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Fact or Fiction: Predictions for New Year's Day


The crew is presented with four statements and must decide whether they are Fact or Fiction.

Wide receiver Isaiah Hodgins will find the end zone for the fourth time in five games

John Schmeelk: Fiction – Let's just play the odds here. This could be a Darius Slayton, Daniel Bellinger or Richie James week. Or maybe Saquon Barkley or Daniel Jones run it in a couple of times? The Colts have done a very good job of preventing big plays through the air this season with Gus Bradley's Cover-3 zone, so this will be a game for rushing touchdowns, not passing touchdowns.

Dan Salomone: Fact – Get on the Hodgins bandwagon because seats are filling up fast. His knowledge of the offense from his time in Buffalo is paying dividends.

Lance Medow: Fiction – Isaiah Hodgins has clearly built some great chemistry with Daniel Jones since he joined the team in early November and Jones has leaned on him to move the chains in key spots as well as in the red zone. Those factors alone bode well for Hodgins' chances to find the end zone but don't overlook the Colts defense despite the team's record. They rank 11th in the NFL against the pass and didn't surrender a passing touchdown to Justin Herbert in Monday night's loss to the Chargers. It's also possible Hodgins could see a lot of Indy's best corner Stephon Gillmore. The latter factors have me leaning away from Hodgins getting another receiving touchdown.

Matt Citak: Fiction – Hodgins has been great over the last month and has emerged as one of Daniel Jones' most reliable targets. But all good things must come to an end at some point, and for Hodgins' touchdown streak, that end might come on Sunday. Hodgins, along with Darius Slayton, are likely to see coverage from Colts shutdown cornerback Stephon Gilmore, who lines up outside. When the Giants get into the red zone, it wouldn't be surprising to see the offense rely on Saquon Barkley and Jones' legs to punch the ball into the end zone. Chargers QB Justin Herbert did not throw a touchdown pass against the Colts last week, but RB Austin Ekeler scored twice. The Giants could follow a similar blueprint in the red zone on Sunday.

Saquon Barkley will have 100 yards rushing on Sunday

John Schmeelk: Fiction – Saquon Barkley has not run for 100 yards since Week 10 against the Houston Texans. He has only topped 80 yards twice since then, with both those games coming in the last two weeks. The Colts have a very good defensive front, and their 4.07 rush yards allowed per rush play ranks seventh in the league. Barkley is going to have one of those grind-it-out, tough-sledding games where the yards won't come easy.

Dan Salomone: Fact – Barkley has been the closer during games and now has a chance to seal the Giants' playoff berth with a big game. These have been the most important games of the careers for the vast majority of Giants players, and someone like Barkley isn't going to want to squander it.

Lance Medow: Fiction – Saquon Barkley hasn't hit the century mark on the ground since Week 10 against the Texans (152) – and that was seven weeks ago. The Colts have a solid defensive front led by DeForest Buckner, who has nine tackles for loss. Fellow defensive lineman Kwity Paye is tied for the team lead with linebacker Zaire Franklin at 10 tackles for loss. This group will be quite the challenge for Barkley and the offensive line to navigate. To make matters even more difficult, Derrick Henry is the only running back to pile up at least 100 rushing yards against the Colts this season and he accomplished that feat twice. No one else has reached that mark against Indy since Week 7. 

Matt Citak: Fact – Barkley has not run for 100 yards since Week 10, but that will change on Sunday. After a rough five-game stretch, the star running back has rushed for 84 or more yards in each of the last two games. He averaged a stellar 6.0 yards per attempt against the Vikings last week, but only garnered 14 carries due to the offense leaning on the aerial attack against Minnesota's weak pass defense. Indianapolis' defense offers the opposite approach, as the unit's strength lies in its pass defense. The Colts rank 20th in the league with 122.2 rushing yards allowed per game while the pass defense ranks 11th. The offensive game plan will likely lean more toward the run this week, giving Barkley a great opportunity to top the 100-yard mark on the ground.

View rare photos of the all-time history between the New York Giants and Indianapolis Colts.

Quarterback Daniel Jones is the most important offensive player in the win-and-in game

John Schmeelk: Fact – The quarterback is always the most important player in any game. The Colts have struggled to score points all year, and if the Giants protect the football and play sound football the Colts will likely make enough mistakes for the Giants to win the game. Daniel Jones will have the ball in his hands on every single play. He doesn't need to make a bunch of big dynamic plays or chuck the ball down the field. He just needs to make good decisions, protect the football, get the ball out quickly, and not make any big mistakes. If he does, the Giants should be able to win the game.

Dan Salomone: Fact – When the pressure rises, more and more is put on the shoulder of quarterbacks. That's what they sign up for. They get the most scrutiny but also the most praise.

Lance Medow: Fact – The offensive line is the most important facet of that side of the ball because the Colts have a very strong defensive front and have recorded 43 sacks (sixth in the NFL) but you can't single out one lineman in particular as Indy will present several tough assignments across the board. If the focus is on one player, then it usually comes back to the quarterback and this is the latest test for Daniel Jones in essentially a playoff atmosphere. His decision making and ability to navigate the Colts defense will play a major role in determining how the offense fares.

Matt Citak: Fact – When Jones is firing on all cylinders, the Giants' offense is tough to stop. The unit scored 24 points last weekend, the highest total since Week 10, as Jones led the way with 334 passing yards, his second-most of the season, and a career-high 30 completions. The Giants gained a season-high 445 total yards of offense last week, and while Jones may have a tougher time throwing the football against Indy's defense, he is still the most important player on offense. The Giants and Lions are tied with a league-low 15 turnovers, and Jones has played the biggest part in that. If he can go another game without turning over the ball while continuing his steady efficiency throwing and running the ball, the offense will be in great shape.

Linebacker Landon Collins is the X-factor for the Giants' defense

John Schmeelk: Fiction – Landon Collins only played 46% of the snaps last week, and made a few key plays that helped the Giants hold the Vikings to just 24 points until their game-winning field goal. But it will be Dexter Lawrence against center Ryan Kelly and Kayvon Thibodeaux against rookie left tackle Bernhard Raimann that will determine if the Giants win the game. The Colts have allowed the second-most sacks in the league this season (56) and if Nick Foles is pressured, odds are good he will turn over the ball a couple of times.

Dan Salomone: Fact – Don't overlook the experience that he brings to the locker room in addition to the field. Collins, a three-time Pro Bowler, is the only member of the active roster who was around for the Giants' last playoff berth. 

Lance Medow: Fiction – Landon Collins has shown some nice flashes in the last two games but Sunday's contest will come down to play in the trenches, especially since the Colts' offensive line has had plenty of issues and movable parts this season. Indy quarterbacks have been sacked 56 times (second-most in the NFL), including seven Nick Foles absorbed in Monday's loss to the Chargers. Two weeks ago, Kayvon Thibodeaux's motor was non-stop against the Commanders and his effort produced several disruptive plays. Thibodeaux can be the X-factor. If he can capitalize on some attractive matchups, that could very well influence the outcome of the game.

Matt Citak: Fiction – The X-factor for the Giants' defense this week is Kayvon Thibodeaux. The Colts are coming off a game in which they surrendered seven sacks, bringing their season total to 56. Only the Broncos (57) have given up more. We all know how much Wink Martindale loves blitzing the quarterback, and as he told the media on Thursday, "there's definitely blood in the water." The Giants are going to pressure Nick Foles throughout Sunday's contest, and Thibodeaux could be the key to the pass rush hitting home. Don't forget, we're only two weeks removed from his breakout game. As we've already seen against both Baltimore and Washington, the rookie tends to show up in the biggest moments.


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