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Fact or Fiction: Year-over-year stat predictions


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

The Giants will have more than 41 sacks, their 2022 season total.

John Schmeelk: Fiction – My thinking on this is a bit nuanced. With Azeez Ojulari and Leonard Williams healthy and Kayvon Thibodeaux entering his second season, I believe the pass rush will be better than last season's. But a defense only partly controls the sack output. Sacks are truly controlled by the opposing quarterback and his ability to get rid of the football. The Giants play a slew of savvy veteran quarterbacks this year (Josh Allen, Aaron Rodgers, Derek Carr, Geno Smith, Jimmy Garoppolo, Colt McCoy, Matthew Stafford, Tua Tagovailoa) who know how to get rid of the ball, so I think it will be difficult to surpass last year's total.

Dan Salomone: Fact – With Schmeelk's logic, Daniel Jones simply chooses when to get taken down by a 265-pound defensive end. I think the defender has more say than that. Last year, Wink Martindale called Kayvon Thibodeaux the can opener. This year, he could become the actual can of whoop you-know-what. The secondary improvements will also help the big guys up front.

Lance Medow: Fiction – Last season was just the second time in Wink Martindale's five campaigns as a defensive coordinator in which his team surpassed 40 sacks. The other time was 2018 when his Ravens collected 43. I think the Giants will flirt with 40 and wouldn't be surprised if that's where they finish, but I'm not willing to go higher than that. Interestingly, 19 different players recorded at least one sack in 2022 but only three had four or more. Can you get at least 42 sacks by spreading the wealth? Sure, but it's a lot easier to accomplish that feat when you have a few players with a noticeable volume, and I'm not sure they'll get to that point. Keep in mind, no player has ever produced double-digit sacks in a single season in Wink's defense.

Matt Citak: Fact – The Giants' 41 sacks ranked 13th in the league last year. During the offseason, the Giants bolstered the depth on the defensive line with the additions of Rakeem Nunez-Roches and A'Shawn Robinson, which should help keep Dexter Lawrence and Leonard Williams fresh throughout the year. Combine that with the additions of Bobby Okereke and Deonte Banks, along with the healthy return of Xavier McKinney, and the defense should overall be vastly improved in 2023. With another year in Wink Martindale's system, along with a more talented cast, the Giants should top their 2022 sack total.

The Giants will have fewer rushing touchdowns but more passing touchdowns than their 2022 totals.

John Schmeelk: Fact – If you listened enough to the coaches and front office personnel this season, it was clear the big goal this offseason was to acquire more players to produce explosive plays through the air. I expect more downfield throws, which will result in far more touchdowns through the air and from outside the red zone. For that reason alone, the number of pass touchdowns will increase, causing some loss of scores in the run game.

Dan Salomone: Fiction – A rising tide lifts all boats. There's no reason why the Giants can't improve both numbers as they are not mutually exclusive. I said it at this time a year ago. For all the praise Brian Daboll receives for developing quarterbacks and passing games – rightfully so – he's still going to run the ball. Even with more receiving weapons, this offense will still be dangerous on the ground. That won't go away.

Lance Medow: Fact – Last season, the Giants recorded 21 rushing touchdowns against 17 through the air. Given the talent they added in the passing attack at both wide receiver and tight end, surpassing 17 is an extremely reasonable feat. The trickier part is on the ground.

Matt Citak: Fact – This one will essentially come down to Daniel Jones. Last year, Jones threw for 15 touchdowns but added an additional seven on the ground. This led to the Giants finishing tied for 24th with 17 total passing touchdowns, but ranking fourth in rushing touchdowns with 21. Going into his second year under Brian Daboll and Mike Kafka, Jones should easily top his passing touchdown total from last year, especially with the likes of Darren Waller, Parris Campbell, and Jalin Hyatt now in the fold, plus the returns of Darius Slayton and Isaiah Hodgins. On the other hand, with Jones likely passing the ball more in 2023, it wouldn't be a surprise to see his rushing numbers dip a little from last year's 708 yards and seven touchdowns.

Must-see photos from minicamp as spring practices come to a close at the Quest Diagnostics Training Center.

The Giants are more likely to have two players with 1,000 receiving yards than two players with double-digit sacks this season.

John Schmeelk: Fact – This was a lot of fun to think about because I do think both of these scenarios are extremely unlikely. In fact, I think it is more likely the Giants have no players with 1,000 receiving yards or double-digit sacks than two. Only four teams had multiple players with 1,000 receiving yards last year: the Dolphins, Eagles, Bengals and Seahawks. I do not expect the Giants to be as pass-heavy as those teams, and I expect the Giants to play that position by committee for much of the year. Only three teams had two players with double-digit sacks: the Patriots, Eagles, and Steelers. Wink Martindale has never had a double-digit sack player in his scheme either, but I do think the Giants are more talented up-front on defense, so I will go with sacks.

Dan Salomone: Fact – Both are tougher than people think, but the 17th game should make both outcomes more frequent around the league. With that said, the addition of a dynamic tight end Darren Waller tips the scales to the offensive side.

Lance Medow: Fact – This is an easy fact for me. As I referenced in my response to the first statement, no player has ever recorded double-digit sacks in a single season in Wink Martindale's defense. To expect two players to accomplish that in 2023 out of the blue is quite a stretch. Bold statement may not even do that justice. Even though it will be quite the challenge to get two players to finish with 1,000 receiving yards, I'd still bank on that happening instead of double-digit sacks.

Matt Citak: Fiction – Two players with 1,000 receiving yards and two players with double-digit sacks are both going to be tough goals to accomplish, but I'm giving the nod to the defensive line. If Darren Waller can stay healthy, 1,000 receiving yards is certainly on the table. But outside of Waller, there is a decent chance that the passing offense is spread out pretty evenly among the team's wide receivers. As for the defense, we all know how much Wink loves to blitz. Dexter Lawrence had 7.5 sacks last year, and that number can go even higher with the team's added depth. Azeez Ojulari finished second on the team with 5.5 sacks, despite playing just seven games. With Ojulari and Kayvon Thibodeaux healthy, the pair of edge rushers could provide a big boost to the pass rush. It wouldn't be unrealistic for one of the young edge rushers, along with Lawrence or Leonard Williams, to both reach double-digit sacks.

Twelve wins will be enough to win the NFC East.

John Schmeelk: Fact – Last year's NFC East win totals were inflated across the board because the division got to face the AFC South. The four NFC East teams managed a 14-2 record on those games. That will not happen this season against a very strong AFC East, where all four teams have legitimate playoff aspirations, and three have Super Bowl hopes. Assuming 12 will win the division is safe, that might only be good enough for a tie.

Dan Salomone: Fact – If there is one thing predictable about the NFC East, it's that the division is always unpredictable. Just when you think it's going one way, it goes the completely opposite direction throughout the grind of a season. The NFC East was the only division with two teams posting at least 12 wins last year. That will be difficult to replicate.

Lance Medow: Fact – In 2022, that wasn't the case as the Cowboys won 12 games, but the Eagles claimed the division with 14 victories. With that being said, that was an outlier. In the previous decade, 12 wins were sufficient to win the NFC East crown each year. When you take into consideration that the division overall has a tougher schedule, I'll go with the norm and say 12 should get the job done.

Matt Citak: Fiction – The NFC East is in the conversation for the toughest division in the NFL this year. The Philadelphia Eagles won 14 games in 2022, and despite losing both their offensive and defensive coordinators, most of the roster is returning this season. The Eagles are once again expected to be one of the best teams in the league, so 12-14 wins wouldn't surprise anyone. Even the Dallas Cowboys won 12 games last year, which led to them finishing second in the division and earning the top wild card spot. While 12 wins would definitely get the Giants a spot in the postseason, it likely would not result in the franchise's first division title since 2011.



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