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Southern Discomfort: Falcons Crush Giants 34-0

The Falcons get their revenge from the playoffs

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    NEWSLETTERS

    TK
    Getty Images
    The only consistent thing about Eli in 2012 is that he's wildly inconsistent.

    The Giants are terribly fond of playing the "Nobody Believes In Us" card, which is a problem this year because plenty of people believe in the defending Super Bowl champions. 

    So they decided to go the extra mile and make sure that no one believes in them heading into next week's game with the Ravens, getting burned by Atlanta by a 34-0 score. 

    Things started going wrong immediately. Eli Manning's first pass was intercepted by Asante Samuel, setting the Falcons up with a short field that they turned into a quick touchdown. 

    That erased some memories of last year's humiliating 24-2 playoff loss to the Giants and there would be plenty of other signs that things were playing out differently this time around. The Giants were stuffed on three fourth-down conversions and they kept making mistakes that the Falcons kept turning into points. 

    Manning got intercepted again on a nice play by safety Thomas DeCoud, Lawrence Tynes missed a 30-yard field goal (his third miss in the last three weeks) and the Falcons correctly realized that cornerback Jayron Hosley was overmatched. 

    He got toasted on a double move by Harry Douglas to set up a Matt Ryan touchdown pass to Tony Gonzalez and then ate Julio Jones' dust on a 40-yard touchdown in the third quarter that essentially put the game out of even wildly optimistic reach. No one on the defense made a play all day long, another clear sign that last year's game was no prologue for what would happen this time around. 

    One imagines that Manning's two interceptions this week will rekindle the discussion about something being wrong with him even though there are others to blame on each of the picks. David Wilson's much discussed problems with pass protection were clear as he got steamrolled on Manning's first pick and Hakeem Nicks could have fought a little harder on that second pick. 

    Both were plays that the Giants should have been able to make, however, and Manning had plenty of other horrid throws over the course of the day. It's a bit hard to know what to make of Manning right now since he can look like his older brother on one throw and Mark Sanchez on the next. 

    For all of the other very real problems with this Giants team, the fact that Manning isn't in a groove still remains the biggest issue of all. This was a team that won the Super Bowl last year because Manning erased more mistakes than he made, but this year's inconsistent version doesn't have nearly enough jam to cover up the burnt, stale toast that the Giants are making elsewhere. 

    At least Tom Coughlin's got everyone right where he wants them. Now it's up to the Giants to prove that everyone was wrong to stop believing in them again this year. 

    Josh Alper is also a writer for Pro Football Talk. You can follow him on Twitter.