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Fact or Fiction: Toughest game of the year?


*The staff debates Big Blue topics as the 2017 season gets closer: *

These opposing playmakers will appear on the Giants' schedule in 2017.

The Raiders are the Giants toughest non-division matchup on the 2017 schedule.

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JOHN SCHMEELK: Fiction -In terms of talent, the Raiders on the road is probably the toughest matchup that the Giants have outside the division this year. I'll flip this answer a little bit and go with the Kansas City Chiefs, and here's why: Andy Reid. That game comes off the bye week for the Chiefs, and Andy Reid has a career record of 16-2 in those games. Kansas City is also a very talented team with two good edge rushers. Beating Andy Reid is nearly impossible so that's why I'm going with the Chiefs.

LANCE MEDOW : Fact -Last season, the Raiders posted their first winning campaign since 2002 and if it weren't for Derek Carr's broken leg in Week 16, who knows how far Oakland could have gone in the playoffs. At 12-4, the Raiders were in the conversation about not just the best teams in the AFC but the league as a whole. This season, Oakland essentially returns intact with some additional weapons. The Raiders added veteran running back Marshawn Lynch, who with a solid offensive line, has a very strong chance to pick up where he left off with the Seahawks prior to retirement. Carr is one of the best young quarterbacks in the league and while he has three versatile wide receivers in Amari Cooper, Michael Crabtree and Seth Roberts, he also now has an experienced tight end in Jared Cook. Throw in last year's NFL Defensive Player of the Year Khalil Mack, who accounted for nearly half of the team's sacks in 2016, along with some intriguing weapons in the secondary and the Raiders are one of the most balanced teams the Giants will see in 2017. This game is also in Oakland, one of the toughest environments to play for opposing players.

PAUL DOTTINO: Fact -One would think the Raiders will be among the NFL's double-digit win teams this season, especially with the anticipated improvement of QB Derek Carr and the addition of RB Marshawn Lynch. And it's very likely they'll be grinding toward the AFC West title when they host the Giants on Dec. 3.Oakland will also have the benefit of coming off a home game against Denver - although that edge may be neutralized by the fact that the Giants are heading out following a long layoff, thanks to the Thanksgiving night game at Washington.

Wayne Gallman will play more snaps than Avery Moss

JOHN SCHMEELK: Fiction - I think it will be hard for Wayne Gallman to wrestle away snaps from Paul Perkins. He is very similar to Perkins, so I'm not sure he will be able to provide the type of change of pace the Giants might be looking at from a third running back. Gallman can run with power but he isn't 235 pounds either. Moss, on the other hand, has a better chance of moving into the defensive line rotation as someone that can come off the edge or even rush inside from the three-technique.

LANCE MEDOW : Fiction -Special teams will ultimately decide this duel. Wayne Gallman plays a position where I think Paul Perkins and Shane Vereen will receive the bulk of the workload and Avery Moss will look to carve out a role as a situational player behind starters Jason Pierre-Paul and Olivier Vernon. Barring injuries to players ahead of them on the depth chart, it's highly unlikely Gallman or Moss will start any games in 2017. That's why special teams will be the deciding factor and I'd give the early edge to Moss. As Clemson's starting running back, given his workload, Gallman wasn't asked to do much on special teams. With that being said, neither was Paul Perkins at UCLA yet the Giants developed him into one of the team's most productive special teams players.

PAUL DOTTINO: Fact -Figure the rookies' play count to be a draw on special teams while they reside on the back end of the depth chart of their respective positions. But Gallman plays running back, a position which is much more susceptible to injury than defensive end; therefore, the odds are greater that he will be called upon to take more snaps from scrimmage than Moss.

Besides Odell Beckham Jr., Janoris Jenkins is the Giants player most likely to earn 1st team All-Pro status.

JOHN SCHMEELK: Fiction - I'm going to with Damon "Snacks" Harrison. He made the team last year, and I see no reason not believe he can't be just as effective in 2017. He is the preeminent run stuffer in the NFL and I expect that to continue. Last year, Harrison had 86 tackles last year, a ridiculous number for a defensive tackle. He will once again be a cornerstone of what should be an excellent Giants defense.

LANCE MEDOW : Fiction -Last season, Odell Beckham and Janoris Jenkins were both named to the All-Pro Second Team while Landon Collins and Damon Harrison made the First Team. Although I think Jenkins has the potential to make the first team, there's a lot more competition across the league at corner than there is at safety and defensive tackle. That's why I think Collins and Snacks are once again more likely to make the First Team in 2017, especially, if they can duplicate their production from last season.

PAUL DOTTINO: Fiction -Nobody is doubting the qualify of Jenkins' play, which earned him second-team All-Pro status last season. But you can say the same about DT Damon Harrison, who was a first-team pick and would be an early favorite to repeat. You must also consider that Harrison plays at a much less glamourous position - which means he's less apt to have to beat out a healthy allotment of high-profile cornerbacks. And too many other factors are involved near the top of the interception leaderboard that could allow a "sleeper" corner to grab top honors.

The Giants will keep four tight ends on the 53 man rosters

JOHN SCHMEELK: Fact -I have no idea who they are going to be, but I believe the Giants will keep four tight ends. Rhett Ellison's versatility, specifically his ability to play fullback, will allow such a luxury. Evan Engram will be on the roster as well, since he is the team's 1st round pick and the most prolific receiver at the position. Jerell Adams has a real chance to make the team and he has looked faster as a receiver than he did as a rookie thanks to a better understanding of the offense. Will Tye is the incumbent and Matt LaCosse has shown a lot in spring workouts. I think four of these guys will be on the team this year.

LANCE MEDOW : Fact -In recent history, the Giants have fluctuated between keeping three or four tight ends each season but, this year, they have a great deal of depth at that position that warrants keeping four. New arrivals Rhett Ellison and Evan Engram are essentially locks to make the team leaving Jerell Adams, Matt LaCosse, Colin Thompson and Will Tye competing for one or two spots. There's certainly value in keeping at least two of those four players. Adams is still developing given he's entering just his second season in the league, LaCosse has a great deal of upside and is often overlooked because he's struggled to stay healthy, Tye has starting experience in the system and Thompson is a sleeper. I think they'll keep four even if they consider Ellison a fullback.

PAUL DOTTINO: Fact -We will assume the Giants remain healthy at tight end throughtout training camp and the preseason. After adding Rhett Ellison and Evan Engram there is more depth and versatility in that room than one might have thought going into the off-season. Ellison, in particular, cam handle the limited fullback duties in the playbook and Engram owns wide receiver skills. It would be much harder to keep four tight ends if the team had an established fullback.

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