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Fact or Fiction: Keys & predictions for Sunday

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

Kyle Rudolph will score a touchdown for the second consecutive week.

John Schmeelk: Fact - The Raiders run more "Cover 3" than any other team in the league, a scheme that is susceptible to tight ends running down the seams in between the three deep players making up the back end of the defense. Rudolph could score outside the red zone on a play like that. It is more likely that he finds paydirt in the red zone, though the Giants might be more apt to run it in given the Raiders' struggles against the run this season. The Raiders are the second-worst red zone team in the league, allowing teams to score touchdowns on 83% of their trips inside the 20.

Dan Salomone: Fact – And he will give the ball to his new baby, Crosby James, who was born this week. Rudolph's score in Kansas City might just be the nudge that gets the ball rolling for the veteran tight end.

Lance Medow: Fiction - Opposing tight ends have had success finding the end zone against the Raiders this season as four players from that position have scored touchdowns in the last four games, including two for the Chargers. With that being said, Kyle Rudolph has only scored once this season and that took him eight games. He's also only been targeted 18 times overall or just over two times per contest. Sure, Rudolph could haul in another touchdown pass, but the percentages don't bode very well for him.

Matt Citak: Fact – You have to like Rudolph's chances of finding the end zone once again this week. The Giants could be without several offensive playmakers yet again, and when faced with that situation over the last few weeks, Daniel Jones has looked in the direction of the veteran tight end when the ball is near the end zone. Rudolph will get an opportunity or two to reel in a pass for a touchdown against a defense that has already allowed four scores to the position this season. With some of the surest hands in the league, the veteran is likely to capitalize on those chances.

Derek Carr is playing the best football of every quarterback the Giants have faced this season.

John Schmeelk: Fiction - Derek Carr has been great this year, but he's not playing better football than Dak Prescott or probably Matthew Stafford at the time they faced the Giants. It's close. Carr has been nearly as good as those two quarterbacks and he could be a MVP candidate )much like Stafford and Prescott), depending on how the Raiders close the season. Carr is accurate, patient and has started making as many big plays down the field as the other top quarterbacks in the league. No team has a higher percentage of their passes go for 15+ yards than the Raiders (18.5%). The Giants have a huge challenge to slow him down this week.

Dan Salomone: Fact – Carr has completed one fewer pass of 25+ yards than Tom Brady and Kyler Murray, who lead the league in that category. He has also played in one fewer game than them as he and the Raiders come off their bye week. Considering the mid-season coaching change, Carr is putting together a special season.

Lance Medow: Fiction - Carr is completing nearly 68 percent of his passes and thrown for 12 touchdowns against five interceptions. But Dak Prescott and Matt Stafford were also playing at a very high level entering their games against the Giants and Stafford was off to the best start of his career entering Week 6. Carr is very close to the top but given how Stafford performed that week and the weapons around him, you can give a slight edge to the Rams' quarterback.

Matt Citak: Fiction – Carr is undoubtedly playing some great football at the moment, as his 324.1 passing yards per game ranks second in the league while sporting a cool touchdown-to-interception ratio (12-to-5). But the best quarterback the Giants have faced this season is easily Matthew Stafford. Stafford is right behind Carr in passing yards (third, 309.6 per game). But the Rams QB ranks second in passing touchdowns (22) to go with just four interceptions and a 68.9 completion percentage. As good as Carr has been, Stafford finds himself firmly in the MVP conversation, and for good reason.

View rare photos of the history between the Giants and Raiders ahead of their Week 9 matchup.

Pass protection is the Giants' top priority in this week's matchup.

John Schmeelk: Fact - This tells the story of the strength of the Raiders' pass rush. The Raiders blitz less than any other team in the league (10.9% of pass plays) yet have the highest pressure rate (42.5%). They only rush four players and get home with them. Yannick Ngakoue and Maxx Crosby might be the best tandem of edge rushers the Giants will face this season. Solomon Thomas has been disruptive inside. It will be important for the Giants not get behind in this game, and keep diversified on offense to slow down the pass rush.

Dan Salomone: Fact – The penalties were rightfully scrutinized coming out of Monday night's game in Kansas City, but let's not forget what really ended the game: two sacks on the final drive.

Lance Medow: Fact - The Raiders have 18 sacks in seven games (they had just 21 all of last season) and lead the NFL in quarterback hits with 61. They showcase two solid edge rushers in Yannick Ngakoue and Maxx Crosby, who rank first and second, respectively, in the league in QB hurries. Ngakoue tops the charts with 28 and Crosby (24) is right behind. Those two have consistently made their presences felt against opposing signal callers and have finished plays in disrupting style. If the Giants' offensive line doesn't contain those two, it could be a long afternoon.

Matt Citak: Fact – The Giants' offensive line held up relatively well for most of the game against the Chiefs last week, allowing just one sack until the final drive of the game. But the Raiders' pass rush is another beast. Las Vegas enters this matchup with the league's highest QB pressure percentage. Yannick Ngakoue and Maxx Crosby are elite in terms of QB hurries and the Raiders are No. 1 in hitting the passer, according to Next Gen Stats. Keep in mind, the Raiders have also already had their bye.

The Raiders are currently the best team in the AFC West.

John Schmeelk: Fact - The Chiefs are still trying to find their footing offensively and defensively. The Broncos have faded after a fast start and just traded Von Miller for draft picks. The Chargers are very talented but have lost two straight while struggling defensively. The Raiders are balanced with playmakers on both sides of the ball and as long as their offensive line can hold they should be able to win the AFC West.

Dan Salomone: Fiction – The Chargers are 2-0 in the division, including a convincing win over the Raiders. They led, 21-0, at halftime of the game and held on for a 14-point victory. Even though they have lost their past two games, the Chargers get the edge. But there are no easy outs in the division.

Lance Medow: Fact - It's hard to argue, considering Las Vegas is off to a 5-2 start and has been the most consistent and balanced team in the division. The Raiders rank ninth in the NFL in total offense and 14th in total defense. They're scoring 26 points a game and allowing 24 per contest. You'd be hard pressed to find better equilibrium across a roster in the league. The Chiefs are still extremely dangerous but right now they're not executing like the best team in the division, the Broncos have been impacted by injuries on defense, just traded away Von Miller and have had issues scoring. You can make a strong case for the Chargers, but is their defense playing at a higher level than Las Vegas?

Matt Citak: Fact – This one was tough as no team in the AFC West is truly sticking out more so than the rest. But given the fact that they're sitting atop the division at 5-2 following all of the adversity they have faced this season, give the nod to the Raiders. Derek Carr is playing some of the best football of his career, the defense is getting after the quarterback at a crazy pace, and the roster is looking a lot healthier following their Week 8 bye. You can't dismiss the Chiefs potentially bouncing back in a big way in the second half of the season, plus the Chargers, while inconsistent, have played some great footbal. But as of rht now, the Raiders look like the best team in the AFC West.


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