Rushing the passer is the Giants' No. 1 priority vs. Washington.
JOHN SCHMEELK: Fiction: Takeaways, takeaways, takeaways, takeaways. The Giants got plenty of takeaways early this year without rushing the passer particularly well, and if they can do that again this week, no one will complain. The Redskins haven't won a game this year when Kirk Cousins has thrown an interception, and they haven't lost one when he has played a clean game. Force Kirk Cousins into mistakes, and the Giants will win the game, period.
DAN SALOMONE: Fiction: It may not seem like it because of their ranking, but shutting down the Redskins' run game is the top priority. They are only 25th in the NFL, but that's because of their lopsided home and road numbers. At FedEx Field, Washington is 4-1 and averages 145.8 yards per game on the ground. On the road, the Redskins are winless while the rushing numbers fall to 44.8 yards per game. Kirk Cousins is most effective when the offense is balanced and he can get the play-action pass going.
LANCE MEDOW: Fiction:With the exception of last week's loss to the Panthers, the Redskins offensive line has been solid in protecting Kirk Cousins this season. It surrendered just 12 sacks in the first nine games before allowing a season-worst five to Carolina. Based on those numbers, pass protection hasn't dictated wins and losses for Washington, but turnovers is a different story. When Kirk Cousins has thrown at least one interception, the Redskins have lost every game (6 TDs, 10 INT in 5 losses). When he has no interceptions, they're undefeated (9 TDs, 0 INT in 4 wins). It's quite simple for the Giants: continue the trend of collecting takeaways, specifically interceptions.
The Giants will rush for at least 100 yards on Sunday.
JOHN SCHMEELK: Fact: This is the week the Giants finally break out a little bit in the run game. I think they will dedicate themselves to it, average more than four yards per carry and get over a hundred yards. The Redskins are the third-worst team in the league in terms of rush yards allowed per game, and per play. It will be harder to do with injuries to Justin Pugh and Weston Richburg, but I'll roll the dice and say the Giants do it.
DAN SALOMONE: Fact: With left guard Justin Pugh (concussion) out and center Weston Richburg (ankle) doubtful, it won't be easy. But the Redskins are allowing 136.0 rushing yards per game. The Giants' backs will be fresh coming off a bye week in which improving the run game was a major focus.
LANCE MEDOW: Fact:The Redskins rank 30thin the NFL against the run. They're allowing 136 yards per game and their last six opponents have each run for 100 or more yards. Despite some ups and downs in the Giants running game, this bodes very well for the team to reach the century mark. In the Week 3 meeting, New York had just 84 rushing yards and averaged 2.7 yards per carry but a lot has changed for both teams since that first match-up, especially personnel. Plus, the Giants have run for over 100 yards in two of their last four games.
Dwayne Harris has been the Giants' biggest x-factor this season.
JOHN SCHMEELK: Fiction: I guess this depends on what you consider an X-Factor, but there are too many players that have had a bigger impact than Harris for me to call him the X-Factor. The list starts with Eli Manning and Odell Beckham, but I would call Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie the true X-Factor. He has been by far the best player on defense, and has been the architect of many of the biggest takeaways for the Giants this year. You can tell when he is on the field, and when he is off. Luckily for the Giants, he has been mostly healthy this year.
DAN SALOMONE: Fact: He is only the fourth player in franchise history to account for a kickoff return touchdown and at least two receiving touchdowns in a season. The last to do so was Dave Meggett in 1992.
LANCE MEDOW: Fiction:Dwayne Harris is one of a few x-factors this season. His play on special teams and his emergence as the third wide receiver, in the absence of Victor Cruz, has certainly been key, but it's difficult to rank him atop the list with the way Eli Manning has played and certain defensive players. With Prince Amukamara missing a few weeks due to a pectoral injury, Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie's play has really stood out, given he has two touchdowns (1 fumble return, 1 INT return) and is tied for the team lead in interceptions (3) and fumble recoveries (2). I'd say the same thing about Jasper Brinkley, who has filled in nicely for Jon Beason. In limited action, the veteran linebacker already has a sack, two forced fumbles and a fumble recovery, and his opportunistic play was a big factor in the Giants' win over the Bucs in Week 9.
It is better to lead the NFL in most takeaways than fewest giveaways.
JOHN SCHMEELK: Fact: This might be the best Fact or Fiction question in the history of Fact or Fiction questions. It's good to see that Ohio State's loss last week hasn't broken Dan Salomone's focus. I actually had to call some of my statistical gurus over here at the Giants to see if there were any numbers leading one way or another. I will make my answer specific to the Giants since I think the correct answer for a generic team would be "maybe." For a team like the Giants with a high-powered offense, I think takeaways are more important. Some giveaways are inevitable when you try to move the ball the way the Giants do, and somewhat acceptable. Takeaways, on the other hand, get the other team off the field, and put the offense in great position to score. Fact!
DAN SALOMONE: Fiction: The consistent contenders take care of the ball. You can live with no takeaways throughout the course of a game, but you can't with turnovers. Luckily, the Giants haven't needed to decide between the two. They're excelling in both categories and were tied for first in the NFL in differential heading into Week 12.
LANCE MEDOW: Fact:The latter isn't a bad thing either, but I'd lean toward takeaways because that can create scoring opportunities and shorten the field for your offense. Through 11 weeks of the season, four of the top five teams in the NFL in takeaways are in the playoff hunt. That's no coincidence. An opportunistic defense is a huge difference maker and can help cover up other issues on a team. If you lead the NFL in fewest giveaways, that doesn't hurt but it doesn't necessarily give you an edge, unless you're scoring on just about every single possession. Takeaways create more possessions and more often than not more points.