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Fact or Fiction: Predictions for Denver


The staff debates Big Blue topics heading into Sunday's game:

Evan Engram will lead the Giants in touchdown catches for the rest of the season.

JOHN SCHMEELK: Fiction -Engram is the obvious answer here, but I'm going to go with Sterling Shepard. He seems to be progressing quickly from his rehab and I think he will be back in the lineup after the bye week. If that's the case, I think he leads the Giants in touchdown catches the rest of the year as an explosive receiver out of the slot.

DAN SALOMONE: Fact - It looks like he'll get a week or two head start on Sterling Shepard, the only one of four wide receivers whose injury wasn't season-ending last week. Engram has the ability to split out wide, but the Giants won't want to get him too far outside of his comfort zone, which is creating mismatches with linebackers and safeties. I expect his numbers to climb steadily as he gets more comfortable with the NFL game. He already leads rookie tight ends in most categories.

LANCE MEDOW: Fiction - Given the injuries to the receiving corps, I think Engram has a chance to finish in the top two on the team in receiving yards, but touchdowns may be a bit more challenging. So far, Engram's lone touchdown on the season was in Week 2 when he was wide open against the Lions after lining up in the backfield. Without Odell Beckham and Brandon Marshall on the field and given Engram's versatility, I think defenses will start to pay more attention to the rookie tight end in the red zone. And don't overlook that six different players have been on the receiving end of Eli Manning's eight touchdown passes this season. Manning likes to spread the wealth and I don't think that philosophy will change, despite injuries to several key targets. Odell Beckham has led the team in touchdowns each of the last three seasons. In 2013, the season before he arrived, it was Rueben Randle and I think the wide receiver trend will continue, this season, with Roger Lewis.

Based on this season alone, Von Miller is the best defensive player the Giants face this year.

JOHN SCHMEELK: Fiction - Von Miller might very well be the best defensive player the Giants see this year, but you can't say that based on what has happened so far. He only has four sacks, 3.5 fewer than Melvin Ingram and 4.5 fewer than Demarcus Lawrence. Pro Football Focus, for example, has Von Miller listed as the ninth-best edge defender in the league. His numbers will improve. Sacks come in bunches. He is still impossible to block one-on-one.

DAN SALOMONE: Fact - I've been a huge admirer of Oakland's Khalil Mack ever since he single-handedly kept his overmatched University of Buffalo team in the game against Ohio State in 2013. The guy went on to become the first player named first-team All-Pro at two positions in the same year. But I'll stick with Von Miller here because of two tiebreakers: 1) He plays on a better defense, and 2) Offensive coordinator Mike Sullivan this week called Miller the "the best pass rusher in the game."

LANCE MEDOW: Fiction - If the statement didn't start off with "Based on this season alone" this is an easy fact given Von Miller's decorated resume and knack for getting to the opposing quarterback. However, if you're just going by production in the first quarter of the season, then Chargers pass rusher Melvin Ingram tops the list. He already has 7.5 sacks, a forced fumble and a fumble recovery in five games and filled up the stat sheet plenty last Sunday against the Giants. Ingram is playing at an extremely high level thus far and has been one of the most disruptive players in the league along with his teammate Joey Bosa. The Giants will see plenty more talented pass rushers throughout the season, but Ingram is on pace for a career year.

A look at the playmakers of the Giants' upcoming opponent

The AFC West is the best division in the NFL

JOHN SCHMEELK: Fact - The strength at the top of the AFC West is very impressive. The Chiefs are the best team in the NFL right now. The Broncos have the best defense in the NFL right now. The Raiders have a young and explosive offense. Even the Chargers, despite their record, have a lot of very talented players on their roster. They have taken it to the NFC East so far this season, going 4-2 in inter-conference matchups.

DAN SALOMONE: Fact - When the Raiders are the third-best team, you have to say "fact." Meanwhile, the Chiefs are the only undefeated team left in the league, and the Broncos, as the Giants will find out this week, have a championship-caliber defense and a rushing attack to go with it. No one would be surprised if the AFC representative in Super Bowl LII comes from the West. Well, maybe people in New England would be.

LANCE MEDOW: Fiction - The AFC West is the best division in the AFC, but I think the NFC South is the best in the NFL. The only undefeated team (Kansas City) in the league resides in the AFC West, and the Chiefs and the Broncos, who have one of the league's best defenses, are perhaps the most balanced teams. But the Raiders and Chargers have their fair share of questions and both are dealing with some ups and downs. On the other hand, every team in the NFC South is .500 or better with the Panthers and Falcons combining for a 7-3 record and the Saints and Bucs each at 2-2. The NFC South is one of the deepest divisions in the league with every team having an answer at quarterback.

Orleans Darkwa will lead the Giants in rushing for the second week in a row

JOHN SCHMEELK: Fiction - I'm going to jump on the Wayne Gallman bandwagon this week. I think Gallman earned more trust from the coaching staff last week and will get at least half the carries. On top of that, Orleans Darkwa struggles to stay healthy when given a heavy workload. Whoever runs the ball, it will be tough sledding against the Broncos, who have the top run defense in the NFL.

DAN SALOMONE: Fact - Last week, I said it would be Gallman, and I was wrong. So what do I know? They ran the ball the best they have all season against the Chargers, but the Broncos aren't the Chargers. The Giants are going to have to fight tooth and nail for every yard on Sunday night at Mile High. With that said, I'll stick with Darkwa because they gave him the starting nod last week even with Gallman coming off a productive game.

LANCE MEDOW: Fact - Even though Orleans Darkwa was limited in the second half of last Sunday's game against the Chargers with a calf injury, he still led the team in rushing with 69 yards on eight carries. In comparison, Wayne Gallman ran the ball 11 times for 57 yards. The timeshare was just about even, and I don't think the workload will change dramatically for either player in this week's game. The Broncos boast the No. 1 rushing defense in the NFL, allowing just 51 yards per game. The Chargers' Melvin Gordon has had the most rushing yards against Denver this season and that was just 54 in Week 1. It will, very likely, be challenging for the Giants to find many holes on the ground, but I think Darkwa will slightly outgain Gallman.

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