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Fact or Fiction: X-factors for Sunday; Saquon Barkley's workload


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

Saquon Barkley will have more than 100 yards from scrimmage for the fourth consecutive game.

John Schmeelk: Fiction – The Cowboys' defense will have one mission on Sunday: stop Saquon Barkley. I expect to see a lot of stacked boxes and 22 eyes locked on No. 26 on every single snap. If the Cowboys' defense has a weakness, it is periodic issues against the run, but they did shut down the Eagles' run game last week, holding them to just 3.3 yads per carry. Barkley will get plenty of touches, and if he breaks one long run, he will go over a 100. But I think overall it will be tough sledding against one of the best defenses in football.

Dan Salomone: Fact – He averages just below 90 scrimmage yards in his previous nine games against the Cowboys, but they will need him at his best for his 10th appearance in the NFC East rivalry.

Lance Medow: Fiction – When these teams met in Week 1, Saquon Barkley was limited to 63 scrimmage yards. Game flow as well clearly impacted that number, but the Cowboys have been much more effective defending the run this season. James Conner of the Cardinals is the only opposing No. 1 back who has surpassed 100 scrimmage yards against Dallas this season, and that happened in Week 2. Since then, the Cowboys have mainly kept running backs in check, including the Niners' Christian McCaffrey, who finished with 78 yards from scrimmage on 21 touches.

Matt Citak: Fact – With the Giants down to their third-string quarterback, it's likely that the offense leans heavily on the star running back against a talented Cowboys defense. Barkley has averaged over 24 carries per game in the four weeks since returning from an ankle injury, and it's reasonable to think he could top that number on Sunday. Add in his 3.7 receptions per game this season, and it's easy to see the path for Barkley to top 100 yards from scrimmage for the fourth consecutive game.

The Giants' best path to victory is to win the turnover differential by at least two.

John Schmeelk: Fact – If the Giants want to beat the Cowboys on Sunday, they have to play great defense and take the football away. It will be difficult, given the Cowboys are plus-5 in turnover ratio (tied for sixth-best in the NFL), while the Giants are minus-4 (tied for sixth-worst in the NFL). Dallas has the fifth-fewest giveaways this year (eight) and the game flow might favor a gameplan that doesn't force the Cowboys to force things down the field. Dak Prescott is very happy to move the team up and down the field methodically with short passes.

Dan Salomone: Fact – Only one team has been able to force multiple takeaways against the Cowboys this season, and that was the vaunted 49ers, who won 42-10. Turnovers are equalizers.

Lance Medow: Fact – I'm going fact here, but it comes with a caveat. Not only do you need to win the turnover battle by at least two, but you must score touchdowns off those takeaways. Collecting more of the latter alone isn't enough. It's about what you do with them. The Cowboys showcase the third-highest scoring offense in the NFL as they're averaging 27.5 points per game. The Giants are last in that category at 11.2. In order to close the gap, not only do you need stops and opportunistic plays, but you must find the end zone.

Matt Citak: Fact – The Cowboys rank in the top seven in turnovers on both sides of the ball. While the Giants come in at 14th in offensive turnovers, the defense ranks 29th in takeaways. Protecting the football has to be one of the top priorities for Tommy DeVito and the entire Giants offense this week going up against a Cowboys defense that has looked to make big splash plays ever since Dan Quinn took over as defensive coordinator (their 33 takeaways last season led the NFL). Given the state of the offense, if the unit does not turn the ball over while the defense forces two or more takeaways, the Giants would receive a significant boost Sunday.

View rare photos from the historic rivalry between the New York Giants and Dallas Cowboys.

Jalin Hyatt will have a reception of 25+ yards this week.

John Schmeelk: Fact – The Cowboys play Cover-1 (man-to-man with a single high safety) more than every team in the NFL except for one (Browns). They play that coverage nearly 34 percent of the time. When the Giants have seen that coverage the last few weeks, they try to target Jalin Hyatt over the top down the sideline, since it is hard for the deep safety to get over and help the cornerback. Tommy DeVito will find Hyatt successfully on at least one of those plays.

Dan Salomone: Fact – The third-round pick has been targeted 14 times in the past four weeks after having only five in the first five games. They will look to get him going more as he has now crossed the midway point of his rookie campaign.

Lance Medow: Fiction – The Cowboys are sixth in the NFL against the pass, and that's even without one of their top corners in Trevon Diggs, who is out for the season with a torn ACL. That's partially because Diggs' replacement DaRon Bland has filled in admirably and opposite him is Stephon Gilmore, a polished vet. While Jalin Hyatt could see several different players, he and Tommy DeVito haven't had much time together on the field in game settings. When you take all those factors into consideration, I'll lean toward the absence of an explosive play between DeVito and Hyatt.

Matt Citak: Fact – We saw the type of impact Hyatt can have on a game in Week 7, when he caught two passes for 75 yards against the Commanders. While he was held to just 19 receiving yards on two receptions last week, Hyatt was targeted another three times, all of which were deep downfield. The two games that Hyatt has recorded long receptions in happen to also be the two games the Giants have won. DeVito will likely take a few chances downfield this week, with the rookie receiver as his most likely target.

Micah McFadden is the X-factor for the Giants' defense on Sunday in Dallas.

John Schmeelk: Fiction: It is Dexter Lawrence. He is the best player on the Giants' defense and has the ability to wreck the game more so than any other Giants defensive player. If he can consistently get the best of Cowboys center Tyler Biadasz, slowing down both the Cowboys run game, and disrupting Dak Prescott in the pocket, it could lead to the defensive performance and takeaways the Giants need to win this game.

Dan Salomone: Fact – As Brian Daboll said this week, "He's got a nose for the football, can play sideline-to-sideline, makes some productive tackles. He's really developed the way you hope young players develop." The first point is the key this week. The Giants need to force turnovers.

Lance Medow: Fiction – Micah McFadden is having a strong season, but when you look at the Cowboys' strength right now, it's the passing attack. So all eyes have to go to the secondary, specifically the corners lining up against CeeDee Lamb, who is on an absolute tear with 30 receptions on 37 targets in the last three games since Dallas returned from the bye. He and Dak Prescott are heating up, and considering Lamb sees plenty of snaps in the slot, you could argue Cor'Dale Flott will be the X-factor as he will likely see plenty of the Cowboys No. 1 wideout along with Deonte Banks.

Matt Citak: Fiction – McFadden has taken a big step in his development this year, and according to Pro Football Focus, the second-year player has been one of the top linebackers in the NFL over the last four games. While I expect him to keep that up this Sunday in Dallas, the real X-factors for the Giants' defense are Dexter Lawrence and Kayvon Thibodeaux. Those two have had the most success on the team in generating pressure this season, and they will have to do that early and often against the Cowboys. Dak Prescott has been playing his best football of the season over the last few weeks. If Lawrence and Thibodeaux can constantly make Prescott uncomfortable in the pocket, it could lead to some big plays for the defense.

View rare photos from the historic rivalry between the New York Giants and Dallas Cowboys.