New York Giants vs. Atlanta Falcons: 10 Keys to the Game for Atlanta

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New York Giants vs. Atlanta Falcons: 10 Keys to the Game for Atlanta
Al Bello/Getty Images

Sunday will mark a payback opportunity for the Atlanta Falcons, as they get to host the New York Giants at 1 p.m. in a game that has serious implications for both teams.

Atlanta (11-2) has already clinched the NFC South title, but a win would help fend off the San Francisco 49ers' last-dash attempt to claim home-field advantage for the playoffs, as well as avenge a 27-2 playoff loss to the Giants in the Wild Card game last season.

The New York Giants (8-5) will be playing for their playoff lives, as a loss will send them into an even more clustered playoff race, as well as a divisional race for the NFC East. (The Cowboys and Redskins are both 7-6.)

New York might be the more urgent and confident team considering its last performance against the Falcons, coupled with an impressive 52-27 win over the New Orleans Saints from this past Sunday.

Atlanta is coming off a bad 30-20 loss in Charlotte, where the Carolina Panthers manhandled the Dirty Birds in the first half, holding them to just 13 plays in the first two quarters to give Atlanta that loss pundits had been waiting for all year.

If the Falcons can make a statement against the Giants, the warm feelings of being the NFC's top team should return in full form, especially considering teams like the Giants have gotten hot and taken the NFC playoffs in the past few seasons, proving that regular season games, come January, are moot. 

A Falcons loss would give Atlanta its first losing streak since last season. In front of the home crowd in a playoff atmosphere, that could be very demoralizing for the team and the fanbase. 

Here are 10 keys to what is undoubtedly Atlanta's biggest game of the 2012 season to this point.

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