The Giants will be doing everything they can to shut down Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan on Sunday.
But Ryan does have a few friends on Big Blue.
Linebacker Mathias Kiwanuka, guard Chris Snee, cornerback Will Blackmon and linebacker Mark Herzlich all were teammates of Ryan's at Boston College.
"I played with all those guys at BC and know all of those guys really well," said Ryan in a conference call with Giants reporters on Wednesday. "I have a lot of respect for those guys and they have done a great job. It will be fun to play against them and see them. I am happy for their success."
Blackmon actually played wide receiver as a senior in 2005 and was one of Ryan's favorite targets. "I was his guy," said Blackmon on Wednesday. "It was he and I the whole time. We swapped jerseys and he wrote on it, 'To Will, my first playmaker.'"
Snee's final year at Boston College as Ryan's first. "I hung out with him a little bit and we have spoken over the years," said Snee. "We were at the Pro Bowl together last year. Good guy.
"You could hear the coaches his freshman year saying he could be something special in the way he tore apart our defense. And how vocal he was -- he was barking at guys and that is very rare as a freshman."
Now in his fourth NFL season, Ryan threw for a career-high 4,177 yards and 29 touchdowns in 2011, with just 12 interceptions. But he is still looking for his first playoff win, after losing to the Cardinals his rookie year and the Packers last season, when the Falcons were the top seed in the NFC.
"All the stuff that happened in the past doesn’t really make a difference," Ryan said Wednesday. "It comes down to preparing this week and doing whatever we can to keep advancing throughout the playoffs."
Herzlich said he sees a difference, and a similarity, between Ryan and Giants quarterback Eli Manning.
"Eli seems very quiet and reserved a little bit -- Matt not so much," said Herzlich. "He is very vocal, not only on the field but off the field. He will joke around and play pranks on people. But they both win and that is something they have in common."
We'll see which QB comes out on top on Sunday.