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Fact or Fiction: Engram to break rookie record?


*The staff debates Big Blue topics heading into Sunday's game against the Chiefs: *

Sterling Shepard will have another 100-yard game on Sunday

John Schmeelk - Fact:Sterling Shepard is the Giants' best wide receiver and he had a breakout game last week that is likely a sign of things to come. He has the skills, and without Odell Beckham Jr. on the field, he is getting a lot more looks from Eli Manning. The Chiefs struggle on defense and rank 28th vs. the pass. Shepard should have at least seven or eight catches and will make enough plays down the field to get over 100 yards.

One side note about the Chiefs' defensive rankings: they have played some of the best offenses in football (Patriots, Eagles, Chargers, Redskins, Texans with DeShaun Watson, Steelers, Raiders and the Cowboys). I think their defense is probably better than their overall ranking may indicate. 

Dan Salomone - Fact: It looks like his ankle is fully healed, and better yet, he's really taking advantage of his opportunity with Odell Beckham Jr. and Brandon Marshall lost for the season. The Giants just need some more receivers to do the same. Shepard will have another big game just based on the volume of targets.

Lance Medow - Fiction: Six opposing players (the Patriots' Danny Amendola, Travis Benjamin of the Chargers, Pittsburgh's Antonio Brown, Amari Cooper and Jared Cook of the Raiders, and the Cowboys' Terrance Williams) have recorded 100-yard games in nine contests against the Chiefs this season. That includes five wide receivers but just two who you would classify as number one wideouts on their respective teams. Although Kansas City has struggled against the pass this season and is surrendering 259 yards per game (28th in the NFL), Sterling Shepard has yet to post consecutive 100-yard games in his career. You also can't overlook that the Chiefs recently activated off injured reserve one of their best slot corners in Steven Nelson, who will likely matchup with Shepard for the majority of the game. I think Shepard will have plenty of opportunities to fill up the stat sheet but fall short of the century mark.

Evan Engram will break the Giants' rookie tight end touchdown record this week.

John Schmeelk - Fact: Much like Sterling Shepard, Engram will get a ton of attention from Eli Manning (and the Chiefs' defense). With his height and ability to line up in a variety of places, Engram is hard to account for in the red zone. Most importantly, Engram should get plenty of opportunities. The Chiefs' defense is ranked 29th against the run, and the Giants should be able to run the ball and get it into the red zone. The Chiefs' red-zone defense is ranked just 25th. Put all those factors together, and odds are Engram scores a touchdown. 

Dan Salomone - Fiction: He's tied right now with Bob Tucker, who caught five in 1970. So Engram will do it at some point, but for it to be this week would mean he found the end zone in five consecutive games, which is hard for any player – let alone a tight end, let alone a rookie. But hey, his streak is the first of its kind for the franchise since Mark Bavaro in 1987. It wouldn't surprise me if I ended up wrong here. You're doing something special when you name is mentioned in same breath as Bavaro and Tucker. 

Lance Medow - Fact: Evan Engram has caught a touchdown pass in each of the last four games and continues to build chemistry with Eli Manning. Although the Chiefs have allowed just one touchdown to a tight end (the Broncos' A.J. Derby) in nine games, Engram has shown no signs of slowing down, regardless of the defense he has to solve. 

Keep an eye on these five players as the Giants get set to face the Chiefs

The Giants will have more rushing yards than the Chiefs

John Schmeelk - Fiction: Like I said in my previous answer, I believe the Giants will be able to run the ball on the Chiefs' defense. I do worry whether or not the Giants will be able to slow down the Kansas City running game. Kareem Hunt has slowed down the last couple of weeks, but he is still very talented. There's also the health of Damon Harrison to worry about. He is trying to work himself back from an ankle injury. If the Chiefs get a lead in this game, they will pound the ball and that could tilt things in their favor.

Dan Salomone - Fiction: Despite averaging under 50 yards in his last four games, rookie Kareem Hunt is still second in the NFL in rushing yards. Just think about that. Kansas City has so many weapons and different ways to utilize them that I think it will be difficult to shut down the run.

Lance Medow - Fiction: This is a matchup between two teams that have struggled to stop the run. The Giants rank 30th in the NFL, allowing 133 yards per game, while the Chiefs are 29th at 131 yards per contest. On paper, that means this is favorable for both rushing attacks. While the Giants' running game has improved over the course of the season, New York has only outrushed two of its nine opponents. In comparison, Kansas City has finished with more rushing yards than its opponent five times in nine games. Eight of the Giants' nine opponents have run for over 100 yards and now they'll have to slow down Kareem Hunt and company. Based on consistency this season, the Chiefs have a significant edge.

Slowing down Kareem Hunt is the Giants' top priority

John Schmeelk - Fiction: I am not downplaying the importance of stopping the run, which is the foundation of any good defensive performance. But in this particular game, I think it is far more important for the Giants to stop the Chiefs' big plays and that means slowing down Tyreek Hill and Travis Kelce. They get their yards in different ways, but they are equally dangerous. Both will move all over the formation and Andy Reid will scheme to get them one-on-one situations or make it difficult for defenses to focus on them. The Chiefs are no longer a short passing game offense. If the Giants want to win this game, they have to stop the Chiefs from consistently making big plays down the field.

Dan Salomone - Fact: For those reasons I just mentioned, he is priority No. 1. If you can take him out of his game, the Chiefs become a lot less multiple in what they can do. Discipline is key against this offense.

Lance Medow - Fact: This is the third straight game that the Giants will have to deal with a dual threat back who is just as dangerous as a receiver as he is a runner. In Week 9, New York struggled to slow down the Rams' Todd Gurley as he finished with 104 total yards and two touchdowns, and last week, Carlos Hyde of the Niners also racked up 104 total yards. Kareem Hunt leads the Chiefs in rushing and total touchdowns. He's also third in receptions and receiving yards. Kansas City has several explosive playmakers, but atop the list is Hunt, who impacts the game in so many ways.

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