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Fact or Fiction: Keys & predictions for Week 14


Saquon Barkley will have at least 100 yards from scrimmage vs. Los Angeles

John Schmeelk: Fact - If the Giants are ever going to get their running game going, it'll be this week against the Chargers, who give up more rushing yards per game than every team in the league other than the Houston Texans. The Giants need to prove they are capable of taking advantage of that weakness, especially since the Chargers have held opponents to under 105 yards rushing in three of their last four games. Regardless of the Giants' ability to run the ball, however, Barkley will likely be a huge target in the pass games on checkdowns or if they can get him lined up in 1-on-1 matchups against linebackers.

Dan Salomone: Fact – Barkley was candid coming out of Miami about the offense not holding up its end of the bargain while the defense has surged. The Giants need their skill players to step up, given the quarterback situation.

Lance Medow: Fiction - The Chargers are 31st in the NFL against the run and allowing an average of 141 rushing yards per game; but if you go based on their last few contests, they've actually improved in that category. Last week, Bengals running back Joe Mixon had just 54 rushing yards and two weeks prior to that, Najee Harris of the Steelers was limited to 39 yards on the ground and 59 overall. Barkley has had at least 100 scrimmage yards just once (Week 4 in New Orleans) in his eight appearances this season.

Matt Citak: Fact – Barkley has topped 100 yards from scrimmage just once this season, all the way back in Week 4 against the Saints. But the fourth-year back will once again hit that mark this Sunday against the Chargers. Barkley is another week removed from the ankle sprain that forced him to miss four games, which should help with his burst and change of direction. The Chargers enter this matchup ranking 31st in the league in rushing yards allowed at 141.2 per game. Barkley is due for a breakout game, and it will come at SoFi Stadium in Week 14.

Evan Engram will lead the Giants in receiving yards against the Chargers

John Schmeelk: Fiction - It is always wiser to take "the field" on questions like this. We still don't know which Giants receivers will be healthy – RB Saquon Barkley could end up leading the Giants in catches. The Chargers do not have accomplished cover cornerbacks outside, especially if Asante Samuel Jr. can't play, so this may be a breakout game for Kenny Golladay.

Dan Salomone: Fact – Engram's the healthiest option and found a connection last week (season-high 61 yards) with Mike Glennon, who is expected to clear the concussion protocol and make his second consecutive start. Engram's second-highest receiving total was in Dallas, where Glennon played the entire second half after Daniel Jones went down.

Lance Medow: Fiction - Three opposing tight ends (Travis Kelce, David Njoku and Mark Andrews) have led their teams in receiving yards this season against the Chargers, but none since Week 6. Engram has led the Giants in that category twice this season, both times coming in the last four games. However, with Sterling Shepard potentially returning this week, Engram likely will have more competition so go with the take the field.

Matt Citak: Fiction – Engram has put together some good performances in recent weeks, including catching touchdown passes in consecutive games back in Weeks 8-9. The tight end led the Giants in receiving yards against the Dolphins last week, but this week that honor will belong to Kenny Golladay. The Giants have been open to the media about their desire to get Golladay more involved in the offense, and in each of the last few games, the 6-foot-4 receiver has gotten some targets in the red zone.

View photos from practice at the University of Arizona as the Giants prepare for their matchup against the Chargers.

The Giants need to force at least two turnovers to defeat the Chargers.

John Schmeelk: Fact - Until last week, the Giants' defense had forced at least one takeaway in every game this season. Their offense has struggled to move the ball up and down the field consistently and will probably need the help of takeaways for good field position or a defensive score to put enough points on the board to win.

Dan Salomone: Fiction – They can still win by putting together a stout defensive performance with no takeaways, but it's different story on offense. It will be very tough for the Giants to win on the road if they start turning over the ball with a backup quarterback in the game - that's the biggest key.

Lance Medow: Fact - The Giants' offense has produced 20 points or less in nine of their 12 games this season. The Chargers are averaging 26 points per contest and have scored 24 points or more in seven of their 12 games. Given those trends, it would be extremely beneficial for the Giants' defense to get the ball. And let's take it further by asking the defense to score off one of those takeaways.

Matt Citak: Fact – In each of their last two wins, the Giants' defense has forced at least three turnovers. In fact, against the Eagles in Week 12, Big Blue's defense forced a season-high four turnovers, which helped limit Philadelphia to a mere seven points, their lowest point total of the season. The Chargers' offense comes into this matchup ranking ninth in points and seventh in yards, with Justin Herbert playing like one of the top quarterbacks in the NFL. In order for the Giants to win this game, the defense must do a good job in limiting Los Angeles and turnovers play a big part in do so. The young QB has thrown 11 interceptions in 12 games this season, topping his mark of 10 interceptions in 15 games last year, so the defense should get some opportunities to make big plays.

The Los Angeles NFL teams are better than the Los Angeles NBA teams right now.

John Schmeelk: Fact - The Clippers are only two games over .500 and missing their best player in Kawhi Leonard. The Lakers are .500 and struggling to figure out the LeBron James – Russell Westbrook dynamic. The Lakers are currently the seventh seed and the Clippers fifth in the Western Conference. The Rams are in the top tier of the NFC with a real chance to get the Super Bowl. The Chargers are just a game out of first place in the AFC West and have the talent to make a run in the playoffs, given the wide-open nature of the AFC.

Dan Salomone: Fact – It's remarkable how far the Chargers and Rams have come since their moves to Los Angeles. The Chargers were 5-11 in their final season in San Diego in 2016, the same year the Rams made their return to L.A. with a 4-12 record. Now, they look like consistent players in their respective conferences for the foreseeable future.

Lance Medow: Fact - The Chargers are 7-5 while the Rams are 8-4 and both teams are in the playoff hunt. In comparison, the Clippers and Lakers are each hovering around .500 and the Lakers only recently put their heads above water. On top of that, there's less games in the NFL so each one carries that much more weight, meaning, at this point, we have a much better idea what we're going to see out of the NFL teams versus those in the NBA.

Matt Citak: Fact – The Lakers were crowned NBA Champions a little over a year ago (COVID-19 caused a delay in the 2019-2020 NBA season), so LeBron James' squad is not that far removed from their NBA title. However, the simple fact of the matter is, the L.A. football teams are playing significantly better than the city's basketball teams. The Clippers are only two games above .500, while the Lakers are hovering right above .500 at 13-12. Meanwhile, over at SoFi Stadium, a three-game losing streak by the Rams dropped them to 8-4, still one of the best records in the NFC. The Chargers sit at 7-5 and find themselves in second place in the AFC West, yet are still just two games behind the Patriots for the best record in the AFC. Frankly, it isn't even close, the NFL teams are significantly better than their counterparts.


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