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Fact or Fiction: Most encouraging part of team (so far)


The crew is presented with four statements and must decide whether they are Fact or Fiction.

The Giants will win if they hold Christian McCaffrey to less than 100 yards from scrimmage, like they did with the Titans' Derrick Henry

John Schmeelk: Fiction – Much like last week, while accomplishing this feat will certainly make it more likely the Giants win the game, it doesn't give any guarantees. Christian McCaffrey can be held in check but if DJ Moore and Robbie Anderson have big days the Giants can still easily lose the game. Both of those players have big-play potential and Baker Mayfield is a gunslinger who's unafraid to get them the ball downfield.

Dan Salomone: Fiction – Here's an ironic stat: Carolina is 10-22 when McCaffrey has at least 100 yards from scrimmage. When he doesn't hit that benchmark, the team is 17-10.

Lance Medow: Fiction – Christian McCaffrey had just 57 scrimmage yards in Week 1 against Cleveland. Although the Browns won, they barely escaped – it took a 58-yard field goal with eight seconds left after they watched their early 14-point lead disappear. Holding McCaffrey to under 100 scrimmage yards can't hurt but it doesn't guarantee a victory. There are so many other factors that can make up for limited production from one player.

Matt Citak: Fact – Although the Panthers' offense consists of several talented playmakers, it's not a reach to call McCaffrey the cream of the crop. The running back garnered 57 yards on 14 touches (10 carries, four receptions) against the Browns last week, and the Panthers ended up losing at home. On a similar note, the Giants were able to limit Derrick Henry to 82 yards last week and left Nashville with the W. For the sake of this exercise, let's stick with simple math. One plus one does, in fact, equal two.

The big-play ability was the most encouraging part of the Giants' offense in Week 1

John Schmeelk: Fact – All three Giants touchdowns came on drives where they had a play of 30+ yards. The Giants had no other plays of 20+ yards in the game and failed to score on all their other drives. Coincidence? No. Big plays are vital to scoring points in the modern NFL and while it is unlikely the Giants get 60+ yard plays every week, getting chunk plays of 15+ consistently makes all the difference in having a successful offense. It also needs to be mentioned that the Giants ran the ball successfully in the red zone, which led to two touchdowns.

Dan Salomone: Fact – In today's football, offenses need the ability to strike from anywhere on the field. It was a point of emphasis with the new regime after the 2021 Giants finished second-to-last in plays of at least 10 yards. They had 177 while the league average was 216 and the playoff team average was 230.

Lance Medow: Fact – Explosive plays are extremely valuable to an offense and usually are synonymous with drives ending in a score. Although there's nothing wrong with putting together a lengthy drive and methodically moving down the field, that also opens the door for mishaps given the high volume of plays. The Giants had six runs for 10 yards or more including two for 33+ yards. On top of that, Daniel Jones connected with Sterling Shepard for a 65-yard touchdown. The most encouraging facet of those big plays was the fact that the majority of them came on the ground, an area that has troubled the team in the past.

Matt Citak: Fact – Last season, the Giants' longest play from scrimmage was 54 yards. Against the Titans in Week 1, the Giants were able to top that number not once, but twice, with Saquon Barkley's 68-yard run and Sterling Shepard's 65-yard touchdown catch. Barkley finished with four runs of 10+ yards, and Daniel Jones and Kadarius Toney each had one as well. There is no doubt that the offense looks a lot more explosive than it did last season, which is certainly very encouraging.

View rare photos of the history between the New York Giants and Carolina Panthers.

Stopping the run was the most encouraging part of the defense in Week 1

John Schmeelk: Fact – There is no fence-sitting on this one - it's an easy answer. The Giants held Derrick Henry to under four yards per carry and only allowed one run of more than 10 yards. Henry has the potential to wreck the game and the Giants defense didn't let him do it.

Dan Salomone: Fiction – The biggest facet was the fact that everyone contributed, especially at outside linebacker. Although the team missed Kayvon Thibodeaux and Azeez Ojulari, Jihad Ward was named the team's defensive player of the game. Oshane Ximines has also done nothing but work hard and earn the trust of the new regime this year. Meanwhile, Tomon Fox, an undrafted rookie, recorded the first sack of the season.

Lance Medow: Fact – Last season, the Giants finished 25th in the NFL against the run, allowing 129 yards per game. The loss of Dalvin Tomlinson in free agency and Blake Martinez to injury played a significant role. With that being said, they need to improve in that category given the youth in the secondary. Slowing down Derrick Henry and limiting him to just one big run of 18 yards was an impressive showing right out of the gate and the level of performance they'll need to duplicate moving forward.

Matt Citak: Fact – Derrick Henry is one of the best running backs in the NFL. Limiting him to just 82 yards on 21 carries (3.9 avg.) was a very impressive feat by the Giants' defense. As a team, the Titans averaged 3.6 yards per attempt. Six of the team's defensive starters registered run defense grades of 73.0 or higher from Pro Football Focus, led by outside linebackers Jihad Ward (76.9) and Oshane Ximines (76.6) who were stout in the run game. It was clear that Wink Martindale went into the game with a plan to contain Henry, and it was great to see the defense able to execute that game plan.

The biggest story line heading into Sunday is the Giants' depth at cornerback

John Schmeelk: Fact – With Aaron Robinson out this weekend after having an appendectomy, the Giants will have to figure out who will step up as a starter. Rookie third-round pick Cordale Flott was the only other cornerback outside of the top three who was kept on the 53-man roster after final cuts. The team brought in veterans Fabian Moureau, Justin Layne and Nick McCloud at the position while Zyon Gilbert was retained on the practice squad. With the Giants still dealing with injuries at edge rusher, it will be important for the defensive backfield to hold up, no matter who moves into Aaron Robinson's spot. DJ Moore and Robbie Anderson both have big-play ability and can turn this into a long day for the defense.

Dan Salomone: Fiction – While it is certainly important, Saquon Barkley is the major story line around New York and the league as a whole. He sparked the victory last week and will try to do it again at home.

Lance Medow: Fact – With Aaron Robinson out after undergoing an appendectomy, this creates yet another opportunity for someone else on the depth chart to step in. The options include rookie Cor'Dale Flott and Justin Layne and practice squad corners Zyon Gilbert and Fabian Moreau. What do all four players have in common? They played no defensive snaps in Week 1. The unknown presents questions and given Robinson played 95% of the defensive snaps in the regular season opener, meaning it is a key to be filled.

Matt Citak: Fact – Robinson played well against the Titans, as his 73.4 overall grade from PFF ranked 11th among all cornerbacks in Week 1. With the second-year corner out, the Giants will look for the next man up among a mix of veterans and rookies. The group of possible replacements consists of Cor'Dale Flott, Nick McCloud (who's on the injury report himself), Fabian Moreau or Zyon Gilbert. Regardless of who gets the nod, the starter will be faced with a challenging matchup. The Panthers' starting wide receiver duo of D.J. Moore and Robbie Anderson has big-play ability, and the entire Giants' secondary will have to keep an eye on them.

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