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Fact or Fiction: Predictions for Sunday


1. The Giants' first priority on Sunday is to establish the run.

John Schmeelk: Fiction – It is certainly important for the Giants to run the ball well against a team that gives up 4.8 yards per rush play (28th in the NFL). If the Giants can get consistent yards on first down, they can stay out of dangerous third and long situations when Green Bay rushes the quarterback. Even with a strong running game, however, the Giants will have to protect Daniel Jones in an obvious passing situation. Getting Za'Darius Smith and Preston Smith blocked in those situations will be the team's top priority. The Packers are +8 in turnover ratio because their quarterback doesn't turn the ball over. The Giants will have to keep the Packers rushers off Jones so he can do the same.

Dan Salomone: Fact – Remember last year when the Giants went on a run after their bye week and won four of five games? Well, they averaged 157 yards on the ground in those victories. The Giants could take a page from that stretch a year ago and get back to running the ball. Of course, it's easier said than done. The Giants haven't run for more than 110 yards since Week 4, their last victory.

Lance Medow: Fiction – The Giants certainly need to get their ground game going. They have had under 100 rushing yards in four of the last seven contests. But a successful rushing attack doesn't guarantee a victory. That's why I think the first priority is to slow down Aaron Rodgers, who has 18 touchdowns and just two interceptions. The two-time MVP can hurt you in so many ways with his strong arm and his ability to extend plays. If the Giants let Rodgers get comfortable and produce explosive plays, it could be a long afternoon. They have to keep Rodgers in check.

2. Julian Love is the player you're most interested to watch this week.

Schmeelk: Fiction – I want to see Saquon Barkley have a breakout performance. He looked more spry last week coming off the bye and made defenders miss him in the open field. Against a rush defense as poor as Green Bay's, it could be a breakout performance from him. The offensive line will have to do its part to open some rushing lanes. If the weather is bad, this becomes even more important. The Giants need their best players to come up with big games if they want to beat a team like the Packers.

Salomone: Fact – After Jabrill Peppers went down with a back injury last week, the rookie saw his first significant number of snaps on defense (42 of his 45 came against the Bears). He responded and grabbed an interception. "I thought Love did a good job with his first extended action last week," coach Pat Shurmur said. "He's displayed a lot of the things that we thought he might have. We'll just try to build on that if for some reason Jabrill can't make it."

Medow: Fiction – Julian Love showed some flashes in his first extended action on defense this season against the Bears and while it's important to see whether he can build off that performance, I'm more interested to see how Corey Ballentine bounces back. Chicago clearly went after the rookie corner, but life in the NFL is all about having a short memory, whether it be positive or mixed results. With the Giants going from dealing with Mitchell Trubisky to Aaron Rodgers, that's more of a reason to see how a young corner responds.

3. Aaron Rodgers' elusiveness is more dangerous than his arm.

Schmeelk: Fiction – His escape-ability wouldn't mean anything if it wasn't for his arm. Once he creates extra time, Rodgers has the uncanny ability to make seemingly impossible throws into small areas down the field. In the end, it is his arm that kills you. He is, at least I my opinion, a more dangerous quarterback when things are happening off-schedule after initial plays break down than when he operates in the pocket with timing throws.

Salomone: Fiction – It's the complete package that makes him so dangerous, but his arm is his biggest weapon. The two-time NFL MVP has the highest passer rating (102.9) in NFL history with a minimum of 1,500 attempts. You can argue that he wouldn't have been able to throw a lot of those passes if it were not for his elusiveness, but it's not like he can't beat you from the pocket.

Medow: Fact – Aaron Rodgers can air it out with the best of them, but his ability to extend plays is what makes him dangerous and puts additional pressure on the secondary to cover longer. The Giants have had some issues this season containing quarterbacks who can leave the pocket and buy time, such as Dak Prescott, Josh Allen and Sam Darnold. On top of that, the Giants have surrendered four rushing touchdowns to opposing quarterbacks. 

4. The Packers have the best offense the Giants will face all season.

Schmeelk: FICTION SLAM – The Packers offensive numbers are deflated because of Davante Adams' absence for much of the season, but they still aren't the best offense the Giants will face this season. I think the Cowboys offense has been consistently better, but the Packers are a close second. The Buccaneers and Vikings, believe it or not, might be in that conversation, too.

Salomone: Fact – For all the things I just said about Rodgers, I'm going "fact" here. He's the best quarterback on the schedule and therefore the Packers are the toughest test. Their team rankings don't wow you, but they do have a little more balance this year. They are running the ball nearly 40 percent of the time, their highest rate since 2015. Last season, Green Bay ran the ball the fewest times in the league. 

Medow: Fiction – The Giants have already twice played the best offense are going to see this season: the Cowboys. Dallas averaged 36 points per game and 461.5 total yards. Entering Week 13, the Cowboys ranked first in the NFL in total offense, first in passing yards per game, sixth in points per contest and eighth in rushing yards per game. The Packers are solid and have one of the best quarterbacks in the league, but Dallas is a top ten unit across the board and showcases playmakers at every position on offense.

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