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Fact or Fiction: Bobby Okereke to make first Pro Bowl?


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

Linebacker Bobby Okereke will make his first career Pro Bowl.

John Schmeelk: Fact – Okereke has certainly played like a Pro Bowl player this year, but he will have a tough path to get selected to the game. Roquan Smith and Fred Warner are rightfully shoo-ins. Other players like CJ Mosely, Bobby Wagner, and Demario Davis might also have the advantage of being such great players at the position for a long time that players and fans are more familiar with. With that said, Okereke has played as well as all three of those veterans, and should be in consideration with other players like Quincy Williams and Foye Oluokun. I think the New York fan base votes gets him over the top.

Dan Salomone: Fact – Here's the list of players in the NFL with at least nine tackles for loss and eight passes defensed heading into Week 14: Bobby Okereke.

Lance Medow: Fiction – Last season, five linebackers were selected for the NFC Pro Bowl roster.  Four on the outside (Micah Parsons – Cowboys, Za'Darius Smith/Danielle Hunter – Vikings, Haason Reddick – Eagles) and two on the inside (Fred Warner – Niners, Demario Davis – Saints).  Five of those six players are still in the conference and all strong candidates once again to receive invites.  Bobby Okereke ranks in the top 10 in the league in tackles and has made several opportunistic plays, so his resume is solid, but the Pro Bowl is a numbers game and popularity contest.  Add on how your team fares during the season and I'm not sure Okereke will surpass some of the other household names at his position. Although, given how many players tend to drop out, it's very possible Okereke will make the team as a replacement.

Matt Citak: Fact – By the time the season is over, Okereke will be considered one of the most underrated signings of last offseason across the entire NFL. He currently ranks ninth in the league with 114 total tackles, while his four forced fumbles are tied for the second-most. He has also added two interceptions, eight passes defensed and nine tackles for loss. The veteran is a top 10 linebacker according to Pro Football Focus, both overall and in coverage. Oh yeah, he's also done all of this without missing a single defensive snap all year. If he keeps it up, Okereke could go down as one of the most impactful offseason additions in franchise history.

Rookie Jalin Hyatt will have 100 receiving yards for the second consecutive game.

John Schmeelk: Fiction – Jalyn Hyatt had his best game of the season against the Patriots, logging career highs in receiving yards (109), receptions (five), and targets (six). Hyatt had receptions of 41, 29, and 22 yards in the game. His two biggest plays came on a double move and long-developing crossing route, both of which required the quarterback to have time to hold the ball. The Packers have a strong pass rush and an elite rusher in Rashan Gary, which might make utilizing some of those routes more difficult. The Packers are also good at preventing the big pass play, allowing only nine completions of 30 or more yards, which is the second-fewest in the NFL.

Dan Salomone: Fact – Well, it's not like it takes him double-digit catches to get triple-digit yards. It wouldn't be shocking for him to get it in two or three shots. It's just a matter of getting them.

Lance Medow: Fiction – On defense, the Packers' strength is the pass rush as Rashan Gary, Preston Smith, Kenny Clark and Devonte Wyatt are just a few names the Giants will have to keep in check during Monday night's game.  If that group wins the battle in the trenches, it could be challenging for Tommy DeVito to take shots down the field, and that's what Jalin Hyatt needs to get to 100 yards because he hasn't been targeted more than six times in any given game this season.  It's also possible the Packers could get their top corner Jaire Alexander back after he's missed the last four contests with a shoulder injury.  Alexander's presence would be a significant boost to a secondary that has been relying on former Giants sixth-round pick Corey Ballentine and rookie Carrington Valentine as their two outside corners.  Despite some of the injuries on the back end Green Bay has had to deal with, only two opposing receivers have posted 100 yards this season: the Saints' Chris Olave in Week 3 and Keenan Allen of the Chargers in Week 11.  That's it.  Those trends aren't in favor of Hyatt.

Matt Citak: Fiction – Hyatt is coming off the best game of his young NFL career, one that saw him total 109 yards on five receptions, including three that went for 20+ yards, and led to him being voted the Rookie of the Week. However, the Packers have a top 10 pass defense, which could cause some trouble for the Giants' passing attack. Green Bay's two-time All-Pro cornerback Jaire Alexander was also a limited participant in practice all of last week before being ruled out before kickoff, which indicates he could be close to a return. While Hyatt will continue to serve as the team's deep threat, a role that should see some opportunities for big plays on Monday, reaching 100 receiving yards for the second consecutive game will be a tough task against a talented pass defense.

View photos of the Giants on the practice field ahead of the Week 14 matchup against the Green Bay Packers.

Green Bay's Jordan Love is one of the top five hottest quarterbacks in the NFL right now.

John Schmeelk: Fact – My reflex action here was to go with "Fiction," but when I looked at the numbers, I had to revise my instinctual answer. He has eight touchdowns and no interceptions over his last three games. I would put Dak Prescott and Brock Purdy ahead of him on the "hot" list, but Love is right with the next set of quarterbacks like CJ Stroud, Tua Tagovailoa and others. He is playing efficient ball, growing chemistry with his young set of wide receivers, and has the natural talent to manufacture explosive plays down the field.

Dan Salomone: Fact – Love has at least 250 pass yards and multiple passing touchdowns in four consecutive games, the only NFL quarterback to have such a streak this season. If that weren't enough, Love and Aaron Rodgers have the same touchdown-to-interception ratio (24-10) through 12 games of their first campaigns as starters in Green Bay.

Lance Medow: Fact – Jordan Love has thrown for eight touchdowns with no interceptions during the Packers' current three-game winning streak.  That qualifies as one of the top five hottest signal-callers in the league right now.  In comparison, Dak Prescott of the Cowboys has tallied nine touchdowns and no picks in the last three contests while the Niners' Brock Purdy has collected eight touchdown passes and one interception during the same stretch.  From a statistical standpoint, Love is clearly right up there, and he's also piled up at least 267 passing yards in each of those games.

Matt Citak: Fact – Love has been playing the best football of his career throughout Green Bay's three-game win streak. During that stretch, he has completed 68.5 percent of his passes (74 of 108) for 857 yards, eight touchdowns and no interceptions with a passer rating over 105 in each outing. Only three of his 10 interceptions on the season have come in the last six weeks, while he has totaled 12 touchdowns over that span. Love has also thrown for no less than 267 yards in each of the last four games. After enduring a rough stretch earlier in the season, Love has been on fire over the last month.

Saquon Barkley will have 100 scrimmage yards for the third time in three career games against the Packers.

John Schmeelk: Fact – The Packers have struggled stopping the run this season, allowing the third-most rushing yards per game (136) this season. More advanced statistics are more generous to the Packers' run defense (22nd in EPA allowed per rush/23rd in success rate allowed), but it is still something they are susceptible to in their bend-but-don't-break style.

Dan Salomone: Fact – The Packers have allowed at least 140 rushing yards in four consecutive games, their longest streak since 1990.

Lance Medow: Fact – The Packers' Achilles' heel this season has been their run defense as they're allowing 136 yards per game (30th NFL). So from that standpoint, it's an attractive matchup for Saquon Barkley, who has had 100 scrimmage yards in four of the last six contests.  Barkley's usage as a receiver has fluctuated this season, but I don't think it's a stretch for him to get at least 75 rushing yards and 25 through the air, so I'll lean toward fact.

Matt Citak: Fact – Forget about his history against the Packers. Barkley has topped 110 yards from scrimmage in four of the team's last six games. In fact, in his seven games since returning from an ankle injury that sidelined him for three weeks, Barkley is averaging just over 100 scrimmage yards. Green Bay has the league's 30th-ranked run defense after allowing an average of 160.8 rushing yards in their last four outings. Barkley should have success on the ground against the Packers, and when you add in his production in the passing game, he should be able to top 100 total yards.

View rare photos of the history between the New York Giants and Green Bay Packers.


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