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Fact or Fiction: Best division in NFL; best sports week of year?


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

The Giants and Cowboys will combine for at least 250 yards rushing.

John Schmeelk: Fact – If the Cowboys have an obvious weakness, it's their run defense. They have given up over 200 yards rushing in two of their last three games and their 4.73 yards allowed per rush is the sixth-worst mark in the league. The Giants' best chance in this game is to slow down the Cowboys' pass rush and force them to limit their movement up front by successfully running the ball on early downs. The Giants allow 5.29 yards per rush play, and Tony Pollard has emerged as a big play threat, while Ezekiel Elliott is a short yardage weapon.

Dan Salomone: Fact – They average close to 300 combined for the season, so 250 is not out of the question. The Giants are one of five teams that run more than they pass (Bears, Falcons, Titans, Eagles), and the Cowboys are not far behind at 47.5 percent.

Lance Medow: Fiction – In Week 3, both teams combined for 343 yards on the ground, and it's fair to say their run defenses have left a lot to desired as they rank right next to one another in the league (25th and 26th in the NFL). Interestingly, the Giants are coming off one of their lowest rushing totals of the season against the Lions (89 yards) while the Cowboys limited the Vikings to 73, a big product of game flow. On the flip side, both teams have been consistent in their ability to pound the ball as New York and Dallas both rank in the top eight in the league and are averaging 289 yards combined. I think it will be very close to 250, but I could see the total coming up just shy because I think the flow of the game will impact the production on the ground.

Matt Citak: Fact – It's no secret the Giants want to run the football. Even after struggling to move the ball on the ground against the Lions, the Giants still have the league's fourth-best rushing attack. In the Week 3 matchup between these two teams, the offense was able to gain 167 yards on the ground. In terms of the Cowboys, Dallas has rushed for at least 134 yards in each of their last six games. Ezekiel Elliott just returned, joining Tony Pollard in the backfield to provide Dallas with a strong one-two punch. The Giants and Cowboys could easily combine for over 300 yards rushing on Thursday.

Cowboys linebacker Micah Parsons is the Giants' primary focus this week.

John Schmeelk: Fact – Every time the Cowboys line up the first thing the Giants are going to identify is where Micah Parsons is positioned. He lines up on both edges and can also be stacked as an inside linebacker, where the Cowboys try to get him one-on-one against guards and centers. The Giants will likely give some extra help to block him on passing situations, so identifying where he is before each snap is critical.

Dan Salomone: Fact – The Cowboys have the best pass rush with a league-high four players boasting at least five sacks. Parsons has five games with two sacks in 2022; the NFL record is eight by Reggie White with the Eagles in 1987.

Lance Medow: Fact – Micah Parsons is one of the most disruptive players in the league as he leads the Cowboys with 10 sacks, 19 quarterback hits and 11 tackles for loss. Dallas is also very effective in moving him around. Even if he doesn't record a big play, his athleticism and the attention he draws, creates opportunities for his teammates. Keep in mind, the Cowboys have several pass rushers as four different players each have at least five sacks, including DeMarcus Lawrence, who had three in the first meeting, so there's a handful of playmakers the Giants need to keep close tabs on. Even though Parsons didn't post a sack in Week 3, he still had a pair of QB hits and a tackle for loss. That's the one player you don't want to allow to set the tone because he can change the game in a blink of an eye. Just ask the Vikings as he had a strip sack only three plays into the contest last week.

Matt Citak: Fiction – Micah Parsons is a special talent. The second-year linebacker is up to 10 sacks on the season, with five different games with two sacks. His 10 sacks and 19 QB hits easily lead the Cowboys, but Parsons isn't the Giants' primary focus this week. He's not even the primary focus on Dallas' defense. Back in Week 3, defensive end DeMarcus Lawrence wreaked havoc on the offensive line with three sacks. Who starts at right tackle is up in the air with Evan Neal still working his way back from a knee injury and Tyre Phillips, his replacement the last three weeks, suffering a neck injury on Sunday. Whoever starts there will see plenty of Lawrence. The Giants also have to worry about Pollard and Zeke. Parsons will certainly be a focus of the offense, but he might be focus 1B or 1C instead of 1A.

View rare photos from the historic rivalry between the New York Giants and Dallas Cowboys.

The NFC East is the best division in the NFL heading into Week 12.

John Schmeelk: Fiction – I went back and forth on this three times, but I landed on the AFC East for a couple of reasons. I think the Bills are a bit stronger than the Eagles as a Super Bowl contender, and I also think the Patriots and Jets are probably better teams than the Commanders. The Dolphins are also an intriguing team as a potential Super Bowl contender in the AFC, though Dallas' dominating win against the Vikings might put them in that category too. It's very close, but I'll tip the scales slightly to the AFC East with the NFC East nipping at their heels.

Dan Salomone: Fact – The surging Commanders put the division back on top. The four NFC East teams have been particularly dominant out of conference, holding a 9-1 record against the AFC South and 3-0 against the AFC North.

Lance Medow: Fact – The NFC and AFC East are only divisions that showcase all four teams with winning records, so it simply comes down to those two. I'd put the NFC ahead of the AFC because the Commanders are much more balanced than both the Jets and Patriots, who at times have struggled to put points on the board. With Chase Young set to return for Washington, the defense receives a late boost and quarterback Taylor Heinicke seems to be gaining more and more momentum each week. Washington is also one of the hottest teams in football having won five of its last six. The substance and depth of a division is often determined based on what's happening at the bottom of the standings and there's not much breathing room in the NFC East.

Matt Citak: Fact – Following Washington's win over Houston, the NFC East has now joined the AFC East as the only divisions in the NFL with every team over .500. This is an impressive feat considering the outlook on the division heading into the season. Between the two divisions, the NFC East gets the nod. Neither the Jets nor Patriots looked particularly good on Sunday, as the two teams combined for six offensive points. Both divisions could end up with three, maybe even all four, teams in the playoffs, but it's the Eagles, Cowboys and Bills that likely have the best chance to do damage deep into the playoffs.

This is the best sports week of the year.

John Schmeelk: Fiction – Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday, but this doesn't top other sports weeks. There are weeks with World Series games, NFL games, and the start of the NBA season. In March and April you have the Final Four, the start of the baseball season, and the NBA and NHL seasons still going on. In January there are NFL playoff games being played right around the college football playoffs. So this is up there, but not quite at the top.

Dan Salomone: Fact – Thanksgiving games plus a full Sunday slate. Rivalry week in college football. Start of college basketball. The World Cup being played in November. This week has something for everyone, especially those in Columbus, Ohio on Saturday at noon.

Lance Medow: Fiction – I'm not sure if anything tops the final week of October or first week of November given this year's calendar. You have the World Series in Major League Baseball, you're in the heart of the NFL and college football seasons and college basketball, the NBA and NHL are all starting up. You'd be hard pressed to find a time of the year when you have more overlap than that. It's clearly the most hectic sports schedule and I can attest to that based on what I have on my plate in terms of assignments.

Matt Citak: Fiction – Thanksgiving week is certainly an amazing time for sports, but I'm going to have to go with Christmas week as the best sports week of the year. Christmas falls on a Sunday this year, and so the league moved most of the Week 16 slate to Saturday. However, there are still three games scheduled for Sunday, Christmas Day, in addition to a game Monday night. Throw in a full day of great NBA matchups on the 25th, along with NHL, college basketball and even some early college football bowl games that week, and it's easy to see why Christmas week beats out Thanksgiving week.

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