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Fact or Fiction: Saquon Barkley's success & more stat predictions


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

Saquon Barkley will have at least 120 yards from scrimmage.

John Schmeelk: Fact – Despite having a strong front four, the Commanders' rush defense has been struggling this year. They are 23rd in EPA allowed per rush and 23rd in success rate against the run while allowing 129 rush yards per game (10th-most) and 4.58 yards per rush play (7th-most). Washington plays both safeties deep at the third-highest rate in the league, which means their boxes are generally a bit lighter. Barkley should find some room to room with the opportunity to break a couple of long runs.

Dan Salomone: Fact – The Giants are 6-3-1 against the Commanders since they drafted Barkley in 2018. It's no coincidence. The team could use another big performance out of him this Sunday.

Lance Medow: Fiction – There are two things you must take into consideration: Saquon Barkley has yet to reach at least 120 scrimmage yards in a game this season and no opposing lead running back has accomplished that feat against Washington through six games; and the Giants' offensive line is still very much a work in progress given several injuries to starters and many new faces in the mix. These factors present reasonable obstacles to get to that number.

Matt Citak: Fact – In his first game back after missing three weeks with an ankle injury, Barkley rushed for 93 yards and caught four passes. With him being another week removed from the sprained ankle, expect Barkley's production to increase this week. Barkley is averaging 5.8 yards per carry and nearly 130 yards from scrimmage in his career against the Commanders. The Giants will lean on him this weekend and he will easily top 120 total yards.

Jalin Hyatt will be targeted at least five times, which would be the most of his rookie season, so far.

John Schmeelk: Fiction – I will believe this when I see it. The Giants would like to get the ball to Hyatt, but the fact remains he is fourth on the Giants' target list behind Darius Slayton, Darren Waller, and Wan'Dale Robinson. I expect Hyatt to get a few more looks on shot-plays down the field, but I never envisioned him as a high-target receiver. He is still learning the position as a player who did not work in a pro-style offense in college and rarely saw press coverage or played outside.

Dan Salomone: Fact – It doesn't seem like just coach speak. Brian Daboll, a former wide receivers coach, said this week that Hyatt has "got to play." He added, "You can go out here and practice and do that, which is important, but you've got to get some game reps and run routes against DBs that are playing in the NFL in a competitive way."

Lance Medow: Fiction – The biggest factor here is whether the offensive line will provide enough time for the Giants to take some chances down the field in the direction of Hyatt against a strong Washington defensive front because those two facets go hand-in-hand. I also wouldn't overlook the emergence of Wan'Dale Robinson, who has been targeted at least six times in each of the last three games and runs routes that are a bit friendlier to the quarterback. Hyatt's current season-high is four targets and I can see him staying at the number for the time being as I don't think the coaching staff will force feed him.

Matt Citak: Fact – Hyatt was on the field for 56 offensive snaps (73 percent) in Week 6, the most he's played in a game this season. Not only was he on the field more, he got more targets. After not topping two targets in a game through Week 5, Hyatt had four passes thrown his way, three of which he caught. Both coach Brian Daboll and offensive coordinator Mike Kafka spoke this week about Hyatt's role in the offense growing, and Sunday could be the rookie's breakout game. Regardless of who's at quarterback, I expect Hyatt to see plenty of action against the Commanders, including a few shots down field.

Once again, the New York Giants are bringing back their classic blue uniforms from the '80s and '90s for the 2023 season as part of two Legacy Games presented by Quest.

The Giants will force multiple turnovers for the third consecutive week.

John Schmeelk: Fact – Sam Howell is a big play waiting to happen … for the Commanders and their opponent. Howell has been sacked more times than any other quarterback this year because he holds the ball so long. He is always trying to get the ball downfield and make big plays. He has six interceptions this season and Pro Football Focus has tracked him for eight turnover-worthy plays. He trusts his wide receivers, specifically Terry McLaurin, and will not hesitate to target him down the field - even if coverage is tight. The Giants will have plenty of opportunities to extend their takeaway streak on Sunday.

Dan Salomone: Fact – Washington likes to throw it with a 67-23 pass-to-run ratio. "He slings it," Daboll said of Commanders quarterback Sam Howell. "He's not afraid to turn it loose, stands in the pocket, has a good arm. He's not afraid to fire it. So, he's a tough competitor. Liked him coming out, and he's done a good job there."

Lance Medow: Fact – I'm going fact here but, as I emphasized in previous weeks, the volume of takeaways alone doesn't guarantee an outcome. Two weeks ago against the Dolphins, the Giants recorded their first three takeaways of the season, however, they only scored 10 points off those opportunistic plays and given the other break downs, they didn't serve as much of a game changer. Last week against the Bills, they had two takeaways but only scored three points off those Buffalo mishaps.

Matt Citak: Fact – Washington's 10 turnovers this season are tied for the seventh-most in the league. They have had multiple turnovers in three of their six games, including two games with three or more. As Giants defensive coordinator Wink Martindale has said in the past, turnovers come in bunches. With the defense beginning to really gel, Sunday will mark the third straight game in which the unit forces multiple turnovers.

Whichever team sacks the quarterback more will win the game.

John Schmeelk: Fiction – I think this statement is likely, but it is not certain. I expect both of these teams will rack up at least a couple of sacks on Sunday because of Washington's pass rush and Howell's propensity to hold the ball, but I think there is another metric that will far more important. Whichever team runs the ball for more yards in this game (which will limit their dropbacks and protect their quarterback) will be the team that wins this game. I talked about the Commanders' rush defense in the first statement, but the Giants' rush defense has been suspect, too, allowing more than 120 yards in every game this year. Washington, however, has not committed to the run this year, ranking last in run rate in the first halves of games and on 1st-and-10. If either team can control the game with the run game it will give them a decisive advantage.

Dan Salomone: Fact – The Giants and Commanders have given up the second-most and most sacks, respectively, this season. Whichever defense can capitalize better will have a good chance to decide the game.

Lance Medow: Fiction – The Giants have yet to win the sack battle this season and even in their lone win, the Cardinals collected more sacks that day. That's why I don't think the game is that simple. plus Sam Howell has been sacked a league-high 34 times this year, yet Washington is 3-3. The high volume of hits hasn't necessarily always come back to bite the team.

Matt Citak: Fiction – The Commanders (34) and Giants (33) rank first and second, respectively, in most sacks allowed this season. No other team has allowed more than 25. Washington is 3-3 despite losing the sack battle in five of six games. Both quarterbacks are likely to face some level of pressure Sunday. I think the outcome of the game is more likely to come down to who wins the turnover battle than who finishes with more sacks.

View photos of the Giants on the practice field ahead of the Week 7 matchup against the Washington Commanders.


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