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Fact or Fiction: Keys & predictions for Week 16


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

Stopping the run is the top priority vs. the Eagles

John Schmeelk: Fact - The Eagles have the top rushing attack in football, averaging 165.6 yards per game. They check every box. They have a variety of running backs with different skill sets. They run different schemes that attack different parts of defenses. They have a quarterback who can run the ball and deceive with the read-option and RPO's. They have a strong and athletic offensive which is great at getting to the second level of the defense to burst long runs. They can do it all. If the Giants want to win the game, they need to control the Eagles' rushing attack.

Dan Salomone: Fiction – The Eagles ran for 208 yards in their first meeting with the Giants a month ago and managed only seven points in a loss at MetLife Stadium. The biggest difference was the turnover margin, which was 4-0 in the Giants' favor – again, this will be the deciding factor.

Lance Medow: Fact - The Eagles lead the NFL in rushing yards per game with 166 and have collected at least 175 in each of the last seven games. In Week 12 against the Giants, Philly piled up 208 yards on the ground and averaged over six yards per carry. Yet New York won because the Eagles turned it over four times, including three interceptions by Jalen Hurts - with two coming in the red zone. Philly was able to move the ball up and down the field, but it couldn't finish drives due to the turnover bug. Even though the Eagles had success on the ground, Hurts dropped back 32 times to throw. This is a game where you want Hurts and Co. to rely on the aerial attack and the way you go about accomplishing that feat is stopping the run, putting them in third-and-long and making them throw.

Matt Citak: Fact – This one isn't even close. The Eagles enter this matchup with the league's No. 1 rushing attack, averaging 165.6 yards per game. Since Week 8, Philadelphia has averaged an incredible 214.4 rushing yards per game, with at least 175+ yards in every contest, becoming the first team since the 1985 Bears to accomplish this feat. Quarterback Jalen Hurts has not only been the best rusher on the Eagles, but he's also been one of the most efficient in the entire NFL. His 5.6 yards per attempt is tied for fourth in the league, while his 28 carries of 10+ yards also ranks fourth. Stopping the run has to be priority No. 1 for the Giants on Sunday.

The Giants will force at least two turnovers in Philadelphia

John Schmeelk: Fiction - This is just trending back towards the mean. The Eagles turned it over four times the last time these two teams met, and the chances of that happening again are slim. Jalen Hurts did not throw the ball well in the first meeting between the two teams, and the Eagles went away from the run despite its effectiveness. Hurts had one of his best passing games of the year on Tuesday night against Washington. You can expect the Eagles to stick to the run more often and Hurts to do a better job protecting the ball through the air.

Dan Salomone: Fact – This has been a bright spot for the Giants in a year without many of them. The bigger question is if they can hold onto the ball on offense with either Mike Glennon (three interceptions last week) or Jake Fromm, who could make his first NFL start in just his second game, under center.

Lance Medow: Fiction - Turnovers played a significant role in the Week 12 matchup as the Eagles coughed up the ball four times. Since that game, New York has had just one takeaway in the last three contests combined. The Week 12 game was a bit of an anomaly for Philly as the Eagles are only averaging just over a turnover per contest. The Giants have been opportunistic this season but that can also come and go - you can never bank on takeaways.

Matt Citak: Fact – The Giants' defense comes in ranking 11th in the league with 20 turnovers, four of which came against the Eagles in the Week 12 matchup. In that game, the Big Blue defense forced Hurts to throw three interceptions, and running back Boston Scott coughed up a fumble. The Giants have forced at least one turnover in all but two games this season, and have five games of forcing two or more. The Eagles' offense has turned over the ball at least twice in five of their games this season, including Tuesday night's game against Washington. Hurts threw an interception in that game while also fumbling the ball twice, one of which was recovered by Washington. The Giants' defense will have similar results against Philly this week.

View rare photos of the historic rivalry between the New York Giants and Philadelphia Eagles.

Xavier McKinney is the Giants' X-factor against the Eagles

John Schmeelk: Fiction – Let's go with Lorenzo Carter. After playing his best game in a couple of seasons against the Cowboys last week, the Giants will need a repeat performance from Carter. The Eagles like to attack the edge of the defense with outside zone runs and pulling linemen on perimeter players. He is going to have to set the edge well against two very good offensive tackles in Lace Johnson and Jordan Mailata. He is also going to have to be a decision maker on Jalen Hurts read-options looks, and be able to play the running back and quarterback properly within the scheme to slow down the Philadelphia rushing attack.

Dan Salomone: Fact - Staying on the turnover theme, McKinney has emerged as a difference-maker on the defense. Keep in mind he will probably have a chip on his shoulder on Sunday after not making the Pro Bowl this week.

Lance Medow: Fiction - If stopping the run is the top priority, as discussed in response to the first statement, then the defensive line is the X-factor. That whole group will be key in slowing down the Eagles' ground attack and staying well-disciplined when Jalen Hurts decides to take off and run himself. The Giants need to win the battle in the trenches against a strong Philly offensive line.

Matt Citak: Fiction – Xavier McKinney has been a bright spot on the Giants defense this season. He leads the team with five interceptions, ranks second with nine passes defensed and third with 73 total tackles. McKinney played well against the Eagles in Week 12, registering an interception and two pass breakups to go with his eight total tackles. While McKinney plays a crucial role on the defense every week, the X-factor against the Eagles this weekend will be the entire defensive line. We already discussed just how good Philadelphia is at running the football. If the D-line can win the battles upfront against the Eagles' offensive line and generate pressure in the backfield, then Philly will have a tough time extending their streak of 175+ rushing yards to eight games. If the Giants can do that, they have a solid chance at pulling off the upset on the road.

The player you're most interested to see in the final stretch is Lorenzo Carter

John Schmeelk: Fiction – Surely, you'd love to see Kadarius Toney back on the field, but injuries and a COVID positive test have kept him away. Matt Peart protected well on the Giants' final drive against the Cowboys and a very talented DeMarcus Lawrence and he seems to be earning more snaps. Two other intriguing defenders are Elerson Smith and Aaron Robinson. The latter is still on the COVID list but once he's back, he should have a great opportunity to play nickel and outside cornerback. Smith is someone the team has been working in more for defensive snaps, and it would be good to see where he is as a pass rusher late in his rookie season.

Dan Salomone: Fiction – It will be interesting to see what linebacker Jaylon Smith can do in the final three weeks after he had four tackles (three solo) against his former Dallas team. As Joe Judge said, it was pretty remarkable to see after Smith had just "four to six hours of coaching to get him ready for the game." Judge added, "Obviously, it's very new to him in this system, but I liked the way he responded. I liked the temperament he plays with, I like the look in his eyes when you meet with him in terms of being locked in and engaged to what's going on in the meetings. He's been a pleasure to have in the program so far. We'll keep him involved as well and grow his role throughout this week."

Lance Medow: Fiction - Lorenzo Carter is coming off his best performance of the season as he filled up the stat sheet against the Cowboys with two sacks, two tackles for loss, three quarterback hits and a passed defensed. It will be interesting to see whether he can build off that performance in the final three games after a relatively quiet season but you can put Jake Fromm ahead of Carter. With Daniel Jones shut down for the season and having missed at least two games in each of his first three seasons, the Giants need to evaluate their quarterback depth chart and determine what they want to do at the backup position moving forward. Fromm was a fifth-round pick in 2020 and could very well be a player that they can continue to develop. Getting a taste of what he can do in the final three games wouldn't hurt.

Matt Citak: Fact – Following a slow start to the season, Lorenzo Carter exploded against the Cowboys in Week 15. Carter picked up his first two sacks of the season along with a forced fumble, just the second of his career, and a pass breakup. His performance earned him a spot on Pro Football Focus' Team of the Week after he registered an overall grade of 90.8, including an elite 86.1 pass rush grade. The fourth-year linebacker has four quarterback hits over the last two weeks, a great sign for a young player currently in the final year of his rookie contract. Carter has three more weeks to show that he's fully over the hump in his recovery from last year's torn Achilles and can be a force in the Giants' pass rush.

View photos from practice as the Giants prepare for their NFC East matchup against the Eagles.



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