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Fact or Fiction: Keys to success; Week 12 predictions


Turnover differential has been the biggest key to the Giants' past two wins.

John Schmeelk: Fact - In all three of their wins this year, the Giants have either won (the two wins against Washington) or been tied (their win against Philadelphia) in the turnover battle. They only beat Washington by three points in Week 9 despite having a plus-5 turnover differential. If the Giants do not take away the ball in the fourth quarter of that game, Washington probably walks away with a win. Historically, nothing impacts winning and losing more than winning the turnover battle. The Giants are not an explosive offensive team, so making up for losing the turnover battle can be very difficult. Before all else, they have to avoid beating themselves.

Lance Medow: Fact - In the Giants' first eight games, they had a turnover differential of minus-5. Thanks to the last two games combined, they're now even. If that doesn't tell most of the story, then I don't know what does. Turnover differential is by far the biggest indicator of a win or a loss and the fact the Giants have had no turnovers in each of the last two games has been huge. In the first eight games, drives stalled, scoring opportunities disappeared and momentum completely changed as a result of ball security issues. By eliminating those mishaps, the Giants were able to maximize what I like to call at-bats. Although they had no takeaways against the Eagles, they had five in their second matchup against Washington and two of them stalled each of Alex Smith's final two drives - it can't be overlooked considering the Giants only won by three points.

Cincinnati will play multiple quarterbacks on Sunday.

John Schmeelk: Fiction - The Bengals wouldn't elevate Brandon Allen from the practice squad to start for them unless they believed he gave them the best chance to win. He played for the Rams when Zac Taylor was their quarterbacks coach, so there isn't much mystery there. He also has three games of experience with the 2019 Broncos. Allen has a better arm than Finley and is not afraid to push the ball down the field on a regular basis, even into tight coverage. The coaching staff probably believes his willingness and ability to get the ball downfield to their elite group of wide receivers gives them the best chance to win.

Lance Medow: Fiction - How many teams can you point to over the course of NFL history that have had success rotating quarterbacks? You won't find much substance there, which is why I think the Bengals will lean on either Brandon Allen or Ryan Finley. If one of those two players contributed in other areas because of their athleticism, like the Saints' Taysom Hill, I could see Zac Taylor trying to put both on the field. It's not the case with Allen or Finley. Rotating personnel at other positions is common practice but mixing and matching quarterbacks is not a winning recipe. They'll stick to one player under center.

Wayne Gallman will extend his touchdown streak against the Bengals.

John Schmeelk: Fact - The Bengals struggle defending the red zone this season, allowing opponents to score on more than 70% of their trips inside the 20. The Giants, meanwhile, have scored touchdowns on nine of their last 11 red zone tries and have rushed for at least 100 yards in five straight games. That makes it very likely Gallman extends his scoring streak.

Lance Medow: Fact - We weren't sure of Devonta Freeman's status until he was placed on injured reserve, so that created more of a question mark with respect to the running back situation. Since then, Gallman and Alfred Morris have shared the workload, and there's a much better read on how they are being used. The Giants have leaned heavily on Gallman in the red zone and that's helped the team finish. You need to be able to run the ball in tight areas when it's much more difficult to space everyone out. I don't see that changing this week.

The Giants' secondary is the most improved unit on the team.

John Schmeelk: Fact - The conversation here begins and ends with the number of big plays the Giants have allowed this year through the air. This year, the Giants have only allowed 27 passes of 20+ yards per game, which is the sixth-fewest in the NFL. Last season, they allowed 67 passes of 20+ yards, which was the sixth-most in the NFL. They are not even halfway to last year's total with only six games remaining. The additions of Logan Ryan and James Bradberry have made all the difference, along with a very disciplined zone scheme that does not allow passes to get completed over the top.

Lance Medow: Fiction - James Bradberry, Logan Ryan and Jabrill Peppers have been consistent weapons in the improved secondary for the bulk of the season, but I don't think the secondary's strides are as big as the offensive line. Considering the Giants have been relying on a lot of inexperience up front, it's hard to overlook the progress that unit has made over the last few weeks. New York has run for over 100 yards in each of the last five games and collected four rushing touchdowns over the last two. Daniel Jones is also coming off one of his most efficient performances of the season against the Eagles when he completed 21 of 28 passes for 244 yards. The Giants went up against two strong defensive fronts in each of the last two games and you never got the sense that one player or one group was disruptive enough to completely change the game. The stability of an offense starts in the trenches.

View photos of Super Bowl XXI MVP and Ring of Honor inductee Phil Simms through the years.

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