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Fact or Fiction: Giants vs. Broncos keys & predictions

FACT-OR-FICTION-STERLING-SHEPARD

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

Containing Von Miller is the biggest key to victory for the Giants on Sunday.

John Schmeelk: Fact - Von Miller missed all of last season with a serious ankle injury. 2019 was his last full season and he only managed eight sacks. Miller is now 32 years old. All these things could point towards a significant decline for an aging player, but let's not buy it. In 2019, Miller looked like the same freak-show athlete from earlier in his career. He still finished the season with 83 pressures, which ranked eighth in the NFL.

Miller will also likely be lining up primarily over right tackle, a position the Giants could be rotating between Nate Solder and Matt Peart. He will test them on every passing down with his ability to attack and bend the edge. Bradley Chubb, who will likely be matched up with Andrew Thomas for most of the game, is a good pass rusher in his own right, but he tries to win with power and does not have the same ability to win on the corner as Miller does. He will be a challenging matchup for Thomas, but his skill set could match up better with Chubb than the Giants' right tackles against Miller.

Dan Salomone: Fact - The Giants have emphasized a fast start, and Von Miller can ruin your day in a heartbeat. Daniel Jones needs to be upright in order to utilize his new arsenal, which should be coming back to full strength sooner rather than later.

Lance Medow: Fiction - Let's not forget the guy lining up on the opposite side of Von Miller: Bradley Chubb. He can be just as disruptive as Miller and the Broncos have only had four games since with the two of those players on the field together since 2019. On top of that, they have several playmakers on the back end of the defense and could make a case for the best secondary in the NFL with corners Kyle Fuller, Ronald Darby and Patrick Surtain II and safeties Justin Simmons and Kareem Jackson. The Giants needs to contain Von Miller but there are others, including Chubb, who can have a significant impact on the outcome of the game,

The Denver Broncos boast an underrated offense.

John Schmeelk: Fact - We don't know what a Teddy Bridgewater-led Broncos offense is going to look like, but we should all assume it is going to look different than what a Drew Lock-led offense looks like. They will probably work in more plays under center and be a more methodical offense with a focus on higher-percentage passes. All Bridgewater needs to do is play quarterback like a point guard and get the ball to his very skilled playmakers. The Broncos have two skilled running backs in Melvin Gordon and Javonte Williams (who broke PFF NCAA broken tackle rates last year), a varied and explosive wide receiver group in Courtland Sutton, Jerry Jeudy, Tim Patrick and KJ Hamler, and a dynamic tight end who can stretch the field in Noah Fant. These guys can win 1-on-1s and will pressure the defense every down.

Dan Salomone: Fact - Coaches and players have talked highly about the Broncos' offense, which is under the direction of former Giants head coach Pat Shurmur. They have several players who can run by you, win jump balls, and slash you from the inside. "You wonder why we're grumpy as defensive coaches, it's because [opposing offenses are] stressing us out," Graham said. "I always say they're always trying to screw with us, which, that's a good thing."

Lance Medow: Fact - It's very easy to overlook the Broncos' offense because Teddy Bridgewater didn't necessarily light up the scoreboard with the Panthers last season but Denver's group is very underrated. Their offensive line has made significant strides, especially the emergence of left tackle Garrett Bolles, they have a 1-2 punch in the backfield with veteran Melvin Gordon and rookie Javonte Williams and Bridgewater isn't a quarterback that makes many mistakes. With four receivers in Courtland Sutton, Jerry Jeudy, KJ Hamler and Tim Patrick, who emerged last season, as well as tight end Noah Fant, Bridgewater has plenty of weapons to spread the wealth and he has familiarity with Pat Shurmur's system given they were together in Minnesota in 2016-17. Continuity shouldn't be overlooked.

View photos from Wednesday's practice as the Giants prepare for their Week 1 matchup against the Broncos.

Sterling Shepard will score the first touchdown of the Giants' season.

John Schmeelk: Fiction - Let's go with "Team Saquon" here. If the Broncos have a weakness on defense, it's their run defense. Last year, they finished in the bottom six in the NFL in most run defense metrics. They have used most of their resources on the perimeter defensively, but do not have the same star power at defensive tackle and inside linebacker. If the Giants get into the red zone, their best chance of scoring will be running the football. Or, perhaps, Saquon Barkley breaks a long run outside the red zone? The Broncos allowed the fifth-most 20+ yard runs in the NFL last year. Barkley will make his return with a bang.

Dan Salomone: Fact - Shepard put together one of – if not the – best camp of his career, which now includes the title of longest-tenured active Giant. There's no reason it can't carry over to the regular season. Meanwhile, the additions to the offense will free up more opportunities to Shepard, who is now wearing No. 3. Look out for him this year.

Lance Medow: Fiction - Since collecting eight touchdowns as a rookie in 2016, Sterling Shepard hasn't been a frequent visitor to the end zone. He has 12 in the last four seasons combined. While that may not play a significant role in him simply scoring the first touchdown of the 2021 season, consistent volume in that department would certainly increase his chances. With the likes of Kenny Golladay, Darius Slayton, Kadarius Toney, Kyle Rudolph and Saquon Barkley also vying for targets and threats to reach the pay dirt, let's lean more toward fiction. You also can't dismiss the fact that he'll have to solve a very talented and deep Broncos secondary.

James Bradberry is the key player on defense this week.

John Schmeelk: Fact - It's very difficult to pinpoint one key player on the Giants' defense given how many different weapons the Broncos have, but it is fair to focus on Bradberry because of the challenged posed by the size and length of Courtland Sutton and Tim Patrick. Both Sutton and Patrick are 6'4 and masters of the contested catch. Bradberry has a track record of success covering bigger and more physical wide receivers. If Bradberry can help slow them down, it will be a boon for the defense.

Dan Salomone: Fiction - The most important position in sports is quarterback, and Blake Martinez is the signal-caller of the defense. He is the glue between the front and back of a defense that has high expectations for 2021. They will be tested against a Shurmur offense that likes to change up looks with the quarterback under center or in shotgun. "I think he keeps you second-guessing at moments," Martinez said. "And you just have to be able to read your keys and understand what they're trying to get done whatever formation they're in." Oh, and Martinez is the only player in the league with at least 140 tackles in each of the past four seasons.

Lance Medow: Fiction - The key for the Giants' defense against the Broncos is stopping the run – this means the guys up front will be critical, specifically at nose tackle, in place of Dalvin Tomlinson, and middle linebacker Blake Martinez. Denver wants to set the tone on the ground with Melvin Gordon and Javonte Williams and put Teddy Bridgewater in favorable third downs. The way you prevent that from happening is slowing down those two running backs on first and second down and that task starts and ends with the guys in the trenches. James Bradberry is a valuable component to New York's unit but Bridgewater can easily throw the ball to the opposite side of the field and keep it away from the Giants' top corner. The run game involves several layers and multiple players.

View rare photos of the history between the New York Giants and Denver Broncos.

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Limited Tickets Available for Giants vs. Broncos

Limited tickets are available for the Giants' home opener vs. the Broncos on Sunday

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