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Fact or Fiction: Predictions for season finale

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

Saquon Barkley will run for 100 yards for the second consecutive week.

John Schmeelk: Fiction - Washington's set of defensive tackles is three-deep and one of the toughest in the group to run against in the NFL. Jonathan Allen, Daron Payne and Matt Ioannidis are stout against the run and excellent pass rushers. They will be a challenge for the Giants' guards and center throughout the game

Dan Salomone: Fact – Barkley's best games tend to come against Washington, especially late in the season. In Week 16 of the 2019 season, he broke Tiki Barber's single-game franchise record with 279 yards from scrimmage, including a career-high 189 yards on the ground. Barkley's second-best game? He ran for 170 yards in Week 14 of 2018 … against Washington.

Lance Medow: Fiction - Although the Washington defense has struggled this season and took a step back in comparison to 2020, they have contained the ground game. The WFT ranks eighth in the NFL against the run, surrendering 105 yards per game and has only allowed one player to reach the century mark this season – the Eagles' Miles Sanders (131 yards in Week 15). Barkley reached 100 last week for the fist time since the 2019 season finale.

Matt Citak: Fiction – It will be tough for Barkley to repeat a 100-yard performance this weekend. Washington has one of the top run defenses in the NFL, ranking eighth in rushing yards allowed per game and ninth in yards per carry. Barkley finished with 57 rushing yards in the first meeting between the two teams. Although he will get more than 13 carries this time, Washington is likely to sell out against the run. Mike Glennon attempted just 11 passes last week, and Jake Fromm could be in for a similar passing output on Sunday.

Lorenzo Carter will record a sack for the fourth consecutive week.

John Schmeelk: Fact - Charles Leno and Sam Cosmi should be Washington's two starting offensive tackles. Leno is a steady veteran, while Cosmi is a talented rookie, but you can get pressure against them over the course of a game. Taylor Heinicke tends to hold the ball to try to make big plays, and will try to roll out using his legs. You can imagine he will run into a sack or two and Carter should be a beneficiary of that action.

Dan Salomone: Fact – Carter has eaten his Wheaties the last three weeks, setting the tone early by making his presence felt. He has four sacks, four tackles for loss, three passes defensed, five quarterback hits, and two forced fumbles in that three-game stretch.

Lance Medow: Fact - Washington has surrendered 40 sacks on the season, which is the 10th-most in the NFL. They've had players in and out of the lineup on the offensive line due to injuries and COVID19 protocols and are starting their fourth different center. Carter is clearly playing his best football of the season, so there's no reason he can't continue his streak.

Matt Citak: Fact – Carter had a slow start to his season, but in recent weeks, the fourth-year linebacker has been on an absolute tear. And during its current four-game losing streak, Washington has struggled to protect the quarterback (allowing 15 sacks).

View rare photos of the all-time series between the New York Giants and the Washington Football Team.

Andrew Thomas has been the brightest silver lining in a disappointing season.

John Schmeelk: Fact - Thomas' continued improvement and development into what looks like an upper-echelon offensive tackle is essential to the long-term success of the franchise. If you were conducting a draft of the Giants' players, he would be the first pick. He is a cornerstone foundational piece they can build their offensive line around.

Dan Salomone: Fact – Azeez Ojulari, a second-round draft choice, is another option as he has one last chance to set on his franchise rookie sacks record. But Thomas' play at one of the most important non-quarterback positions is a building block for 2022 and beyond.

Lance Medow: Fact - After an up-and-down rookie year, Thomas seemed to be that much more comfortable in his position this season, despite missing some time due to injury. Although one lineman can only do so much, every facet of the offense relies on the trenches - so solidifying the left tackle position would be a huge development.

Matt Citak: Fact – After his rookie season performance, there were some questions surrounding the Giants' young left tackle - those questions have since been put to bed. Thomas has been the Giants' most consistent player on either side of the ball this season, stacking strong performance after strong performance, and the analytics support it. The former fourth overall pick has earned an 80.0 overall grade from PFF this year, the 17th-best mark among all offensive tackles, while his 82.2 pass block grade ranks 12th. The Giants will have to address the offensive line this off-season, but one position they do not have to worry about is left tackle.

Jaylon Smith is a long-term option for the Giants.

John Schmeelk: Fact - He can be a rotational player who can succeed in a certain role. He may not be a three-down player who can be counted on to be a big part of your success. But he has skills, such as speed, that can be used to his advantage in certain situations. Everyone should always be cautious in considering someone that was a late-season waiver or free-agent pickup becoming a central piece of a team. There's a reason the player was available in the middle of the season.

Dan Salomone: Fact – Assistant head coach/defensive coordinator Patrick Graham has certainly been pleased with Smith, who has made an impact on the field in his brief time with the Giants. With a Pro Bowl under his belt, he also added immediate leadership to the room. "He might have a whole bunch of stuff going on in his life. It's holiday season, got COVID going on, he's had to move three different places, but when he's come in the building, he's consistent," Graham said. "Consistent energy, good pace about him in terms of his attitude the whole day all the way through. I could probably learn something from him because I'm about as moody as they come (laughs). I'm working on it though, I'm working on it. It's been infectious."

Lance Medow: Fiction - It really depends on how you define long-term. Could the Giants bring him back next season as a rotational linebacker? Absolutely. Given he's only 26 and has played five seasons in the NFL, Smith could certainly be a contributor for several more years, but it's hard to say whether he'll be able to carve out a long-term role with the Giants. Injuries to Blake Martinez, Carter Coughlin and Elerson Smith left the team thin this season; the latter two were recent draft picks and the Giants invested in Blake prior to the 2020 season. Those three players are likely returning and a new draft class will be added, so Smith isn't a lock to be on the team for the next few seasons.

Matt Citak: Fact – Smith has looked incredibly impressive during his short time with the Giants. In his three games with Big Blue, Smith has totaled 14 tackles (eight solo) and one sack, but his strong play goes beyond the box score. Smith's overall grade of 78.6 from PFF last week was the highest on the defense. In the past two games, he has received pass rush grades of 72.2 and 71.0, while his coverage grades since joining the Giants have been consistently strong - 77.5, 66.0 and 79.4. His 66.5 overall grade on the season (including limited action in six games with the Cowboys and Packers) ranks 18th among NFL linebackers, while his impressive 80.5 coverage grade ranks fourth at the position.

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