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Fact or Fiction: Giants' takeaway streak; toughest road venue


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

Tommy DeVito has been the biggest Giants surprise since Victor Cruz.

John Schmeelk: Fact – I considered sliding Micah McFadden into this conversation, but he was still a drafted player, and hasn't had the overall impact of a DeVito simply because of the position he plays. Cruz was still a bigger surprise because the level of his dominance surpasses anything DeVito has done, but I don't think there has been another bigger surprise than DeVito since Cruz emerged as one of the best receivers in football. The last four games are critical, however, for this to remain true. There have been many backup quarterbacks that have come on to win a few games to start their career before fading away.

Dan Salomone: Fiction – There are always going to be high expectations for a 12th overall draft pick, but no one envisioned what was to come for Odell Beckham Jr. in his rookie season, especially when he missed the first four weeks with a hamstring injury. The hype on and off the field around him has not been matched many times in the sport.

Lance Medow: Fiction – Victor Cruz's breakout season was 2011, and while he set the bar high, I think there's a few other players I would put under the umbrella of pleasant surprises between then and Tommy DeVito. One is safety Stevie Brown, who recorded a career-high eight interceptions with 307 return yards in 2012 after replacing an injured Kenny Phillips. His interception total was the most by a Giant since 1968 and his return yards were the fourth highest-single season tally in NFL history. To put things in perspective, Brown had no interceptions in his first two seasons in the league with the Raiders and Colts, respectively. I would say that absolutely counts as a major surprise. The other player worth mentioning is tight end Larry Donnell, who had a career year in 2014 with 63 receptions for 623 yards and six touchdowns, highlighted by a three-touchdown performance on Thursday Night Football against Washington. Donnell went undrafted in 2011, spent 2012 on the practice squad and was mainly a special teams player in 2013. I'd love to meet the individual who saw his 2014 production coming.

Matt Citak: Fact – There hasn't been this level of buzz around a young, undrafted Giant since we saw Cruz do the salsa dance for the first time back in 2011. What DeVito has done over the last month to thrust himself into the national spotlight has been nothing short of amazing. However, it's important to keep things in check. Cruz had a great career that consisted of a Super Bowl title, an All-Pro selection, and back-to-back 1,000-yard seasons. As great as DeVito has been, he's still a rookie that has only started four games. There hasn't been this big of a surprise for the Giants since Cruz first burst onto the scene, but DeVito has a long way to go before he reaches that status in Giants history.

The Giants will have multiple takeaways for the fifth consecutive game.

John Schmeelk: Fiction – The Saints have a very similar turnover profile as the Giants, sitting at plus-5 while the Giants are plus-6. They have the same number of takeaways while the Giants have one fewer giveaway. The Saints like to run the football and aren't the high-flying offense we saw during those epic Drew Brees-Eli Manning shootouts from yesteryear. The Giants have 12 takeaways in their last three games and 14 in their last four. That type of pace is hard to keep up, and I think the Giants come back down to earth in that regard in New Orleans.

Dan Salomone: Fact – Defensive coordinator Wink Martindale was asked this week if he could put a finger on why they're forcing so many turnovers. "If I could do that," he responded, "we'd have a crap ton of them – I tried to clean that up – of takeaways every year." He went on to say that it's a product of players taking advantage of situations and becoming "better finishers at the football."

Lance Medow: Fiction – The Saints have 17 giveaways in 13 games, which puts them right in the middle of the pack. They've had at least one turnover in 12 of those 13 contests and at least two in six games. While those trends appear to be attractive, it's also important to note the Giants will be facing a far more polished quarterback Sunday compared to the last three matchups when they collided with Sam Howell, Mac Jones/Bailey Zappe and Jordan Love. Carr has more career starts than all four of those signal callers combined. That doesn't mean he'll play a completely clean game, but it does mean he's seen his fair share of defensive schemes unlike those other quarterbacks and that does make a difference.

Matt Citak: Fact – We know how great the Giants have been in forcing turnovers in recent weeks, as their 14 takeaways in the last four weeks leads the NFL, despite having a bye during that stretch. But perhaps more importantly, the Saints' offense has not done a great job of protecting the football this year. While their 17 turnovers are tied for 14th in the league, they have six different games with multiple turnovers, including three of their last four.

View photos of the Giants on the practice field ahead of the Week 15 matchup against the New Orleans Saints.

Containing Alvin Kamara is the Giants' top priority this week.

John Schmeelk: Fact – Alvin Kamara still has it. He has juice, can make tacklers miss, and is a rugged runner after contact. He is just as dangerous in the passing game as he is in the running game. Despite missing three games due to suspension, he leads running backs in receptions with 63 (Breece Hall and Christian McCaffrey have 52) and he is fourth in receiving yardage. The Saints like to get him matched up one-on-one with linebackers on option routes, and they will still use him on wheel routes down the field. He can carry the Saints' offense if the Giants can't slow him down. His matchup with Bobby Okereke will be critical.

Dan Salomone: Fiction – Going back to the previous statement, the turnover battle will be key as the Giants enter back-to-back weeks in two of the toughest road venues in the NFL.

Lance Medow: Fact – The Saints' offense hasn't been electric this season as they're only averaging just under 22 points per game and they're middle of the pack in both passing and rushing yards per game. Based on those rankings, there hasn't been one player in particular that has stood out, but Alvin Kamara is the team's most versatile weapon because of what he can do as a runner and receiver. He also leads the team in scrimmage yards (966) and touchdowns (6) so he's more than capable of doing damage in multiple facets and putting stress on a defense. Three of his six scores have come in the last two games so regardless of his season totals, he's clearly starting to heat up.

Matt Citak: Fact – As a pure rusher, Kamara does not look like the same player we saw win Offensive Rookie of the Year and make five consecutive Pro Bowls to start his NFL career. He has gained just 3.9 yards per carry and 56.4 rushing yards per game across 10 contests this season. However, the area in which Kamara is still dangerous in is the passing game. The veteran back is averaging over six receptions per game with a total of 63 receptions for 402 yards thus far. This puts him on pace to break his previous career-best of 83 receptions. Derek Carr is pushing the ball down field less this year, which has led to an uptick in targets for Kamara. His 73 targets and 63 receptions rank second on the team, only behind wide receiver Chris Olave. The Giants' linebackers will have to keep a close eye on Kamara in the passing game Sunday.

New Orleans and Philadelphia, where the Giants will play their next two weeks, are the two toughest road environments in the NFL.

John Schmeelk: Fiction – Those two cities are certainly in the conversation, but I would be hard-pressed to not have Seattle in the top couple teams. Dallas has also become a tough road venue, where the Cowboys have won 15 straight games. I do think it is important for the Giants to come out strong on Sunday to quiet the crowd.

Dan Salomone: Fact – When talking about tough road venues, it's important to note that the actual team plays a part in that. The Patriots were dominant in New England and away from it. The great Seahawks teams won a lot of games away from Seattle, too. The Chiefs will always be in a game with Patrick Mahomes no matter the location. But there's something about these two venues that have given the Giants a lot of trouble over the years no matter how either team is doing that season.

Lance Medow: Fiction – I'd put Seattle and Kansas City ahead of both of those cities as Lumen Field and Arrowhead Stadium, respectively, are no picnics, especially the former due to the noise factor. The Ceasars Superdome in New Orleans is right up there, but the Saints haven't been as dominant at home since Drew Brees retired as they're 10-13 going back to 2021. The Giants also have at least one game in Philadelphia every season, so I think that slightly lessens the difficulty of a location given the familiarity.

Matt Citak: Fiction – There is no doubt that New Orleans and Philadelphia are up there among the toughest road environments in the NFL. The fact that the Giants play at the Linc on Christmas Day will certainly provide the fans in the stadium even more juice. However, there are two stadiums that immediately come to mind as the toughest NFL road stadiums to play in – Arrowhead Stadium and Lumen Field. Both stadiums have constantly been voted as the toughest for opposing teams to play in, and have even set Guinness World Records for loudest crowd roars at an outdoor stadium. Compared to those two stadiums, sign me up for a game in New Orleans and Philadelphia.


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