The whole focus heading into that game was how on earth would the Giants stop Matt Ryan and the potent Atlanta offense featuring Roddy White, Julio Jones, Michael Turner and Tony Gonzalez.
Not only was this offense held scoreless (only points were a safety), but the Giants also torched the Falcons’ defense en route to the big win.
As we all know, the Giants went on to win the Super Bowl, while the Falcons packed their bags.
But this year, Atlanta has gotten off to an 11-2 start and must be salivating for another chance at the Giants.
Sure, the Falcons have already clinched the NFC South and seem to be in a good position to have home-field advantage throughout the playoffs. But again, they were embarrassed by the Giants last January and are out to prove that they can win a big game.
The Falcons are a much-improved team since Mike Smith took over as head coach, but they’ve gained the reputation as being just strong regular season performers and chokers in the playoffs.
Of course, Sunday’s game is not a playoff game, but it will have a playoff feel. The Giants control their own destiny and need a win to stay at least one game up on the Cowboys and Redskins.
Meanwhile, the Falcons are coming off a bad loss to the lowly Carolina Panthers. No team wants to limp into the playoffs, so Atlanta will be ready to go.
But more so than trying to win a few games for the postseason, the Falcons want revenge against the Giants. It’s not like this is really a rivalry game, but when a team loses badly on the national stage of the playoffs, it’s not a short-term memory type of loss, especially for a team that has struggled in the postseason.
As far as strength of schedule, the Falcons really have cruised by this season. The toughest opponent was the Denver Broncos in Week 2, before Peyton Manning ever found his groove. Other than that, the rest of the games have been against middling competition at best, and frankly, Atlanta has not exactly blown teams out of the water.
The Falcons can really make a statement with a win over a team like the Giants. Big Blue maybe doesn’t have a shining record, but teams around the league know the Giants are still one of the best teams in the game.
Regardless of how the final two weeks play out, Atlanta would receive a jolt of confidence if they can take down the Giants. A Falcons’ win would help erase any lingering memories of the 24-2 game.
Follow Jim Mancari on Twitter @JMMancari.