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Ask the Expert: NFL Media's Judy Battista

Reggie Roberts:  After an 0-2 start, Giants head coach Tom Coughlin seemingly has his team heading in the right direction with two straight wins and 10 days to prepare for the Falcons.  What did Coughlin do to get his team rolling?

Judy Battista: I'm not so sure it's anything Coughlin did. I think it was much more that the offense got settled in, especially an offensive line that saw a few injury-induced changes late in camp. Everybody knew the offense was a work in progress throughout the summer — and it was ugly at that point — and Eli even warned at one point that it would be a work in progress all season. So I think this is part of the expected — or maybe hoped for — evolution of the offense. Obviously that would get a big boost if rookie receiver Odell Beckham Jr. makes his debut Sunday, too.

RR: Giants RB Rashad Jennings is off to a great start. How has new Giants offensive coordinator Ben McAdoo been able to incorporate Jennings into his multi-faceted offense so quickly?

JB: Having a vital running game has always been important to the Giants. Last year was a bit of a disaster and they haven't had a reliable back since Ahmad Bradshaw, but when you talk to members of the Giants' brain trust, they'll always tell you that a running attack is critical for them because of the often-lousy weather conditions they'll deal with late in the season. Jennings is the physical presence they have needed and you could see against the Texans how much establishing him early helped open up the field for Eli Manning and the short passing game they are using. Jennings was so good and so much used in that game that it was clear the Giants tried to give him a bit of a break on the short week against Washington. Andre Williams ran very well in his place and that spurred some Giants fans to start worrying that the days of leaning on Jennings were already over. No chance. He will be their workhorse and as the weather turns up here in the next few months they'll need him more than ever.

**RR: Defensively, are the Giants as good as they've always been and can they slow down Matt Ryan and the high-octane Falcons offense that's averaging 444.4 yards per game which ties for first in the NFL?


JB: I'm not sure we're yet at the point where we can compare this defense to the one that had Strahan, Tuck, Osi, etc. But they are getting excellent work from cornerback Prince Amukamara, who has an interception in each of his last two games, and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, and they are getting some pressure from the defensive line, although there could certainly be more. Jason Pierre Paul has 1.5 sacks already after having just two in all of last season, but Mathias Kiwanuka has been relatively quiet. Robert Ayers, though, has played well in his limited use and you have to wonder if we'll start seeing more of him in the rotation. A very big stat: the defense has forced nine takeaways in the last two games. They have allowed 400 yards of offense in only one of their last eight home games.

RR:  The newspapers were demanding change after the Giants began the season 0-2. What's happened over the past two weeks that's resulted in two impressive wins by the G-men?

JB: Honestly, I think it was just the offense getting settled in. And I think we saw the first glimmers of that in the loss to Arizona in week 2. There has been steady improvement from the summer, when it looked like nobody had any idea where they were supposed to be, where they were supposed to throw, what was going on at all. But as the offensive line has jelled after some late-summer injury-induced switches, you've seen the rest of the offense come along, too. They are by no means where they want to be, but without making any dramatic personnel changes, they look a lot better than they did just three weeks ago. RR: And finally, who do you like Sunday and give us a final score prediction? JB: I like the Giants. But I doubt there will be a Washington-like blowout against Matt Ryan. So I'll say 24-21.

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