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Fact or Fiction: Stat predictions, strength of NFC East


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

Saquon Barkley will record his seventh game of the season with 100 yards from scrimmage

John Schmeelk: Fiction – Washington has an excellent defensive front and the Giants are likely to have yet another different mix of offensive linemen on the field this week. Evan Neal's return, and Nick Gates perhaps contributing at guard could help things, but this is a big ask against a line as good as Washington's. Opposing defenses are lining up every week with three goals in mind. Every single one is stopping Saquon Barkley. The Giants are going to have to figure out something to get teams out of that mindset for Barkley to start having big games on the ground again. With Washington's attacking front, Jones could find room for some big runs if the Commanders do not account for him.

Dan Salomone: Fact – There's something about these Washington games for Barkley and other Giants throughout history. The franchise single-game records for most rushing yards (Tiki Barber, 234), receiving yards (Del Shofner, 269), and yards from scrimmage (Barkley, 279) have each been set against the NFC East rival.

Lance Medow: Fiction – In the last two games combined, Saquon Barkley has had just 87 scrimmage yards and now he's going up against one of the strongest run defenses in the league. The Commanders haven't allowed an opposing running back to reach 100 scrimmage yards since Week 5 when Derrick Henry finished with 132 total yards. Since then, they've faced David Montgomery, Aaron Jones, Jonathan Taylor, Dalvin Cook, Miles Sanders, Dameon Pierce and Cordarrelle Patterson. That group includes several versatile backs and all seven have fallen short of that mark.

Matt Citak: Fact – Barkley has topped 100 total yards just once in the last four games after reaching the century mark five times in the first seven weeks. But the star running back will hit the triple-digit milestone once again in Week 13. In five career games against Washington, Barkley is averaging 6.6 yards per carry and 4.4 receptions per game, along with 141 total yards from scrimmage. The fifth-year running back has had some of his best games of his career against Washington, and the Giants will lean on him this weekend.

Daniel Jones will rush at least 10 times

John Schmeelk: Fact – In regards to my last answer, I think this is one of the ways the Giants can get teams to take some attention off of Barkley. Jones' ability to be a counter in the designed run game can make all the difference in making opposing fronts (or at least the backside linebacker) hesitate just for a moment to make sure Barkley has the ball before flowing in his direction. I could also see Jones finding room in the scramble game this week, as Washington defenders try to get upfield, and use a lot of stunts that could open up space in their defensive line.

Dan Salomone: Fact – The Giants are 3-0 when Daniel Jones runs at least 10 times and 4-0 when Saquon Barkley has more than 20 carries.

Lance Medow: Fiction – Daniel Jones has run at least 10 times in a game on just three occasions this season, so there's not a high volume there. It happened against the Panthers, Packers and Jaguars. Keep in mind, the common element in all those contests is that the Giants played with a lead late and were within striking distance for the bulk of the second half. Game flow will influence the number of Jones runs. On top of that, Washington just faced Marcus Mariota, who also has a skill set that enables him to take off and test defenses on the ground. You could argue that may better prepare the Commanders or provide the Giants with a glimpse of where they can capitalize. I think he'll take some opportunities to run but fall short of 10. I also wouldn't overlook Mariota piled up 49 yards but only ran six times.

Matt Citak: Fact – Jones has rushed the ball 10+ times in only three games this season. However, all three of those contests resulted in wins for the Giants. The offense has somewhat gotten away from Jones running with the football in recent weeks as he is averaging just 27 rushing yards per game over the last four outings, three of which were losses. The offense is at its finest and most balanced when opposing defenses have to worry about the fourth-year quarterback carrying the ball on designed runs. Brian Daboll and Mike Kafka will call on Jones to keep the defense on its toes by using his legs more often than he has been lately.

Once again, the New York Giants are bringing back their classic blue uniforms from the '80s and '90s this Sunday as part of two Legacy Games presented by Quest.

Washington is the hottest team in the NFL right now

John Schmeelk: Fiction – The Commanders are playing well, but their wins have mostly been close and against non-playoff teams (except the Eagles). They do not hold a candle to what the Dolphins, Chiefs and 49ers are doing right now. Those teams are playing great football and are all Super Bowl contenders.

Dan Salomone: Fact – If this were college football, you would say the Commanders have the best win of the season. They handed the Eagles their only loss of the season and did so in Philadelphia. The team has clearly found a spark with Taylor Heinicke, whose impact is felt in the win-loss column and not necessarily in the box score.

Lance Medow: Fact – If we're just looking at wins, then it's hard to go against the Commanders. They've won six of their last seven and their defense hasn't surrendered more than 21 points in a game, including their lone loss to the Vikings. The Dolphins and Chiefs have won five in a row and the Bengals five of six but Washington tops all three of those teams in volume. I think those other three teams have more talent but you can't deny Washington has momentum and seems to be feeding off Taylor Heinicke's presence as the starting quarterback.

Matt Citak: Fiction – This one was awfully close, as Washington deserves a ton of credit for winning their last three games and six of their last seven. But the hottest team in the NFL right now is also possibly the best team in the league right now – the Kansas City Chiefs. Andy Reid has led his team to five consecutive victories and wins in seven of their last eight outings, with the sole loss coming at the hands of the Buffalo Bills. Patrick Mahomes has captained the Chiefs offense to No. 1 in both points and yards, with no signs of slowing down. The Commanders are in the discussion, but the Chiefs get the nod for the hottest team in the league.

The NFC East is the best defensive division top to bottom

John Schmeelk: Fiction – I want to go with "Fact" here but I still lean towards the AFC East. It is close. I consider the Bills, Dolphins and Eagles to be on the same level, with the Cowboys slightly behind those three teams. The Giants and Jets are very close and I don't think there is much different between the Commanders and Patriots. But since I think the Bills and Dolphins are both better than Dallas, the edge goes to the AFC East. If Dallas can continue to show they are in that top class and the Giants start winning again, the edge would swing back to the NFC East.

Dan Salomone: Fact – The NFC East is just the second division in which all four teams have at least seven wins through Week 12 since NFL realignment in 2002 (AFC North in 2014), and there is only one quarterback – Dak Prescott – who has made a Pro Bowl among the bunch. Of course, Jalen Hurts will likely join that list this season, but this division can and does shut teams down on defense.

Lance Medow: Fact – There's only one division in the NFL that can say it has three teams in the Top 10 in both total defense and scoring defense and that's the NFC East as the Cowboys, Eagles and Commanders all fit that bill. The AFC East also makes a strong case as the Jets, Bills and Patriots are each in the Top 10 in scoring defense but not total defense. If that's not impressive enough, Dallas also leads the NFL in sacks and boasts the best passing defense. The Eagles are right behind them in both categories. The NFC East has a lot of substance on the defensive side of the ball.

Matt Citak: Fact – The Miami Dolphins' struggles on defense at times this season prevented me from going with the AFC East on this one, so let's give it to the NFC East. It would be difficult to argue against both the Eagles and Cowboys being considered among the top defenses in the league. The Eagles rank ninth in points and second in yards allowed this season, while the Cowboys rank second and seventh, respectively. The Commanders are not far behind as they rank in the Top 10 in both categories, as well. The Giants statistically would rank as the weakest of the four defenses (14th in points, 22nd in yards). However, Wink Martindale's unit has still performed very well in situational defense, as the Giants rank seventh in third down and fifth in red zone defense. While it's certainly close between the NFC and AFC East, the NFC gets the edge.


Legacy Game Tickets

Limited tickets available for Giants vs. Commanders on Dec. 4

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