the
    team,” Ware said. “I was too busy worrying about me and making myself better to
    be a fan.”




    The fifth-year running back out of the University of Georgia said a few
    friends from college have reached out to him on Facebook saying they were
    rooting for him individually, but the Falcons to win the game.




    In order for that to happen the Falcons will have to stop the Giants run
    game, which has picked up lately. Ware has been effective in his third-down
    running back role and ran for 15 yards on two carries last week against
    Dallas.




    “We’re running the ball well and I’m just happy to help out where I can,
    whether it be picking up blitzes, catching it out of the backfield or running
    it,” he said." Read more...


    GIANTS-FALCONS GAME PREVIEW: A LOOK AHEAD AT WHAT SHOULD BE A CLOSE PLAYOFF GAME

    "
    Usually, by this point in a regular-season week, we've talked about most of
    the coming game but have left a few dangling keys and matchups.


    This week, we've covered Giants-Falcons from top to bottom.




    So let's just do a quick brush-up on a few things, with some added analysis
    by me where I can provide it, and get to your opinions, predictions and insights
    down below.




    * * * *




    SUNDAY'S GAME: vs. Atlanta Falcons, 1 p.m., Fox




    MATCHUPS TO WATCH




    Offense: I recall watching the Falcons' game against the
    Saints two weeks ago and hearing Jon Gruden say New Orleans wanted to make CB
    Brent Grimes tackle. It was Grimes' first game back since
    having knee surgery a few weeks prior.




    Well, Grimes then sat out this past weekend's game and two practices this
    week. He returned to work today and is listed as questionable, though I'd highly
    doubt he'll sit out on Sunday. So why not make him tackle again? The Giants have
    a couple of guys who are tough to tackle in RBs Brandon Jacobs
    and Ahmad Bradshaw, so that could be a nice way to soften
    Grimes up early. Get those guys to the edge and see how the undersized,
    banged-up guy responds.




    Also, the Giants might be wise to throw some "now" routes (quick throws at
    the line) with WR Hakeem Nicks - if he gets the chance to see
    Grimes. Nicks is a physical guy, so he could be an issue. Plus, there's that
    receiver screen they like to throw to RB D.J. Ware, which could
    be effective. And if WR Victor Cruz is covered by Grimes, well
    his shiftiness could be a problem for that achy knee.




    Long story short, the Falcons are at a disadvantage because Grimes is
    hurting. Let's see if the Giants try to attack that potential weak spot.




    Defense: You have to give the Falcons credit. They went out
    and tried to get their hands on A.J. Green in the draft but couldn't get to him
    before the Bengals did. Sensing the need to add another target for QB Matt Ryan,
    they stayed aggressive and traded up for WR Julio Jones. They
    wanted to create matchup nightmares for opposing defenses who had to deal with
    Jones, WR Roddy White and TE Tony
    Gonzalez
    .




    Now, after a very good rookie season for Jones (54 catches for 959 yards and
    eight touchdowns in 13 games played), they have exactly what they want heading
    into Sunday's game against the Giants.




    Okay, so how do the Giants defend it? Whom does CB Corey
    Webster
    cover? He's been the guy to match
    up against an opposing team's No. 1 receiver
    for much of the year and has
    been very successful at times. Still, the Giants didn't play the matchup game
    against the Cowboys' balanced group of receivers this past weekend. (For most of
    the game, though they seemed to match up Webster on WR Dez Bryant in no-huddle
    situations.) And I don't think they'll do it here, either.

    In doing some research, it sounds like they might have Webster and CB
    Aaron Ross play sides and however the Falcons line up, so be
    it. That's actually a pretty wise approach, I think, because you get to have
    each guy play the side on which he's most comfortable - Ross on the right,
    Webster on the left. And it's not like either guy is a slouch, so there's really
    not a clear No. 1 there. I do think Webster has to do a good job of stopping
    Jones from getting vertical quickly when he lines up against him. If that guy
    gets going into a deep route easily, look out.


    As for Gonzalez, you're going to have to let LBs Michael
    Boley
    and Jacquian Williams cover him and just pray
    they show up ready to play. They have at times, and I thought Boley did a pretty
    decent job against the Pats' Rob Gronkowski earlier this year, so to devote an
    extra man to Gonzalez with White and Jones on the outside would be a mistake, in
    my opinion.




    THE LINE: Giants by 3. Over-under 47.




    THE PREDICTION: I've given only a general feel for things in
    the blog this season instead of exact scores but after my call of 31-13 Giants
    last week (just 1 point off the final), the pressure's on. I'll say 27-24 Giants
    here.




    ONE MORE THING: Falcons LB Curtis Lofton might be one of the
    more under-appreciated defensive players in the league. This guy can hit and
    isn't bad in coverage, either. Keep an eye on No. 50, particularly when the
    Giants try to run the ball right up the gut. I wouldn't mind seeing him and
    Jacobs go 1-on-1 a few times to see who wins that battle."

    FALCON'S INJURY REPORT: LB STEPHEN NICHOLAS DOUBTFUL, CB BRENT GRIMES QUESTIONABLE

    "
    The Atlanta Falcons finished practice yesterday a lot more confident their top
    cornerback will be available tomorrow against the Giants.


    Brent Grimes, who missed the team’s regular-season finale against the Tampa
    Bay Buccaneers, missed practice Wednesday as a precautionary measure due to a
    knee issue but practiced on a limited basis Thursday and yesterday.




    “It’s the playoffs, so I need to be out there helping the team,” Grimes said.
    “My knee feels good, and today was all about getting my timing down in
    practice.”




    The team officially listed him as questionable for tomorrow, but Grimes is
    likely to start.




    The only Falcons player listed as doubtful is linebacker
    Stephen Nicholas, who was off to the side with the training staff yesterday
    working through a toe injury.



    All of the following players are listed as probable and are
    expected to play tomorrow: DE John Abraham (non-injury related), DT Jonathan
    Babineaux (hamstring), RB Mike Cox (finger), WR Harry Douglas (groin), TE Tony
    Gonzalez (non-injury related), DT Peria Jerry (calf), WR Julio Jones (thumb), TE
    Reggie Kelly (back), LB Curtis Lofton (ankle), C Todd McClure (non-injury
    related), WR Kerry Meier (groin), S William Moore (groin), CB Christopher Owens
    (hand), TE Michael Palmer (knee), RB Jason Snelling (knee), RB Michael Turner
    (groin), LB Sean Weatherspoon (head) and WR Roddy White (hip).




    Abraham, Gonzalez and McClure are typically rested early in the practice week
    but have to appear on the report as non-injury-related absences."

    GIANTS' JUSTIN TUCK DOESN'T PRACTICE BUT IT ISN'T A CONCERN

    Excerpt: "
    Justin Tuck didn't practice today due to a shoulder injury he aggravated
    against the Cowboys last week, but Tom Coughlin said he was just sore and it
    isn't a concern. He is listed as probable for Sunday's playoff game against
    Atlanta.


    Tuck has battled injuries all season -- from his neck down to a toe -- but
    turned the corner over the final two weeks of the regular season by fighting
    through the pain mentally, as he put it. Last week against the Cowboys, after
    suffering the shoulder injury, he sacked Tony Romo to force a fumble.




    Tuck wouldn't talk to reporters, who asked him several times about the injury
    and his status. All he offered was a "no comment."




    ***




    TE Jake Ballard went through today's practice without a setback and said he
    expects to go "full speed" against the Falcons. Ballard hasn't played since
    partially tearing his PCL against Washington in Week 15." Read more...

    GIANTS' VICRTOR CRUZ TURNS DOWN DANCING WITH THE STARS OFFER; SAYS MAYVBE IN THE FUTURE

    Excerpt: "It was only a matter of time.


    It began as homage to his Puerto Rican roots. Nine touchdowns and 1,500-plus
    yards later, Victor Cruz, the Giants' breakout receiver, was offered a spot on
    the upcoming season of Dancing With the Stars. But, citing where he's at in his
    football career and the time commitment the show calls for, he turned it down.




    "I just didn't want to do it," Cruz said. "I'm just not at a point where I
    felt like I should be doing that stuff."




    Cruz said the show would air from approximately from March to May and would
    require about 20 hours of practice per week.




    "We're in the postseason, that's like 18 weeks," said Cruz. "I had enough
    practice for now. I'm not trying to go into another three months worth of
    practice.




    Then there were the outfits the performers on the show wear.




    "Yeah, that was definitely one of the reasons," Cruz said." Read more...


    NY DAILY NEWS

    GIANTS' VICTOR CRUZ TURNS DOWN OPPORTUNITY TO APPEAR ON ABC'S "DANCING WITH THE STATS"

    Excerpt: "Yes, Victor Cruz can salsa
    with the best of them in a one-of-a-kind TD dance. No, that doesn't mean he has
    any interest in showing off that salsa on ABC.



    Cruz said Friday that he turned down an offer from ABC's "Dancing with the
    Stars." He said he "kind of knew" the offer was coming, but as soon as his agent
    mentioned the letter from ABC, Cruz knew he'd decline.




    "Probably a no," Cruz said. "Definitely a no. Because I just want to be
    focused on football and focused on what's to come. I'm just not at the point in
    my career where I feel like I need to do that."




    Cruz said ABC would have wanted him "like March through June or May or
    something like that," and the time commitment was just too rigorous for him to
    strongly consider it." Read more...



    THE VOTES ARE IN, JPP NAMES ALL-PRO, JUSTIN TUCK PROBABLY FOR FALCONS' GAME



    Excerpt: "The latest accolade for Jason
    Pierre-Paul
    ? The second-year defensive end was named to the Associated Press
    All-Pro team. JPP received 34 of a possible 50 votes after racking up 16-1/2
    sacks and making 86 tackles this season.




    It's worth noting that Minnesota Vikings DE Jared Allen, who
    finished the year with a ridiculous 22 sacks, received 49 of 50 possible votes.
    That means he's the front-runner for the AP Defensive Player of the Year
    honors.




    Victor Cruz finished
    fourth in WR voting, behind Detroit's
    Calvin Johnson
    , New England's Wes Welker and Arizona's
    Larry Fitzgerald.
    Cruz received nine votes.




    Chris Snee received two
    votes, placing eighth among guards.




    No other Giant received a vote. No, not even Eli Manning, he of the
    nearly 5,000 yards passing and the NFL-record 15 fourth-quarter TD passes.




    HURT LOCKER
    Good news on the Giants' injury front: The only player
    who will not suit up on Sunday against the Atlanta Falcons is rookie LB
    Mark Herzlich
    (ankle)." Read more...

    NY POST

    GIANTS LOOK TO SHUT DOWN FALCONS' RUNNING GAME

    Excerpt: "Among the NFL’s top 20 rushers this year, no one weighs more than Atlanta’s
    Michael Turner. Most are not within 20 pounds of the 5-foot-10, 247-pounder, and
    just three are shorter than him.



    “He’s a bowling ball,” Giants linebacker and former Falcons teammate Michael
    Boley said yesterday, laughing. “Nah, he’s tough to tackle. I’m not going to say
    he’s real short, but he’s shorter than a lot of backs that we’ve faced. He’s
    kind of stocky. It’s tough to get lower than he does.”




    Turner is one of the league’s premier backs, and in tomorrow’s NFC wild-card
    game at MetLife Stadium, the Giants will have a daunting assignment in
    attempting to rein him in. That certainly falls to the vaunted defensive line
    that includes Justin Tuck, Jason Pierre-Paul, Chris Canty and Linval Joseph. But
    it also will fall on the Giants’ linebacking corps of Boley, Mathias Kiwanuka,
    Chase Blackburn and rookie Jacquian Williams.





    This season, the Giants’ run defense hasn’t been impressive or effective. It
    ranked 19th in rushing yards surrendered per game (121.3) and was tied for 22nd
    in yards per carry (4.5).




    That’s not a good sign, considering Turner averaged 4.5 yards per carry en
    route to his NFC-best 1,340 yards this season.




    The Giants, however, have been better against ground games over the last few
    weeks. In Week 17, they held the Cowboys to just 49 yards on 16 carries (a 3.1
    average) and limited lead back Felix Jones to 30 yards on 11 attempts. The Jets
    had 105 rushing yards in Week 16, but on 25 carries for a 4.2 average — a bit
    better than the Giants’ season marks. In the Giants’ Week 15 loss to the
    Redskins, the run defense was good, too. Washington racked up 123 yards but it
    took them 40 carries — for an average of 3.1 yards per attempt.




    Why has the run defense been improved?




    “Just attention to detail, focusing on our job assignments and understanding
    what the defense is asking,” said Kiwanuka, whose penetration against Dallas was
    something coach Tom Coughlin singled out as a reason for the improved run play.
    “And then on top of that, these are games that we had to win. In essence, our
    playoffs have started a couple weeks ago, so we just had to get it done and
    everybody wanted it more.” Read more...

    TUCK MUM ON SHOULDER

    Excerpt: "Justin Tuck’s shoulder was a enough of a problem yesterday to force him to
    miss practice, and the Giants could be curious and alarmed about how he will be
    affected tomorrow against the Falcons.



    It is unknown what happened to Tuck’s shoulder or when it occurred, because
    he was not listed on the injury report this week and practiced in full on
    Wednesday and Thursday.




    Tuck is listed as probable for tomorrow’s playoff game at MetLife Stadium,
    and coach Tom Coughlin said his defensive captain was simply dealing with
    soreness.




    “He was just sore. He’s sore,” Coughlin said, downplaying the idea it could
    be a problem. “It’s not what you want, but we had good work out of everybody
    else.” Read more...

    TUCK SITS OUT GIANTS' PRACTICE WITH SORE SHOULDER

    Excerpt: "Defensive end Justin Tuck did not participate in Giants practice Friday, a
    potentially alarming development heading into Sunday’s NFC Wild Card playoff
    game against the Falcons.



    The Giants said Tuck’s issue involves his shoulder. He’s listed as probable
    for the game.




    Tom Coughlin downplayed it, saying he did not expect the shoulder to hamper
    Tuck on Sunday.




    “He was just sore. He’s sore,” Coughlin said. “It’s not what you want, but we
    had good work out of everybody else.”




    Tuck has been hampered all season with neck, groin, ankle and toe woes, but
    the team’s defensive captain was not even on the injury report this week,
    practicing fully Wednesday and Thursday.




    Tuck would not answer any questions about his shoulder or his status, saying,
    “No comment” to all of them.




    If Tuck is limited Sunday, the Giants defensive line will be significantly
    altered. Osi Umenyiora could get more playing time, though how many snaps he can
    give the Giants is questionable because he returned last week from a sprained
    ankle. Reserve end Dave Tollefson could see more time." Read more...


    THE BERGEN RECORD



    THE NEW YORK TIMES

    GIANTS SAY CAPTAINS EARN RESPECT

    Excerpt: "Not many Giants watched the boiling point moment in the
    Jets
    ’ season-ending defeat last weekend, when an in-the-huddle fracas
    banished wide receiver Santonio Holmes to the sideline and a solitary seat on
    the bench. But the Giants knew what had happened or had seen televised video of
    it.


    Focused on Sunday’s playoff game against the Atlanta Falcons and with the
    Jets in their rearview mirrors, the Giants this week were not eager to make
    comparisons, but when asked, several said it was a situation they could not
    envision in one of their games.




    “Everyone knows their place in our huddle and everyone knows who the leader
    is,” tackle Kareem McKenzie said. “Eli talks and we listen. He’s in control, he
    has the information we need to move down the field. I personally have never seen
    anything like that.”




    The backup quarterback David Carr dresses near Eli
    Manning
    in the locker room, practices daily at his side and is connected to
    every Manning deliberation during games, via the sideline communication system.
    “I could not conceive of chaos breaking out in Eli’s huddle,” Carr said after
    Giants practice Thursday. “It’s not in the makeup of the team or the leaders we
    pick. In our locker room, we value people who don’t call attention to
    themselves. So people find leadership in Eli’s understated manner. It’s real and
    earned.”




    Mathias Kiwanuka, the sixth-year linebacker, in fact insisted that unity was
    a franchise core value purposefully developed.




    “When things are going bad — and we’ve had plenty of those moments — we have
    had no bickering this year,” Kiwanuka said. “People might express some things,
    but it’s face to face and meant to help the entire team. It’s a code of behavior
    passed down from ownership to the coach to the team captains and then to the
    rest of us.”




    Captains?




    In a week when Jets Coach Rex
    Ryan
    announced he would not have captains next season — regretful after
    anointing Holmes a captain this year — the Giants were heartily rallying behind
    the importance of team captains.




    “You can’t have a football team at any level without captains,” the defensive
    tackle Dave Tollefson said. “In the ultimate team game, where one player often
    has to sacrifice his body for a teammate’s gain, you need leaders who show the
    way. They don’t talk about it, they do it.”




    By paper ballot, the three Giants captains are voted on at the end of
    training camp in August. “That’s important, too,” Tollefson said. “The players
    write down names and the cream rises to the top.”




    This season and last, Manning is the offensive captain, Justin
    Tuck
    is the defensive captain and the long snapper and two-time Pro Bowler
    Zak DeOssie is the special-teams captain. “It’s not a role anyone takes
    lightly,” DeOssie said. “The captains get together periodically to compare notes
    to be sure we’re on the same page about what we might be doing. With another
    five or six players, as a leadership council, we meet with Coach Coughlin.”




    DeOssie described other duties: getting the rookies together at training camp
    for extra film preparation and counseling players after bad and good games.




    “People think being a captain is yelling at halftime,” he said. “And there is
    a time for that. But it’s not as important as little steps behind the scenes —
    patting somebody on the back for a good block not many people saw or getting on
    somebody for not paying attention.”




    Manning, who takes credit for something about as often as he dyes his hair
    pink and orange, meekly acknowledged that it was his responsibility to do things
    like organize the unofficial workouts at Hoboken High School in New Jersey
    during the N.F.L. lockout. Other Giants on the offensive unit said Manning
    deserves some of the acclaim for the breakout performance of Victor Cruz this
    season.




    “Eli threw a lot of balls to Victor outside of regular practice,” running
    back Brandon Jacobs said. “And when he wasn’t passing to him, he was talking in
    his ear. Eli is more persistent than people think.” Read more...


    http://www.nytimes.com/pages/sports/football/index.html

    GIANTS 101

    DOES RESILIENCY DEFINE THESE NEW YORK GIANTS?

    "Making a comeback as of late has been the ever-famous Super Bowl XLII intro
    from the New York
    Giants that placed many (former) players in studio preaching about resiliency.
    Not one Big Blue die-hard fan can watch that clip and claim to be
    emotionless.








    The few Giants left from that 2007 run are said to be drawing from those
    emotions and experiences and schooling the young’uns on how to approach their
    “playoffs” (that started in Week 16).




    Here’s where the questions coming from the fans that never stop thinking
    B-L-U-E:




    How did this current roster of rookies, walking-wounded and frustrated
    playmakers honestly look at their serious adversity, use it to make an attitude
    change and put “All In” to turn the 2011 Regular Season into a 2012 Post-Season
    run?




    What “saved” this team from the second-half collapse that so many (including
    some Giants fans) predicted?




    One answer (and an easy one) is head coach Tom
    Coughlin
    . That’s a knee-jerk response here, but without a doubt he is a huge
    catalyst. The Giants keep most team information “in-house”, but who’s to say
    that in team meetings, the Team First; Team Always; Team Forever mantra wasn’t
    reiterated as a segue into Giants Pride/”All In”? Remember, Coughlin is from the
    Bill
    Parcells
    coaching tree (he was wideouts coach in ’88-’90) and an admitted
    student of the game. He knows what works and has adapted his “old coach” ways to
    reach most players in a positive, structured way.




    “All In” seems to include his coaches under him too. Pay attention, because
    Perry
    Fewell
    and Kevin
    Gilbride
    have enrolled in Big Blue 101 with Professor Coughlin. You saw it
    in Weeks 16 and 17. Admit it already. The trickle-down theory is working since
    the players have read the syllabus and bought the (play)books for class…




    What else made the game day portion of this great franchise roll out the
    dusty looking glass, polish it off and each take a turn gazing into it? There
    had to be an epiphany at some point—more than likely post-Week 15: the
    Washington/$@!# the bed game.




    As many were well ahead of their deadline in writing the Giants’ epitaph, the
    team was doing self-evaluation/introspection and realizing that despite
    injuries, NFL analyst
    opinions, meaningless power-rankings and sheer negativity, the current 2011
    roster had more than enough talent on it to make a legit run.




    Giving up should never be an option for those privileged enough to wear NY
    Giants Blue. Coming together and becoming a team again before the world and
    winning because of it is a major confidence-booster. This team again believes in
    itself—in each other. Oh yeah…and the health factor is swinging back in their
    favor. Underestimating a Giant is done out of ignorance, fear or both…but go
    ahead. Adversity leads to Resiliency in these parts. Sound familiar?"

    GIANTS VS. FALCONS: NFL PLAYOFFS WILD CARD PREVIEW

    Excerpt: "After 17 weeks of ups, downs, big plays, big games, impressive performances
    and not so impressive performances, the New York
    Giants
    are where they want to be. They won the NFC East and will host a
    playoff game at MetLife Stadium tomorrow afternoon. The Giants are once again
    peaking going into the postseason, playing arguably the most complete defense
    we've seen from the team in the final two weeks of the season, and the offense
    starting to get some big runs out of the ground game to go along with the
    success of Eli
    Manning
    and this explosive passing attack.



    New York
    Giants
    wide receiver Victor Cruz (80) goes past his team bench as he makes a
    74-yard touchdown run against the Dallas Cowboys during their NFL football
    game in East Rutherford, New Jersey January 1, 2012. REUTERS/Mike Segar (UNITED
    STATES - Tags: SPORT FOOTBALL)
    New York
    and the Atlanta
    Falcons kick it off at 1:00 PM eastern tomorrow, with a shot at either the
    Packers or 49ersin the divisional round, in the battle of the last eight teams
    left standing in the 2011 season.


    GAMEPLAN




    Be aggressive in attacking the Falcons running game on the early
    downs




    One thing that can almost guarantee a Giants loss in this football
    game is playing the way they did against the run in October and November. The
    Giants know this is true for two reasons, the first being the fact that
    everything the Falcons like to do offensively starts with getting Michael Turner
    going. That takes all the aggressiveness out of the safeties in the secondary,
    and forces them to hesitate to drop back in coverage off the snap and opens up
    some big plays through the play-fake.




    The second thing a breakout game from the Falcons running game will do is
    neutralize this Giants pass rush – which is something the Giants desperately
    need to have success on defense with the inconsistent play of its secondary. If
    the Falcons are consistently getting into 3rd and 3 type situations rather than
    3rd and 7's, it's going to make this game a far, far tougher one to win because
    of the aggressiveness it takes away from the Giants defensive line.




    Look to take away TE Tony Gonzalez on third down and in the red
    zone




    Matt Ryan
    is going to be feeling some pressure going into this game as a young quarterback
    looking to establish himself as a winning quarterback. Outside of getting after
    the quarterback and the hostility of the crowd at MetLife stadium, the best way
    to take that pressure on Matt Ryan
    to the next level and force him into mistakes – is to take away the target that
    makes him comfortable in those critical third down, red zone type
    situations.




    That target is the big, sure handed veteran tight end over the middle in Tony
    Gonzalez. The Giants have to knock Ryan out of his comfort zone and force him to
    look elsewhere to make a play on third down than the easy throw to the big
    safety blanket over the middle.




    Show a commitment to the running game offensively early in the
    game




    It's very clear what the Falcons will be talking about doing defensively
    coming into this game. Their top three priorities will be containing Victor
    Cruz, containing Hakeem
    Nicks
    , and getting pressure on Eli
    Manning
    – in some order. The Giants should have opportunities to run the football
    well to start this game, and will need their offensive line group at their best
    against the Falcons top ten ranked rush defense.




    If the Giants can get Ahmad Bradshaw and Brandon Jacobs going, it will start
    to take away the Falcons intense focus on the Giants passing attack, and create
    those critical opportunities for Cruz and Nicks to do what they do on the
    outside.




    THE GIANTS WILL WIN THIS GAME IF…




    They can keep the Falcons running game contained and are efficient on third
    down offensively. If New York keeps putting their defense right back out there
    against this big, physical Falcons offense it's going to take away a lot of
    their ability to be explosive and on the attack defensively. And we talked about
    just what could unfold should the Giants be unable to keep the Falcons run game
    under control.




    BIG GAME CANDIDATE – WR Hakeem
    Nicks




    The Falcons are going to come into this game looking at what Victor Cruz has
    been doing after the catch down the stretch and will look to really do
    everything they can to keep him from beating them the way he beat the Jets and
    Cowboys.




    What is overlooked is the Pro-Bowl caliber player on the opposite side and
    arguably the best receiver on this Giants team in Hakeem
    Nicks
    . Nicks has been bothered by a hamstring injury all season, but is one
    of the tougher players in football, and has still commanded double teams throughout
    the year allowing Cruz to be freed up and do what he does on the other
    side.




    The roles could be reversed this weekend with the Falcons likely to roll a
    lot of coverages to Cruz's side and have #80 as the number one thing on all
    eleven defenders minds going in. That could really open things up for Nicks, who
    is going to be a handful for whoever draws him in coverage. I expect a big game
    here.




    PREDICTION




    This is a scary game for the Giants. It's going to test all the things the
    Giants really struggled with at various points throughout the season – stopping
    the run, stopping big play receivers on the outside, running the football.




    With that said, I see a different Giants football team the last two weeks of the season. I have
    seen fire, intensity, and a ton of confidence. Stiff arms, hurdles, spin moves
    across the defensive line, well-timed pass deflections in coverage – these
    seemingly very little things all point to a team in a rhythm, a team playing
    with confidence and a team very comfortable with what they are doing.




    If this Giants defensive line continues to play the way it has the past two
    games, I think Eli
    Manning
    and the offense will certainly be capable of taking care of the
    rest.




    Giants 27, Falcons 21"

    GIANTS' FANS WITNESSING HISTORY

    "As unpredictable as this entire 2011 NFL regular Season has been, from start to finish,
    there’s so much more to it upon closer look.


    Entering 2011 with fear of an NFL Lockout-turned reality, the draft was the only real
    highlight to the off-season drama. Majority of the spring and mainly the summer
    was spent in a paranoid stupor of “what am I gonna do without my Giants football?!”
    Longest football
    off-season with nothing to focus on but doom for many. It was almost laughable
    at times, because once the Collective Bargaining Agreement was finalized and
    signed, the celebration was but brief. Football hunger set in as gridiron bellies were beyond
    famished.




    It was as if the history of the New York Football Giants was all but forgotten, because as certain
    teams (ahem, division rivals) signed almost every well-known fantasy football
    name available, the Giants conducted business as usual. No multi-million dollar
    player signings. No block-buster trades for their top pass-rushing Defensive
    End. No “Wow! Look what the Giants just did!” new for the media to report.




    Typical cut-the-injured/injury-prone player, draft for the future, evaluate
    what the team does have type of Giants free-agency approach. It’s how the
    franchise has always done it in an effort to build stability and depth for the
    long run.




    The NFL Lockout
    frustration and ire from the fans spilled over and onto Giants GM Jerry
    Reese
    and a good portion of the fanbase, well, lost it—temporarily,
    thankfully. Hey now.




    Fast-forward to present day and week so as to give way to be able to utilize
    the new year trend of looking back, reflecting and realizing. Realize what, as a
    die-hard and ever-critical New York Giants fan, you have just become a part of:
    History ladies and gentlemen. Not only have you watched a Giants team this
    season that some claimed “had no identity” or was “schizophrenic”, but you
    witnessed many records being made and broken..




    You’re still witnessing a young quarterback (poor Eli) come into the ELIte
    leader that Ernie
    Accorsi
    dreamed he’d be. Pishaw all you want. This is all being recorded and
    will end up in the Legacy Room at MetLife (see: Giants) Stadium one day.




    In case you feel uninformed Giants record-wise for 2011:




    Eli
    Manning
    :


      [*]Most consecutive passes completed (Giants record)[*]Most completions in a season (Giants record)[*]Most passing yards (Giants record)[*]Most consecutive starts by an active QB (NFL record)[*]Most game-winning drives in 4th Qtr/OT (Giants record)[*]Longest TD pass at 99 yds. (Tied NFL record/set Giants record)[*]15 4th Quarter TD (NFL record)[/list]

      Victor
      Cruz
      :


        [*]Most receiving yards in a season w/ 1,539 (Giants record)[*]Longest TD reception at 99 yds. (Tied NFL record)[/list]

        New York
        Giants


          [*]Most playoff appearances now with 31[/list]

          Upon closer review, your Giants pride should be oozing blue. This isn’t
          happening league-wide. There’s only a handful of organizations that can claim
          these records in one season, less than that have the 86-year-long history the New York Football
          Giants do.




          Wake up. Bear witness with mind and eyes wide open. You’ll appreciate that
          you did one day."

          FALCONS AT GIANTS, WHO WILL BE THE X FACTORS?

          "You've heard the talk all week: Eli Manning, Matt Ryan, the New York
          Giants pass rush, the Atlanta
          Falcons
          run game, the weather conditions, dome team, cold weather team, it
          has all been discussed. Beyond the headlines and spotlight however, there are
          going to be players at the center of the big matchups in this football
          game.


          Tonight, Giants 101 takes a look at the players that will be critical to the
          outcome of this football game beyond the obvious buzz surrounding the Eli
          Manning vs Matt Ryan showdown at the quarterback position.




          GIANTS OFFENSIVE X-FACTOR: WR Victor
          Cruz




          And really, who else? With the outstanding big play ability Cruz has shown
          throughout the 2011 season, he's sure to be at the top of the list of priorities
          for this Falcons defense, and getting the football in his hands and allowing him an opportunity to
          make plays will be at the top of the list of priorities for the New York
          offense. Something has got to give.




          If the Falcons look to use bracket coverage and shift a lot of attention to
          his side defensively, look for Cruz to create plenty of opportunities for Hakeem
          Nicks on the other side, who while dealing with a hamstring injury, is still a
          clear pro-bowl caliber wide receiver in his own right. Jake Ballard is expected
          to return at tight end and could also see several one on one opportunities down
          the seam with all the attention on Cruz going into this game.




          FALCONS OFFENSIVE X-FACTOR: TE Tony
          Gonzalez




          Gonzalez may be nearing the end of his career, and may not be the same
          explosive guy he was in Kansas City – but make no mistake, this is a guy who is
          a bigtime difference maker for this Falcons offense on third down and in the red
          zone.




          Matt Ryan trusts him in big spots, and while the Giants have plenty to focus
          on on the outside with Roddy White and Julio Jones, those third down situations
          and red zone snaps are when they will have to make sure Ryan doesn't get easy
          looks for his big target over the middle and force him to look elsewhere to make
          a conversion. You take away what a quarterback is comfortable with in those
          crucial situations, and it can go a long way in taking him off of his game.




          GIANTS DEFENSIVE X-FACTOR: LB/DL Mathias
          Kiwanuka




          Jason Pierre-Paul has had an incredible rise to superstardom in just his
          second season, Justin Tuck is looking like the Justin Tuck we've seen since 2007
          in the past few games, and OsiUmenyiora is back and flashing that explosive
          first step that makes him one of the league's most disruptive pass rushers.




          But everyone seems to be overlooking #94 a bit – the guy who has really been
          a very valuable wild card in this defensive front seven for the G-Men. Atlanta
          will look to open up its downfield, playfake based passing game with Michael
          Turner – and Kiwanuka has been the best run stopper on this football
          team this season. He's been very aggressive in attacking the gaps and found his
          way into the backfield to disrupt plays and stop runners behind the line of
          scrimmage.




          With so much attention on JPP, Umenyiora, and Tuck, Kiwanuka will also get
          his opportunity to get after the quarterback with one on one matchups.




          FALCONS DEFENSIVE X-FACTOR: LB Curtis
          Lofton




          Lofton is a one man tackling show for the Falcons at the linebacker level –
          and he will need to be that this Sunday against the Giants. If the Falcons allow
          the Giants rushing attack to get going along with the big play ability of their
          weapons on the outside, the Giants could get up over 35 in this football
          game.




          Victor
          Cruz
          and Hakeem Nicks are also quite capable of yards after the catch, and
          the Falcons will want Lofton's motor running at 100% in this game to ensure
          Giants receivers aren't taking slants and quick routes underneath for big
          yardage."


          ##

          EXAMINING ONE KEY MATCHUP IN BATTLE BETWEEN GIANTS AND FALCONS

          "The Atlanta
          Falcons
          head to MetLife Stadium Sunday with a balanced attack that poses a
          threat on a number of fronts for the New York Giants.



          Atlanta
          Falcons
          quarterback Matt Ryan
          (2) passes against the New Orleans Saints in the fourth quarter during their NFL football
          game in New Orleans, Louisiana December 26, 2011. REUTERS/Sean Gardner (UNITED
          STATES - Tags: SPORT FOOTBALL)


          Over the course of the season, teams have seen their share of success against
          the New York
          Giants running the hurry-up offense and that is something the Atlanta
          Falcons
          do frequently.




          With RoddyWhite on one side, Julio Jones on the other, and Tony Gonzalez
          roaming the middle of the field, the Falcons have the ability to stick with base
          personnel and both run and pass with effectiveness.




          Seattle, New Orleans, Dallas, and others have tried the no huddle offense in
          a pinch against the Giants, but for the Falcons it is a staple.




          Matt Ryan
          would be the first to tell you.





          “It’s a good change of pace for us, it really is,” Ryan said. “And as a
          quarterback, it’s always fun to be in that situation where you’re out there
          calling plays and trying to get your team in the best possible situation. It’s
          rewarding, it’s satisfying when you put your guys in good spots and you’re
          successful.”




          The Giants and their ability to contain this aspect of theFalconsgame will
          be of colossalimportance on Sunday. Their approach comes from offensive
          coordinator Mike Mularkey who learned the no huddle offense in the 1980s from
          CincinnatiBengals head coach Sam Wyche.




          Perry
          Fewell
          is aware of the the Falcons ability to deploy this offense.





          “We know it’s an up-tempo offense,” Giants defensive coordinator Perry
          Fewell
          said. “We know it’ll be run-pass option. We just got to get our hands
          in the dirt and play as fast as we possibly can play and disrupt the timing of
          the run and the pass.”




          The Giants and their ability to contain this offense is the matchup of the
          week.




          Fewell is operating right now as comfortably as he has this season in terms
          of personnel. With Antrel Rolle taking over as the nickel cornerback, Deon Grant
          and Kenny Phillips have been able to play their deep halves where they feel most
          natural. Corey Webster and Aaron Ross have handled the top receivers on the
          opposing teams typically with help from one of the safeties.




          Expect more of this with the threat of Jones and White.




          The onus will be on the defensive line to bottle up Michael Turner and earn
          the right to rush Matt
          Ryan
          .




          The defensive line of the Giants is as healthy as it has been and if the
          Falcons so choose to drop Matt Ryan
          back 40 or more times they do run the risk of opening him up to hits by the
          Giants defensive line which could lead to big plays for the defense.




          The best way for the Giants to throw this offense off is to jump out early
          yet again this week. They were able to do it to Dallas and controlled the tempo
          of the game.




          Look for both teams to try and get a grasp on that early in Sunday's ball
          game."

          GIANTS' JASON PIERRE-PAUL NAMED TO AP ALL PRO FIRST TEAM, VICTOR CRUZ MAKES SECOND TEAM

          "New York
          Giants
          defensive end Jason
          Pierre-Paul
          in his second year in the National Football
          League, has been named to the AP All-Pro team. Pierre-Paul finished
          the season for the Giants with 86 tackles, 16.5 sacks, and two forced fumbles.
          He finished second amongst defensive ends in the voting with 34 votes.



          Dallas Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo (9) is sacked by
          New York
          Giants
          ' Jason
          Pierre-Paul
          during the first quarter of their NFL football game in East Rutherford, New Jersey, January 1,
          2012. REUTERS/Mike Segar (UNITED STATES - Tags: SPORT FOOTBALL)
          Victor Cruz, who had a sensational break out season setting the franchise record
          for single season receiving yards with 1,536, was named to the All-Pro second
          team with 15 votes, fourth among wide receivers.


          Guard Chris
          Snee
          also got two votes, finishing eighth among guards.




          This news comes on the heels of both players being named to the 2011 PFF All-Pro Second Team, which is,
          admittedly, not nearly as prestigious as the Associated Press All-Pro Team.




          Congratulation to the both of them! These honors are well deserved."



          CHANGES COULD BE ON THE HORIZON FOR NEW YORK GIANTS



          "It is a great time to be a New York
          Giants
          fan. The team will be hosting a home playoff game this coming Sunday
          and seem to be getting healthy.





          New York
          Giants
          head coach Tom
          Coughlin
          yells onto the field during the second half of their preseason game
          against the Pittsburgh Steelers in East Rutherford, New Jersey August 21, 2010.
          REUTERS/Lucas Jackson (UNITED STATES - Tags: SPORT FOOTBALL)


          Sounds like an odd moment to talk about change considering fans spend the
          better part of the season talking about that, but it it worth
          consideration.




          Recently, there have been a number of signs that point to the possibility
          that head coach Tom
          Coughlin
          is considering retirement in the very near future. One of these signs came from Antrel Rolle, who said that he would fight in
          order to allow the beloved Coughlin to go out when and how he wanted.





          "But I took time this offseason and got my mind right," Rolle continued.
          "Whatever (Coughlin) said, just try to go by and let's see how it works. And it
          worked out fine. Hopefully he can be here for my whole time here and if not, we
          will send him out with a bang."




          That was just one quote from Rolle from what turned out to be a passionate
          speech about the Giants head man.




          Sure, that wouldn't be enough to sell anyone on this theory, but what about
          the recent news that the Giants "quietly" extended Perry Fewell's con
    “Never argue with an idiot. They will only bring you down to their level and beat you with experience.” MB Rule # 1


  2. #2
    All-Pro jomo's Avatar
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    Re: NEWS, NOTES, RUMORS, AND GOSSIP: SATURDAY, JANUARY 7, 2012 - 7:43 A.M.



    Thanks RF, travel safe and be loud tomorrow. Hope to see you there! [B]




    Go Giants!!

    No one remembers who came in second.

  3. #3
    All-Pro GameTime's Avatar
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    Re: NEWS, NOTES, RUMORS, AND GOSSIP: SATURDAY, JANUARY 7, 2012 - 7:43 A.M.



    thanks Ro.




    I feel a dominating performnce by the Gmen coming up tomorrow. I am usually not one for predictions but its a gut feeling.




    Kind of like the Cowboys game but hopefully without the fumbles.......

    "Measure Twice......Cut Once"
    You couldn't be more full of **** if you were break dancing in a Port-a-Potty.......Kruunch

  4. #4
    Veteran
    Join Date
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    Re: NEWS, NOTES, RUMORS, AND GOSSIP: SATURDAY, JANUARY 7, 2012 - 7:43 A.M.

    Thanks RF! Giants are getting healthy at the right time! Actually, we might be one of the healthier teams in the league right now!

    Gotta use it to our advantage and kick some Falcon ***!!!!

  5. #5

    Re: NEWS, NOTES, RUMORS, AND GOSSIP: SATURDAY, JANUARY 7, 2012 - 7:43 A.M.

    [quote user="GameTime"]


    thanks Ro.




    I feel a dominating performnce by the Gmen coming up tomorrow. I am usually not one for predictions but its a gut feeling.




    Kind of like the Cowboys game but hopefully without the fumbles.......




    [/quote]







    thanks Roanoke! [B]




    i got that feeling! i think the d will be straight beasts tomorrow!







    Go Giants!


  6. #6
    All-Pro G-Men Surg.'s Avatar
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    Re: NEWS, NOTES, RUMORS, AND GOSSIP: SATURDAY, JANUARY 7, 2012 - 7:43 A.M.

    Thanks RF !
    " Success is never final, but failure can be " B.P.

  7. #7
    Moderator RoanokeFan's Avatar
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    Re: NEWS, NOTES, RUMORS, AND GOSSIP: SATURDAY, JANUARY 7, 2012 - 7:43 A.M.

    [quote user="jomo"]

    Thanks RF, travel safe and be loud tomorrow. Hope to see you there! [B]




    Go Giants!!

    [/quote]

    Let me know where you're parked
    “Never argue with an idiot. They will only bring you down to their level and beat you with experience.” MB Rule # 1


  8. #8
    Moderator RoanokeFan's Avatar
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    Re: NEWS, NOTES, RUMORS, AND GOSSIP: SATURDAY, JANUARY 7, 2012 - 7:43 A.M.

    [quote user="G-Men Surg."]Thanks RF ![/quote]

    [B]
    “Never argue with an idiot. They will only bring you down to their level and beat you with experience.” MB Rule # 1


  9. #9
    Moderator RoanokeFan's Avatar
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    Re: NEWS, NOTES, RUMORS, AND GOSSIP: SATURDAY, JANUARY 7, 2012 - 7:43 A.M.

    [quote user="GameTime"]

    thanks Ro.




    I feel a dominating performnce by the Gmen coming up tomorrow. I am usually not one for predictions but its a gut feeling.




    Kind of like the Cowboys game but hopefully without the fumbles.......

    [/quote]

    We'll be cautiously optimistic, Buckaroo []
    “Never argue with an idiot. They will only bring you down to their level and beat you with experience.” MB Rule # 1


  10. #10
    Moderator RoanokeFan's Avatar
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    Re: NEWS, NOTES, RUMORS, AND GOSSIP: SATURDAY, JANUARY 7, 2012 - 7:43 A.M.

    [quote user="NY_Eli"]Thanks RF! Giants are getting healthy at the right time! Actually, we might be one of the healthier teams in the league right now!

    Gotta use it to our advantage and kick some Falcon ***!!!![/quote]

    [Y] ALL IN!
    “Never argue with an idiot. They will only bring you down to their level and beat you with experience.” MB Rule # 1


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