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Fact or Fiction: What was the best Divisional Round game in Giants history? 


The best Divisional playoff game in Giants history was their victory over the Cowboys during the 2007 postseason.

John Schmeelk: Fiction- I guess this depends what the statements is asking. It was probably the most exciting and compelling game since it was competitive and came down to the final drive of the game. It was not the best victory, however, which came on Jan. 4, 1987. The Giants demolished Joe Montana, Jerry Rice, Bill Walsh and the San Francisco 49ers in a 49-3 victory that showed the Giants were the best team in football that year.

Lance Medow: Fiction- The win against the Cowboys is certainly notable, but I would select the 37-20 victory over the Packers during the 2011 postseason. Green Bay entered that game at 15-1, including 8-0 at Lambeau Field, with the second-best turnover differential in the NFL at +24. The Packers also had the second-fewest turnovers in the league at 14. Yet Green Bay turned over the ball four times against the Giants and surrendered a Hail Mary touchdown pass to Hakeem Nicks at the end of the first half. The Packers only allowed more than 30 points opponent at home twice during the regular season (Week 1 and an inconsequential Week 17). The Packers were close to a juggernaut until the Giants knocked them off.

If you could watch only one game this weekend, it would be the Buccaneers at Saints.

John Schmeelk: Fiction- It is hard to argue with Tom Brady vs. Drew Brees, but I am more excited about the Bills and Ravens. This game features two of the most dynamic young quarterbacks in Lamar Jackson and Josh Allen who go about their business in different ways. Other than the Chiefs, these are the two best AFC teams remaining and I expect a fun back-and-forth game that goes down to the wire. Either of these teams has a real chance to beat Kansas City in the AFC Championship game.

Lance Medow: Fiction- Bucs-Saints is clearly the most attractive game because of the two future Hall of Fame quarterbacks in Tom Brady and Drew Brees, but this is also the third time these teams are meeting. That's not the case for the other three games and that's why I'm going with Baltimore-Buffalo, featuring arguably the two hottest teams in the NFL. The Bills have won 10 of 11, including seven straight while the Ravens are on a six-game rise and I consider Baltimore the most dangerous team in the league. It also showcases two of the up-and-coming quarterbacks in the NFL in the Bills' Josh Allen and Lamar Jackson of the Ravens.

Explosive plays on offense was the biggest thing missing from the Giants this season.

John Schmeelk: Fact- There are two options for here: Pass protection and big plays. It is difficult to look the other way on pass protection since the Giants' offensive line had the worst pass rush win rate as a group according to ESPN analytics, and the second-worst sack and pressure rates allowed, according to Pro Football Focus. Those numbers must get better in 2021.

Explosive plays, however, can mitigate some of those problems up front since it makes it less necessary for teams to sustain long time-consuming drives. Only two teams had fewer plays of 20+ yards than the Giants (45); only one team had fewer 20+ yard completions (36). The Giants scored 16 fewer offensive touchdowns than they did in 2019, when the Giants had 18 offensive plays that went for 20+ yards and a touchdown (3 run, 15 pass). In 2020, the Giants managed only six (2 run, 4 pass). The gap is a big reason for the scoring difference between the last two seasons.

Lance Medow: Fiction- The lack of explosive plays is high on the list. The Giants had just 36 pass plays of 20+ yards which was the second-fewest in the NFL and nine runs for 20+ yards (tied for 17th NFL). They also had three runs for 40+ yards, which was tied for seventh. Although you can argue explosive plays and total points usually go hand in hand, you can also put points on the board by moving the ball methodically down the field. That's why the biggest thing missing from the Giants this season was touchdowns. After finding the end zone 44 times in 2019, that number dipped to 27, the second-fewest in the league. They could have used more explosive plays, but they also finished second-to-last in the NFL in red zone efficiency, scoring touchdowns just 46 percent of the time (19-of-41).

There will be less movement in free agency around the NFL this season due to the uncertainty with the salary cap.

John Schmeelk: Fact- Teams might not have a lot of money to spend if the salary cap drops to as low as $175 million, which could limit player movement. The other theory is players who are hitting free agency will sign lower cost, one-year contracts since they do not want to commit to long-term deals on depressed yearly rates. This might actually lead to more movement, but I lean toward there being less movement since teams and players will be attracted to what they know, especially with the specter of another virtual off-season looming.

Lance Medow: Fiction- There's uncertainty with the salary cap but the new cap will be set before the new league year begins, so every team will know what it will be working with for 2021. Even if the cap goes down, as many project, there will be plenty of free agents and suitors, as usual, and why I don't think free agency will be impacted. If anything lessens, it would be the number of players who receive the franchise tag, given that the potential reduction in cap room.

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