NEW YORK GIANTS
At the tail end of the NFC East preview are the New York Giants, a squad hoping to finally conquer their up-and-down trend that has become the norm of past seasons. This is an experienced team with Super Bowl-run potential that could very easily deliver a disappointing season. But, playing in what may be a weakened division this season, now may be the time for the Giants to break their mold of inconsistency.
The Giants go as Eli Manning goes. When Manning is at the top of his game, as he was during the 2011 playoffs, the G-men seem untouchable. On the flipside, when Manning is off, such as during his four-game touchdown drought, his teammates look inexperienced or even lost. The offense has not made many changes in this offseason which may benefit the Giants instead of hindering them. They retained the receiver tandem of Victor Cruz and Hakeem Nicks, while continuing to develop younger role players. They attempted to upgrade the offensive line during the draft, but as with youth, nothing is certain. But, the biggest question mark for New York lies in the running game. After releasing veteran Ahmad Bradshaw in the spring, both Andre Brown and David Wilson will need to step up in order to provide the dominant rushing attack the Giants lacked last year.
The Giants defense last season was nothing past mediocre. They were incredibly inconsistent and, at times, essentially absent. In certain games it almost seemed as though remedial quarterbacks like Brandon Weeden were able to impose their will upon seasoned veterans like Corey Webster. Linebackers have not been a strong suite for the Giants for a long time; don’t expect that to change. The defensive line needs to be the rock that it was during the 2011 championship run if they want to have any hope of slowing down the high-octane offensives of this era. Without the defensive line being a real difference-maker in this upcoming season, look for the Giants to hit a lot of obstacles along the way. However, Perry Fewell’s unit is capable of providing a much-needed spark when the time is right. Maybe they will be able to provide that spark for a sixteen-game stretch.
As uneasy as the Giants seem I have them winning the division with a 10-6 record. The rest of the NFC East seems way too temperamental and raw to challenge the Giants in a season-long stretch. However, they need to address some big holes on the defensive side of the ball. If New York clicks consistently this season, they could be one of the best teams in the league, which is what makes them so very dangerous. It will be interesting to see how they perform in November, a month that has plagued them for quite some time now.