Earlier this season on an interview with the NFL Network, Atlanta Falcons’ WR Roddy White said he believed the Falcons had the best wide receiver tandem with himself and WR Julio Jones. He also went on to say “the big boys play on the outside,” a shot that was taken straight to New York Giants’ WR Victor Cruz.
Cruz is paired with WR Hakeem Nicks to form a formidable tandem of their own, so the debate about which tandem is better will be heard this week. So who is the best receiver tandem in the NFL? Does it belong to the Falcons or the Giants? Could it belong to another team?
It’s kind of hard to argue this season that the Giants’ tandem has been better than the Falcons’ tandem. Nicks has been battling nagging injuries all year, limiting his effective play. Cruz has followed up his breakout season with another nice season, shutting down thoughts he might be a one-year wonder.
How about those boys in Atlanta? Last season, White caught 100 passes, ranking second in receptions in the league. Jones, in his rookie season last year, caught 54 passes, which is solid for a rookie. This year, that gap has closed up. White currently has 77 receptions, while Jones has 63.
Cruz and Nicks were arguably the best tandem last season, as Cruz led the Giants with 82 receptions, while Nicks was right behind him with 76 catches. Cruz didn’t even have a catch in the first two games of the season, so the catches and yards he totaled were rather impressive.
Cruz has not dropped off in his production this season. Cruz currently has 76 catches, so he’s on pace to catch more than the 82 he caught last season. Meanwhile, Nicks only has 50 catches as he battled the injuries. It is definitely much easier to say the Falcons have had the better tandem this year.
However, if Nicks weren’t hurt, would the Giants have the better tandem? I still believe the Falcons have the better tandem, as White and Jones can break out at any instance. You really can’t double-team either one because the other can burn you.
The Giants have a solid tandem, but their production is more of the work of QB Eli Manning. Manning reads defenses so well, he distributes the ball around, making everyone on the field an impact player. Manning has developed a rapport with Cruz and Nicks, and he’s even developed one with WR Domenik Hixon as well. TE Martellus Bennett is also benefiting from having Manning as his quarterback.
Both offenses will not be out on the field trying to prove who has the better receiving tandem. The Falcons aren’t really playing for much, but they would still like to lock up that #1 seed in the NFC. The Giants have a lot to play for, as they have the Washington Redskins and the Dallas Cowboys breathing down their necks. We’ll see who plays better.