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Fact or Fiction: Best season for Giants' defender

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Giants.com writers debate who is having the best season for a Giants defender since 2011 in Fact or Fiction:

1. Landon Collins is having the best season for a Giants defender since JPP in 2011.


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JOHN SCHMEELK: Fact - You can make an argument for Stevie Brown when he had eight interceptions back in 2012, or for Johnathan Hankins when he had seven sacks and dominated against the run in 2014, but I don't think either guy holds a candle to what Landon Collins is doing this season. He leads the team in sacks, interceptions and tackles. Even though he still has some minor deficiencies in space, he is vastly improved in coverage and is a menace in the middle of the field closer to the line of scrimmage. In nickel defense you can drop him near the line of scrimmage and it's like having another linebacker on the field. He's covered tight ends well. He is becoming one of the better safeties in the NFL and he should only improve going forward.

DAN SALOMONE: Fact - Entering Week 11, he is the only player in the NFL with at least four interceptions and three sacks. He is the first safety with those numbers in his team's first nine games since Green Bay's LeRoy Butler in 1996. He is the first Giants player with four interceptions in a three-game span since cornerback Phillippi Sparks in 1997. Should I go on? OK. He also became the first safety to win player of the week awards in consecutive games since Pittsburgh's Troy Polamalu in 2010 when he went on to be named Associated Press Defensive Player of the Year.

LANCE MEDOW: Fiction - In 2011, Jason Pierre-Paul collected a career-high 16.5 sacks as well as two forced fumbles and seven passes defensed. Those numbers were quite impressive considering it was just his second year in the league but don't overlook the stats safety Stevie Brown posted in 2012. That season, he finished second in the NFL with eight interceptions (the most by a Giant in a single-season since Willie Williams had ten and Spider Lockhart eight in 1968) and tallied 307 return yards off those interceptions (a Giants franchise record and the fourth highest single-season total in NFL history). Brown also collected two forced fumbles, recovered two fumbles and 11 passes defensed and was named NFC Defensive Player of the Week twice. At this rate, Landon Collins may match those numbers and then some.

2. The Giants will break 100 yards rushing for the second week in a row.

JOHN SCHMEELK: Fiction - The results last week against the Bengals were encouraging, but I think the Giants will be hard-pressed to continue that success against a very tough Bears front this week. The injuries on the offensive line are crippling with Justin Pugh expected to miss another game and backup guards Adam Gettis and Brett Jones banged up. Marshall Newhouse might have to once again rotate between being the extra blocking tight end and the full time left guard. What might work in the Giants favor is getting an early lead, which would allow them to commit to the run. I would expect between 80 and 90 rushing yards, unless the team managed to rush it thirty times.

DAN SALOMONE: Fiction - The way the Giants closed out the Cincinnati game is encouraging, but this is one of those times where you have to say fiction until proven otherwise. The Giants have not rushed for 100 yards in consecutive games in the same season since Weeks 13 and 14 of 2014.

LANCE MEDOW: Fiction - The Giants have yet to surpass 100 yards rushing in consecutive games this season. They accomplished that feat twice in the first three games (113 in Week 1 at Dallas, 120 in Week 3 vs Redskins) and then last week broke the century mark for the first time in six games. Based on those numbers, collecting over 100 yards rushing has been a rare feat and, it's important to note, the Bears rank 11th in the NFL against the run. They're surrendering 98 yards per contest and the run defense has progressively improved since the beginning of the season. Chicago allowed each of its first three opponents to collect at least 100 yards rushing but just one opponent has surpassed the century mark in the last six contests.

3. Olivier Vernon will have a sack in his third-straight game.

JOHN SCHMEELK: Fact -The Bears' offensive line has struggled from time to time this year (both are not graded well by Pro Football Focus), and Jay Cutler is known for trying to hold onto the ball in an effort to make plays down the field. Vernon is getting after the quarterback better than he has all year long, maybe because the injury to his hand/wrist might be starting to improve a little bit. He has been stout against the run all year, but I would expect him to get the quarterback to the ground for the third straight game.

DAN SALOMONE: Fact - For the NBA Jam fans out there, he's heating up. With one more, he's on fire. Vernon doesn't like talking about his wrist injury, but the results show he's getting healthy at the right time. The free-agent acquisition had the second of back-to-back sacks to get the Bengals off the field late on Monday night and help seal the victory. Vernon was one of the best defenders in the league in the second half of last season, and he could do the same down the stretch this year.

LANCE MEDOW: Fiction - Olivier Vernon has recorded at least one sack in three-straight games three times in his career so it's a feat he's accomplished before but the Bears have surrendered just 18 sacks in nine games. That's tied for the ninth fewest in the NFL. Chicago's offensive line has allowed just three sacks in the last four games combined and that's come during a span in which that group was tested against some of the best pass rushes in the league including Green Bay and Minnesota in back to back weeks. The Bears are dealing with some injuries on the line (right guard Kyle Long was placed on IR this week and right tackle Bobby Massie suffered a concussion in Sunday's loss to Tampa Bay) but the group overall has been solid in pass protection.

4. The NFC East is the best division this year from top to bottom.

JOHN SCHMEELK: Fact - The AFC West is right there in the running but the maddeningly inconsistent play from the San Diego Chargers puts them a notch below the NFC East. Every team in the division is over .500 and are still in the mix for a playoff spot. Only one of the four teams (The Giants at minus-two) have a negative point differential this season (Note: The AFC West has all four teams with a positive point differential). The Cowboys have the best record in football, and both the Redskins and Giants would be in the playoffs if the season started today. So far this season, the NFC East is 9-1-1 against the AFC North, showing dominance over a division with some quality teams like the Steelers, Bengals, and Ravens. All three teams in the NFC East have three games left to play in the division, so there is still plenty to be decided before the season is over.

DAN SALOMONE: Fiction - I'll still go with the AFC West for now just because it boasts the reigning Super Bowl champion. That's a pretty good tiebreaker. Everyone may be over .500 in the NFC East, but the AFC West is the only division with all four teams boasting a positive score differential. Only one other division has three: the NFC East. It's not a stretch to say these two divisions could produce the Super Bowl LI participants in Houston.

LANCE MEDOW: Fact - Entering Week 11, the NFC East is the only division in the NFL with all four teams showcasing winning records. The only other division that can give the NFC East some competition is the AFC West which has three winning teams (Chiefs, Raiders, Broncos) but I think the Eagles are a more balanced team than the Chargers if you were to compare the two squads, who are in last place in each division. The NFC East is also the most competitive division in the league with the four teams separated by just three games and you can easily make a case for all four to clinch a postseason berth. Plus, the NFC East is 9-1-1 against the AFC North this season.

A look at the expected starters for the Giants' Week 11 opponent

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