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Fact or Fiction: Air vs. ground game on Sunday


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

Daniel Jones will have more than 217 passing yards, his current season high.

John Schmeelk: Fact – The Lions average 24.3 points per game, which ranks 9th in the NFL. They can score points, and I think the Giants will have to push a little more aggressively offensively to keep up with them this week. The Giants might be able to do that with Saquon Barkley, but I bet that Daniel Jones will have to air it out more frequently.

Dan Salomone: Fact – The Lions allow a league-high 8.1 yards per pass, and their 255.3 yards per game given up through the air are the sixth-most. Jones and Darius Slayton have rekindled their relationship on the field. More on the wide receiver later.

Lance Medow: Fiction – Daniel Jones has thrown for more than 200 yards only twice in nine games. In each of the Giants' last two contests against the Seahawks and Texans, they've faced passing defenses that ranked in the bottom half of the league, but didn't reach 200 yards. That's because this team's identity is on the ground. The opponent's ranking in a specific category makes no difference. The Giants will continue to look to pound the ball, so that limits Jones' passing totals.

Matt Citak: Fact – Jones is coming off his most efficient game of the season as he completed 76.5 percent of his passes for 197 yards and two touchdowns. His 153.3 passer rating was the highest of any quarterback this season. While he has only topped the 200-yard passing mark twice this year, Sunday's matchup against the Lions defense provides an opportunity for him to have his third. Detroit enters this matchup ranking last in both yards and points allowed, while their offense ranks top 10 in both categories. This game could end up being a shootout, where the Giants will have to rely on Jones to air it out a bit more than normal. The fourth-year quarterback has proven in the past that he is more than capable of doing this, and will show it once again on Sunday.

Saquon Barkley will have more than 30 touches on Sunday.

John Schmeelk: Fiction – I would have went with "fact" here if not for the fact that the Giants have a quick turnaround and play Thursday in Dallas. Game flow might make it very possible to get that many touches, but it might just mean another five snaps for Matt Breida. It will be enough to Barkley just under 30 touches. I think he'll get 28.

Dan Salomone: Fiction – The final tally will be right there, but I'll go with the slight under. With that said, Barkley didn't sound the least bit phased by coming off a career-high 35 carries. He said you can have 10 carries and be just as sore after game. It depends on the opponent and how the hits came.

Lance Medow: Fiction – Saquon Barkley has registered more than 30 touches just twice in nine games this season, and he's coming off a contest in which he ran the ball a career-high 35 times. When you take into consideration that workload and the fact that they have a quick turnaround with a Thanksgiving game, I'd be surprised if they look to give him that many touches. I think they'll try to mix in Matt Breida a bit more to help preserve Barkley for another game just four days away.

Matt Citak: Fact – Barkley leads the league in rushing, and with Detroit's defense struggling against both the run and pass, the 25-year-old back could have a big impact in both facets. He won't have more than 30 carries, but this could be a big game for Barkley in the passing game. Counting his receptions, reaching the 30-touch mark for the second consecutive game is likely.

View rare photos from the all-time series between the New York Giants and Detroit Lions.

Limiting the Lions' big plays is the first priority for the Giants this week.

John Schmeelk: Fact – Jared Goff has more 20-yard completions than every quarterback in the league not named Patrick Mahomes. The Lions do it by scheming up players in space to catch the ball and gain yards after the catch. They will run screens, move the pocket and use a lot of play-action to get crossing wide receivers open in the intermediate area of the field. The Lions can also run the football for some big gains. Despite a limited workload, D'Andre Swift has two that have gone for 40+ yards.

Dan Salomone: Fact -- Brian Daboll used the word "explosive" four times in his Wednesday media availability in reference to the Lions, who are one of three teams that have had three games with 35+ points in 2022 (Chiefs and Dolphins are the others). While Detroit's two losses in such games are tied for the most in a single season since at least 1940, that's where the focus begins for opposing defenses. Detroit ranks fourth with 42 plays of 20+ yards. Of those, 36 have been through the air, the third-most in the league.

Lance Medow: Fact – The Lions showcase one of the best offenses in the NFL as they rank in the top 10 in the NFL in several major categories, including sixth in big plays. Jamaal Williams and D'Andre Swift are more than capable of producing explosive runs or large chunk plays on short passes. Jared Goff does a good job spreading the wealth, so you need to account for several weapons in the passing attack. Detroit has recorded 36 pass plays of 20+ yards (fourth-highest in NFL), five different players have at least 17 receptions, and nine different players have caught a touchdown. If that doesn't demonstrate their play-making ability, then I don't know what does.

Matt Citak: Fact – The Lions rank eighth in passing yards and 10th in rushing yards per game thanks to their talented skill position players. Amon-Ra St. Brown got off to a hot start the first few weeks of the season before an ankle injury slowed him down for a while. St. Brown appears to be back on track after his 10-reception, 119-yard showing last week. Detroit also has two running backs who can do damage on opposing defenses in D'Andre Swift and Jamaal Williams. St. Brown and Swift in particular have the capability of busting loose for a big, explosive play. If the Giants can prevent them from doing that, it will go a long way in helping them pick up their eighth win of the season.

Darius Slayton will break 100 yards receiving for the first time this season.

John Schmeelk: Fiction – If Wan'Dale Robinson plays, I think it will be a game in which he can be very productive against the Lions' slot cornerback and zones in the middle of the field.

Dan Salomone: Fact – The last time he did it was Oct. 11, 2020 at Dallas. It's no secret that the Giants have wanted to pound away in the run game, but Slayton has stayed patient and made the most of his opportunities. He also showed his ability to make yards after the catch last week. Let's see him hit the century mark this week.

Lance Medow: Fiction – No Giants player has surpassed the century mark in receiving yards this season, and that's not surprising considering Daniel Jones is averaging 177 passing yards per game. Although Darius Slayton has led the team in receiving yards in four of the last five games, had 95 against the Texans and has great chemistry with Jones, I still think it will be a challenge to get to 100 because of the offensive philosophy and game flow. No matter what the Lions' stats show, the Giants won't abandon what has worked and get out of character. The run game will still dictate the tone. On top of that, the Lions have allowed at least one 100-yard receiver in just four of their nine games. The results have fluctuated.

Matt Citak: Fiction – Slayton has easily been the team's most productive receiver in recent weeks. Since Week 5, he has had at least 58 receiving yards in all but one game, and over the last three weeks he has totaled 219 yards and two touchdowns. But this feels like a game in which Daniel Jones will spread the ball around to all of his pass-catchers, including his tight ends. Slayton might come close to the 100-yard mark this week thanks to his big-play ability – and I wouldn't be surprised if he once again found the end zone – but more likely than not it will be a collective effort in the passing game where no one hits 100 yards.

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