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Fact or Fiction: Predictions for home stretch


Philadelphia is the biggest threat to the Giants getting into the postseason.

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JOHN SCHMEELK: Fiction -The Giants have one threat in their quest to get into the postseason, and that's themselves. With identical records, the Eagles and Redskins are both threats to take the NFC East from the Giants. With Tony Romo back, the Cowboys are still a threat, too, even if a more far-fetched one. But what those teams do is almost irrelevant. The Giants control their own destiny. If they figure out a way to play like they did against New England every week the rest of the year, I'm fairly confident they will do enough to win the NFC East and make the playoffs. It really is that simple.

DAN SALOMONE: Fact -The NFC East always seems to come down to Week 17, and sure enough, the Giants and Eagles meet in the finale at MetLife Stadium. Four of the Giants' five losses have been decided by four points or less, including two by a single point. The only one that wasn't? A 27-7 loss to Philadelphia.

LANCE MEDOW: Fact -The Eagles still have another game against the Giants, so that fact alone makes them a threat and when you look at Philadelphia's upcoming schedule, entering Week 11, it only plays three teams above .500 out of its seven remaining games. In comparison, the Giants have the toughest remaining schedule in the NFL. Sam Bradford's health, moving forward, will likely be a big factor, but given the Eagles have had the Giants number in recent years and the division could come down to the last game of the season, I have to go with Philly. I'd put the Redskins at a very close second only because they still have four remaining games in the division (one with the Giants, one with the Eagles, two with the Cowboys). If they get hot at the right time and win the majority of those division games, that would give them an edge in the tiebreaker department. I think the Eagles have more balance and more talent on their roster, but with the way Kirk Cousins is playing and with so many division games left, you can't overlook Washington. At 2-7, the Cowboys' margin for error is essentially non-existent. Tony Romo's return makes them dangerous, but they have to go 6-1 in their final seven games just to get to 8-8 and there's no guarantee that record will win the division. The Giants will have more sacks after the bye than they had before it.

JOHN SCHMEELK: Fact -This means the Giants will have to average slightly more than two sacks per game in their final six, and finish with more than 24.

My immediate reaction here is to say "Fiction" since even a player of JPP's ability might not be able to account for this kind of improvement. Many of the teams the Giants play the rest of the way, however, are susceptible to getting sacked. The Jets and Dolphins both have banged up offensive lines. Neither Kirk Cousins, nor Sam Bradford (or Mark Sanchez) is particularly mobile. I think the Giants can get to enough of the above quarterbacks to finish with more than 12 in their final six

DAN SALOMONE: Fact -The number to beat is 12, which currently has the Giants 31st in the NFL through 10 games. But the Giants went through this last year. After a drought early in the season, they turned on the pressure down the stretch and finished fourth in the entire league. Jason Pierre-Paul will only get stronger and help in that department, which we've seen in his first two games back.

LANCE MEDOW: Fiction -Of the Giants' six remaining opponents, four of the offensive lines rank in the top half of the NFL in pass protection/sacks allowed and just two in the bottom half. The Giants collected just 12 sacks in the first 10 games. That's an average of just over one per game. They'd have to double that average to get to 13 in the final six games. Given the opponents they'll be facing, I'd be very surprised if they surpass 12 after the bye. Jason Pierre-Paul's return has bolstered the pass rush and you figure as he gets more and more comfortable and brushes off the rust, he'll become more effective, but that doesn't mean it will translate into at least two sacks a game. The Giants had a season-high three sacks against the Patriots, but New England's offensive line was pretty banged up and that won't always be the case with upcoming opponents.

Carolina will go undefeated longer than New England.

JOHN SCHMEELK: Fiction -Both those teams have two of the toughest games remaining on their schedule the week of Thanksgiving. The Patriots play in Denver on Sunday Night Football, and the Panthers play on Thanksgiving in Dallas against the Cowboys. With Tony Romo healthy, that seems like a game to me that the Panthers might have trouble winning. The same goes for New England, but with the Broncos having their quarterback issues, I give them the better chance. I'll go with the Patriots remaining undefeated longer, even with Julian Edelman's injury.

DAN SALOMONE: Fiction -I'll go with the head coach-quarterback tandem that already has a perfect regular season under its belt, not to mention four Super Bowl titles.

LANCE MEDOW: Fiction -When you look over the Patriots remaining schedule, the one game that could be their biggest challenge is Week 12 in Denver. Tom Brady doesn't have a great record in Mile High and the Broncos defense has been very stingy this season. However, with Peyton Manning banged up and a few players on defense hurting, I'm not so sure that game is as big a stumbling block as I had anticipated earlier this season. Outside of the Denver game, they play the Texans and Titans, who are a combined 6-12, the Eagles, and their three AFC East rivals who they have already outscored, 106-62, in the first three match-ups. Based on what's laid out on paper, it's a very favorable schedule for them to run the table. The Panthers still have four divisional games left, including two with the Falcons, and four of their remaining seven games are on the road.

Minnesota will be the toughest road game all year for the Giants.

JOHN SCHMEELK: Fiction -The Vikings game will most certainly have the toughest conditions of any road game, but it won't be any tougher than the opener the Giants played in Dallas. It also won't be much tougher than the game in New Orleans against the Saints or the one in Philadelphia. The Vikings were my sleeper playoff team to start the season, and they might even win the NFC North. They will be tough, but not more than the other games mentioned above.

DAN SALOMONE: Fiction -They may be the best team that the Giants face on the road all year, but I'm going with the Saints. Including the last-second loss in Week 8, the Giants have not won in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome since 1993.

LANCE MEDOW: Fact - In order for a road game to be the toughest, you have to take into consideration the caliber of the opponent and the environment. The Vikings get two check marks in that department. An outside game in Minnesota in the last week of December is never a good combination. Plus, the Vikings are 7-2, one of the best defensive teams in the league and have a very strong running game. I know for a fact John Schmeelk started shopping (both online and in person) for double-layer Long Johns months ago in anticipation of this trip, and you can't blame him considering his subpar record against Mother Nature. He's very fortunate the trip to Buffalo was in early October.

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