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Fact or Fiction: New Year's Eve predictions

DARIUS-SLAYTON-FOF

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

Matthew Stafford is the hottest quarterback in the NFL right now.

John Schmeelk: Fact - Before his Sunday Night performance against the Ravens, Brock Purdy would have been the answer to this question, but now I think it is fair to go with Stafford. He is one of only four quarterbacks in NFL history to compile ten passing touchdowns with no interceptions in December in NFL history. In his last five games, Stafford is tied for second in passing yards, and leads the NFL in passing touchdowns (14), passer rating, has thrown the fewest interceptions per game, and has been sacked the fewest times per game.

Dan Salomone: Fact – Stafford has a franchise-record streak of four consecutive games with multiple passing touchdowns and no interceptions. The last quarterback to do so in five consecutive games was Aaron Rodgers in 2021, when he picked up his fourth MVP crown.

Lance Medow: Fact – Stafford is playing at an extremely high, consistent level after suffering a sprained ligament in his right thumb in Week 8 against the Cowboys. His efficiency also jumps out as he completed over 70 percent of his passes in each of the last two games against the Commanders and Saints, respectively. This will be a noticeable challenge for the Giants defense against one of the most experienced quarterbacks in the league.

Matt Citak: Fact – Over the last five weeks in which the Rams have gone 4-1 with their lone loss coming in overtime against the Ravens, Stafford has been the best player in the NFL. The veteran quarterback has a 14-to-1 touchdown-to-interception ratio during that span while averaging 277.6 passing yards. He has earned a 100+ passer rating in every game while finishing with a 70+ completion percentage in three of the five outings. As defensive coordinator Wink Martindale put it on Thursday, Stafford is "playing at a Hall of Fame-type level" right now.

Aaron Donald is the most accomplished active NFL player, offensively or defensively.

John Schmeelk: Fiction - I can't say he is the most accomplished with Aaron Rodgers still in the NFL. Donald leads the way defensively but Rodgers' MVP awards and length of his career still puts him ahead of Donald. Donald would, however, take the crown defensively.

Dan Salomone: Fact – Three people have won three AP NFL Defensive Player of the Year awards: Lawrence Taylor, J.J. Watt, and Aaron Donald. Not bad for a defensive tackle out of Pittsburgh.

Lance Medow: Fiction – Patrick Mahomes deserves some consideration as well with a pair of Super Bowl victories, Super Bowl MVPs and regular-season MVP. But Aaron Rodgers trumps both Mahomes and Donald. Here's the former's resume: four-time regular-season MVP, five-time All-Pro, 10-time Pro Bowler, member of the NFL 2010s All-Decade Team, he's led the league in passer rating four times, passing touchdowns twice and completion percentage once and how about a Super Bowl champ and Super Bowl MVP. Good luck finding another player with that volume of decorations.

Matt Citak: Fact – Aaron Donald was selected 13th overall in the 2014 draft. He went on to win the Defensive Rookie of the Year award in addition to making the Pro Bowl in his first season. In fact, he's made the Pro Bowl every year since while being named First-Team All-Pro seven times, which helped him earn a spot on the NFL 2010s All-Decade Team. Oh yeah, he's also a three-time NFL Defensive Player of the Year. To put it simply, the NFL hasn't seen a player step into the league and immediately dominate at this level since Lawrence Taylor, and the fact that Donald is doing it so consistently as an interior defensive lineman makes it all the more impressive.

View photos of the Giants on the practice field ahead of the Week 17 matchup against the Los Angeles Rams.

Tyrod Taylor will throw multiple touchdowns on Sunday.

John Schmeelk: Fact - With the Rams explosive offense, the Giants are likely going to have to throw the football to keep up. The Rams only rank 16th in the NFL in pass EPA allowed and are very young on defense. They run a lot of stunts and twists, but aside from Donald, they do not have a lot of players with a long history of pressuring the quarterback on their roster. Tyrod Taylor should be able to get something done through the air.

Dan Salomone: Fact – The Giants, with Tyrod Taylor or otherwise, have thrown multiple touchdowns in just four games this season and not since Week 11. That's the case for fiction, which one might be inclined to conclude until noticing that the Rams have allowed three touchdowns in each of their past three games. The Giants have also struggled with early holes, meaning they have to throw the ball more.

Lance Medow: Fiction – Each of the last four quarterbacks that have faced the Rams' defense have thrown for at least two scores, so that certainly bodes well for Taylor's outlook and Los Angeles is far from a shutdown unit given it ranks in the middle of the pack in most categories. However, LA has several players producing in the pressure department, highlighted by rookies Kobie Turner and Byron Young, thanks to the attention Aaron Donald draws and that's the key facet of the game that will determine Taylor's touchdown numbers. When you take those pass rushers into consideration and the Giants only scoring more than 20 points four times in their first 15 games, I'll lean more toward one touchdown than two.

Matt Citak: Fact – Taylor helped spark the offense in the second half of Monday's game against the Eagles, and the veteran quarterback will do the same this Sunday against the Rams. Taylor's ability to throw the deep ball, as we saw with Darius Slayton's 69-yard touchdown last week, will open things up for the entire offense, and it wouldn't surprise me to see them take multiple shots deep down the field. The Rams defense comes into this game having allowed 22 passing touchdowns on the season, the 24th-most in the league, while their run defense has fared much better. The offense is likely going to attack the Los Angeles defense through the air, and Taylor will record his second multiple passing touchdown day of the season.

Darius Slayton will lead the Giants in receiving yards against the Rams.

John Schmeelk: Fiction - It is hard to tell where Tyrod Taylor will try to go with the ball on Sunday give he hasn't started a game since October. Would it surprise me if it was Slayton? No. But I would also not be surprised if it was Jalin Hyatt, Darren Waller or Wan'Dale Robinson. Taylor throws an excellent deep ball to the perimeter, and I could see Hyatt (or Slayton) make a couple of plays over the top.

Dan Salomone: Fact – Slayton is on pace to lead the Giants in receiving for the fourth time in his five NFL seasons. He has been their most consistent receiver in that stretch.

Lance Medow: Fact – In 15 games, only two tight ends have led their teams in receiving yards against the Rams. It's been an opposing wide receiver in the other 13 contests, which is why I can easily see Darius Slayton topping the charts. He seems to have a good rapport with Tyrod Taylor and has led the team in this category in four of the last seven games including each of the last two. Slayton has been by far the most consistent weapon in the receiving corps.

Matt Citak: Fiction – Slayton is coming off his best game of the season as he continues to showcase his abilities as a talented deep threat. While he and Taylor could connect for a deep pass or two against the Rams, Darren Waller will finish the game as the team's leading receiver. In his second week back from the hamstring injury that sidelined him for five games, Waller saw his playing time increase from 42 percent to 63 percent of the team's offensive snaps. With another week removed from the injury, that number should continue to go up. The Rams have allowed 877 receiving yards to tight ends this year, the seventh-most in the league, while their eight touchdowns surrendered to the position are tied for the second-most. The last time Waller and Taylor both played an entire game together back in Week 7, the veteran tight end caught seven passes for 98 yards and a touchdown. Waller could be in for yet another big game this Sunday.

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