The Giants won the Super Bowl in 2011, but failed to make the playoffs in 2012. What happened? Well, nothing really. Their win total didn’t change at all, but while 9 wins allowed them to sneak into the playoffs and eventually take it the distance in 2011, 9 wins had them on the outside looking in last season. It was as I predicted before the season and just a reminder that the Giants were not an elite team, but rather a good team capable of getting hot and going the distance (as they’ve done on 2 occasions). In fact, in 9 seasons of the Eli Manning/Tom Coughlin era, they’ve surpassed 10 wins just twice. If they had made the playoffs in 2012, they would have been one of the scarier teams in the post-season on their sheer level of unpredictability, but, at the end of the day, they didn’t.
You could actually argue that they played better in 2012 than in 2011, at least regular season wise. They scored more and allowed fewer points in the 2012 season than in 2011, as they improved their offensive output from 24.8 points per game to 26.8 points per game and improved their defense from 25.0 points per game allowed to 21.5 points per game allowed. While they had a Pythagorean Expectation of 8 wins in 2011, allowing roughly the same amount of points as they scored, in 2012, they had a Pythagorean Expectation of 10 wins, 9th best in the NFL and behind only Chicago in terms of non-playoff teams. They also ranked 7th in DVOA.
Usually that is a predictor of a future increase of wins and on top of that, they did so despite a lot of injuries, ranking 25th in the NFL in adjusted games lost. However, there are a few reasons why they won’t have a big wins increase. For one, while they suffered a lot of injuries last year, none of them were to key contributors, which the exception of Hakeem Nicks and Kenny Phillips, the latter of whom is no longer with the team.
They didn’t lose anyone like Jason Pierre-Paul to injury, but that’s a real concern for them going into 2013 as, in June, JPP had the same back procedure that everyone is freaking out that Gronk had. He’s in doubt for the first month of the season and, unlike Hakeem Nicks, his absence can’t be masked by Eli Manning and strong receiving depth. After Manning, JPP is their most indispensible player and they already have concerns about his health and the season hasn’t started yet. They also had the oft injured William Beatty healthy last season and playing well at the all-important left tackle position, but that might not continue considering he played just 1261 snaps in his first 3 seasons combined due to injury.
They also were really reliant on winning the turnover battle in 2012, with a +14 turnover differential. That tends to be inconsistent on a year-to-year basis, however. For example, teams with 20 or fewer turnovers on average turn the ball over 25.5 times the following season, while teams that turn the ball over 35 or more times turn the ball over 28.1 times the following season. Teams with 20 or fewer takeaways take the ball away an average of 25.3 times the following season, while teams with 35 or more takeaways take the ball away an average of 27.3 times the following season. Teams with a turnover differential of +15 or higher have a turnover differential of +3.6 the following season, while teams with a turnover differential of -15 have a turnover differential of +1.5 the following season.
Winning the turnover battle was a big part of the reason why they were able to rank 12th in the NFL in opponent’s scoring, allowing 21.5 points per game, despite serious issues in their defensive back 7. Those issues haven’t really been fixed this season and things could be even worse if JPP has to miss significant time with injury. They’ll be a better team than they were last season and I don’t doubt they’ll be able to match the 26.8 points per game they scored last season, especially if Nicks can stay healthy, but their issues defensively could keep them out of the playoffs in the absolutely loaded NFC. Their chances of winning the NFC East, the NFC’s weakest division, might be better than their chances of winning a wild card spot.
Eli Manning proved he’s an elite quarterback by winning his 2nd Super Bowl, but as far as elite quarterbacks go, he’s on the lower end of the spectrum. He rarely posts huge regular season numbers like Aaron Rodgers, Drew Brees, Tom Brady, or his brother Peyton, or huge win totals, and the Giants have only once ranked in the top-5 in scoring offense.
In 11 years as a starter, Tom Brady has missed the playoffs once and won a playoff game in all but 3 years. Peyton Manning has missed the playoffs just twice in his 14 season long NFL career, though he has suffered 8 exits without a postseason win. Aaron Rodgers, though more inexperienced than the quarterbacks already mentioned, has missed the playoffs once in his 5 year NFL career and won at least won playoff game twice in those five years, the same amount as Eli Manning has in 9. Eli Manning has had two incredible six week stretches in his career, leading to those 2 Super Bowls, and I’m sure the Giants wouldn’t trade 2 Super Bowls in 5 years for anything, but there’s something to be said for consistency and consistent excellence.
He’s a very good quarterback capable of getting hot and taking a team the distance and he’s incredibly scary because you never know what you’re getting from him, he makes throws that are near impossible, more so than maybe any other quarterback in the NFL, he can come back from any hole, and he’s at his best when he’s doubted.
He’s also a big part of the reason why the Giants have frequent 2nd half swoons. Since Tom Coughlin took over in 2004, the same season as Eli Manning became the starter, the Giants are 53-19 in the first 8 games of the season and 30-42 in the second 8 games of the season. Eli Manning is not completely to blame, but his numbers are noticeably worse in the 2nd half of the season. His completion percentage drops about 3%. His YPA drops about 7/10ths of a yard per attempt. And his touchdown to interception ratio goes from 111/61 to 100/83.
This year, he completed 62.6% of his passes in the first half of the season, as opposed to 56.6% in the 2nd half, while averaging 7.8 YPA to 6.8. Only his touchdown to interception ratio (12/8 to 14/7) was improved in the 2nd half of the season. He once again had a strong season overall and you can’t really blame the Giants’ failure to make the playoffs on him, but he didn’t drag the Giants into the playoffs like the aforementioned trio has in the past.
Wide Receivers/Tight Ends
One of the reasons why, in 2012, Eli led the Giants to the most points he’s ever led the Giants to in his career is his strong receiving corps. Even with Hakeem Nicks essentially missing 4 games and being limited in others, playing just 683 snaps and catching just 53 passes for a career low 692 yards and 3 touchdowns, the Giants still surrounded Eli with good receivers. Everyone knows about Victor Cruz. He didn’t match the 82 catches for 1536 yards and 9 touchdowns he had in 2011, but it would have been unreasonable to expect him to do that. He still caught 86 passes for 1092 yards and 10 touchdowns and he could do even better than that this season. His one issue last season was his 12 drops.
In Nicks’ absence, Domenik Hixon, Rueben Randle, and Ramses Barden combined for 72 catches for 1085 yards and 5 touchdowns. Hixon is gone, but Randle should be improved as the clear #3 receiver in his 2nd season in the NFL, after going in the 2nd round in the 2012 NFL Draft. Louis Murphy and Barden will serve as solid depth receivers. Randle will give them 3 talented wide receivers with Cruz and Nicks, assuming the latter can stay healthy. Remember, he averaged 78 catches for 1122 yards and 9 touchdowns per season in 2010 and 2011 despite missing 4 combined games in those 2 seasons. He’s never played a full 16 game set and I wouldn’t expect that to change this season, but I like his chances to get back over 1000 yards and give the Giants two 1000 yard receivers.
Tight end Martellus Bennett is gone and he was one of the better all-around tight ends in the NFL last season, but they’ve signed Brandon Myers to replace him and he should be able to do so coming over from Oakland. The Raiders had one of the least talented rosters in the NFL last season thanks to a decade of poor drafting and recent salary cap hell. One of several positions without a clear proven starter for the Raiders last year was tight end. When 4th year tight end Brandon Myers, a 2009 6th round pick, won the starting job, he was described as a decent blocker and little else and for good reason.
He had just 32 career catches in his 3 year career to that point, including just 7 in 5 starts in place of an injured Kevin Boss the year before. He wasn’t a premium draft pick, going in the 6th round and he didn’t have special athleticism. After not being invited to The Combine, he ran a 4.79 40 at 6-3 250 at his Pro Day in 2009, with a 31 inch vertical and 17 reps of 225.
However, Myers really surprised as a pass catcher, catching 79 passes for 804 yards and 4 touchdowns, leading the team in receiving ahead of bigger names like Darrius Heyward-Bey and Denarius Moore. He did this on just 101 targets, a very impressive 78% catch rate, and he was sure handed, dropping just 6 passes. He ranked 8th among eligible tight ends in terms of yards per route run.
While he managed just 10.2 yards per catch, and 3.6 yards after the catch per catch, both towards the bottom of the league, he did break 8 tackles and, because of his high catch rate, the Raiders actually averaged a very impressive 8.0 YPA throwing to Myers last year, over a full yard over the 6.8 YPA Raider quarterbacks averaged on the season. Overall, Raider quarterbacks had a 100.7 QB rating when throwing to Myers, well above their overall 82.5 rating.
Surprisingly, the one area Myers really struggled with was blocking, both pass and run blocking, which was supposed to be the only thing he was good at. No tight end graded out worse as a run blocker on ProFootballFocus than Myers, which actually led to him being the 2nd worst rated overall tight end, despite his great play in the passing game. However, it was revealed after the season he played most of last year with a sprained AC joint in his left shoulder, which really effected his blocking. With an off-season to heal, he should do a better job of blocking in 2013.
Myers hit the open market this off-season and did not command a big deal, signing for just 2.25 million over 1 year in New York with the Giants. One of the things that is noteworthy is that Giants tight end coach the legendary Mike Pope requires his tight ends to be great blockers to get on the field so the fact that they signed him and are listing him as a starter is a good sign for his ability to bounce back as a blocker.
One other thing about New York and tight ends that is noteworthy is that Giants tight ends always seem to be productive in the passing game, regardless of who they are. Mike Pope is a big part of the reason for this, as is the offensive system and Eli Manning’s tendency to throw to the tight end. The Giants took Jeremy Shockey in the 1st round in 2002 and turned him into one of the league’s best tight ends.
Injuries didn’t allow him to play a full 16 game set in 6 seasons with the Giants, but he averaged 70 catches for 796 yards and 5 touchdowns per 16 games, back before the days of tight ends really putting up huge numbers. For his efforts, he was named to the Pro-Bowl 4 times in 6 seasons. However, when he got hurt down the stretch in their eventual Super Bowl winning 2007 season, a no name rookie named Kevin Boss took over and did well enough for the Giants to win without Shockey.
Boss ended up driving Shockey out of town that off-season, as the Giants got a 2nd and 5th round pick for him from the Saints, a good haul. The Saints, however, would not get what they paid for, as Shockey last just 3 years in New Orleans, averaging 59 catches for 615 yards and 3 touchdowns per 16 games despite Drew Brees throwing him the ball. He spent a final nondescript season in Carolina in 2011 before being forced to retire (technically he hasn’t retired, but if you’ve been out of the league for at least a year, you’re essentially retired) at age 31, due to lack of interest in his services around the league.
Boss, meanwhile, did a solid job filling in for Shockey, averaging 39 catches for 527 yards and 6 touchdowns per 16 games in 3 years as a starter, despite being just a 5th round pick in 2007. He earned himself a multiyear deal in Oakland and lasted just one year before getting cut. He then went to Kansas City, where the same thing happened and now he remains a free agent at just age 29, after 31 catches in the last 2 years combined.
Boss was replaced by Jake Ballard, a similar player, a blocker first that put up surprising pass catching numbers in 2011, catching 38 passes for 604 yards and 4 touchdowns. After he tore his ACL in the Giants’ Super Bowl victory, the Giants waived him and replaced him with Martellus Bennett. Bennett was a former 2nd round pick of the Cowboys, but largely a blocker first who had caught just 85 passes for 848 yards and 4 touchdowns in 4 seasons. Bennett nearly matched those numbers in his one year in New York, catching 55 passes for 626 yards and 5 touchdowns, before signing a multiyear deal with the Bears, only to be replaced by Myers on the cheap.
Myers now comes to New York as the most NFL proven tight end they’ve brought to the team in at least over a decade and he should be able to continue to get his in the passing game as the 3rd option after Victor Cruz and Hakeem Nicks. Assuming he also bounces back as a blocker, by the end of the season, we may be able to call Myers one of the most complete all-around tight ends in the NFL. Not bad for a 6th round pick with limited athleticism. Even if Nicks misses some time again, Eli has plenty of players to talented players to throw to.
One of the other things that led to the Giants scoring a bunch of points in 2012 was the rebirth of their running game. In 2012, at least in the regular season, they ranked dead last in rushing yards and yards per carry, thanks to injuries Ahmad Bradshaw and Brandon Jacobs playing through injuries. However, in 2012, Bradshaw turned things around and power back Andre Brown emerged as a good complement to Bradshaw. Bradshaw is gone now, but 2012 1st round pick David Wilson will take over his old role and split carries with Brown.
Brown rushed for 385 yards on 73 carries and also scored 8 times as the short yardage power back. He should get more carries this year because the coaching staff doesn’t 100% trust David Wilson yet and because Brown is the better passing down back. Brown could get double digit touchdowns this season, though Wilson will probably lead the team in rushing yards. Wilson showed a lot of explosiveness as a rookie, especially on special teams, but he only got 71 carries. That should be closer to 200 this season. Brown and Wilson will serve as a strong complement to the passing game.
The Giants really improved their offensive line play in 2012. After ranking 32nd on ProFootballFocus on pass protection, 25th in run blocking, and 32nd in pass blocking efficiency in 2011, they ranked 18th in pass protection, 4th in run blocking, and 26th in pass block efficiency in 2012. There were several big differences. One of the best differences was William Beatty staying healthy at left tackle. As I mentioned in the opening, Beatty, a 2009 2nd round pick, played just 1261 snaps in his first 3 seasons in the NFL, but he put it all together in his contract year in 2012, playing all 16 games and graded out as ProFootballFocus’ 12th ranked offensive tackle. I have questions about whether or not he can keep that up, especially now that he has long-term security with a 5-year contract.
Meanwhile, at left guard, Kevin Boothe had a breakout season in his first full season as a starter, grading out as ProFootballFocus’ 20th ranked guard. He’s already going into his age 30 season though and had never done anything like that in the past, struggling in limited action as a reserve throughout his career. Let’s see if he can do that again. Center David Baas and right guard Chris Snee also had much improved seasons in 2012. Snee’s poor 2011 season looks like the outlier in his career and, going into his age 31 season, he should once again be an above average starter. Baas, meanwhile, has been up and down in his career, playing both center and guard. He’s an average interior offensive starter at best.
Right tackle was the only spot on the line where they struggled last season, with Sean Locklear and David Diehl splitting time. In order to fix this problem, they drafted Justin Pugh in the first round. Pugh is a very accomplished collegiate left tackle, but was expected to fall out of the first round because of short arms. The Giants took him anyway and insisted they didn’t believe his short arms caused a problem on tape. They won’t be as big of an issue on the right side, but he may still end up at guard long term. Overall, it’s a talented offensive line, but it has a lot of questions and they should play somewhere between where they played in 2011 and 2012. They’ll once again score a bunch of points in 2013.
I mentioned how Jason Pierre-Paul is the Giants 2nd most indispensible player after Eli Manning. The common belief is that he had a down season in 2012, when he had 7 sacks, after having 16 in 2011. However, that’s the trouble with just looking at sack numbers. He wasn’t really worse as a pass rusher at all with 4 hits and 43 hurries on 523 pass rush snaps, to go with those 7 sacks, a 10.3% pass rush rate. In 2011, he had those 16 sacks, but just 14 hits and 26 hurries on 580 pass rush snap, a pass rush rate of 9.7%. In terms of pass rush efficiency (sacks + .75 hits + .75 hurries per 100 snaps), he was at 8.4 in 2012, better than the 8.2 he was at in 2011. He was also a better run stopper in 2012 than 2011. He was good in 2011, grading out as ProFootballFocus’ 5th ranked 4-3 defensive end against the run, but he led the position in that aspect in 2012.
Overall, he was ProFootballFocus’ 6th ranked 4-3 defensive end in 2011 and 4th ranked in 2012. If he misses more than a couple of games, they’ll really miss him and it will really hurt if he doesn’t come back at 100%. They have a lot of defensive end depth because that’s GM Jerry Reese’s thing, but JPP’s potential absence will compromise their ability to run their signature 3 and 4 defensive end sets, where JPP and/or Justin Tuck line up inside at defensive tackle.
After Jason Pierre-Paul, they have Tuck, Mathias Kiwanuka, and Damontre Moore. Tuck has had back-to-back down regular seasons after grading out as ProFootballFocus’ 10th ranked 4-3 defensive end in 2010 and he didn’t carry his strong 2011 post-season into last season. He’s really been around a league average player over the past 2 seasons, last season grading out slightly above average against the run, but slightly below average rushing the passer, with 4 sacks, 8 hits, and 20 hurries on 390 pass rush snaps, 8.2%, and only playing 662 snaps overall. Injuries have sapped his abilities and going into his age 30 contract year, I don’t see him getting much better. This might be his last season with the team.
Osi Umenyiora is gone, but he was really a league average player as well of late. Mathias Kiwanuka, a tweener linebacker/defensive end, will move back to the defensive line this year full time, playing there on all downs, rather than just passing downs. His passing down role won’t change and he had 3 sacks, 5 hits, and 14 hurries on 246 pass rush snaps, a mediocre 8.9% rate. On running downs, he could really struggle on the line. Despite his size at 265, he was a below average run stopping linebacker last season and moving to the line won’t help that. For what it’s worth, he was great as a run stopping linebacker in 2011, but his best role will be as a situational rusher and nothing more.
Moore is a 3rd round pick rookie. At one time, he was seen by the draftnik community as a top-5 pick as 20-year-old coming off an incredibly productive season at Texas A&M, but off the field concerns, character concerns, and athleticism concerns sunk his stock all the way to the 3rd round. He’ll be a pure sub package rusher as a rookie, but he could have to see significant snaps early in the season if JPP misses any games.
Because of how often their defensive ends move inside to defensive tackle, the Giants’ defensive tackles don’t play as many snaps as most teams’ defensive tackles. That being said, they still have a good one in Linval Joseph, a 2010 2nd round pick. Joseph has graded out above average in the last 2 seasons as a starter, ranking 21st among defensive tackles in 2012. Opposite him, they had issues last season. Chris Canty was limited to just 9 games with injuries and the 33-year-old Rocky Bernard played above average on 396 snaps, 2nd most among Giant defensive tackles.
Canty and Bernard are gone and have been replaced with two former Eagle veterans. The first is Cullen Jenkins, who is going into his age 32 season. He gets washed against the run, but had 4 sacks, 1 hit, and 25 hurries on 388 pass rush snaps, a 7.7% pass rush rate. He’ll be best in a rotational role and he’s not getting any younger, but he’ll be an asset for them. The other one is Mike Patterson, who was limited to 136 snaps last season because of brain surgery. He was ProFootballFocus’ 20th ranked defensive tackle in 2011, but going into his age 30 season, his best days should be behind him. He’ll be a rotational player as well.
The Giants also have a pair of recent 2nd round picks in the mix, giving them 3 recent 2nd round picks at defensive tackle (including Joseph). Johnathan Hankins is a 2nd round pick rookie who will play a situational role stopping the run at 319 pounds as a rookie. Marvin Austin is the other one, but for a variety of different reasons, he’s played just 109 snaps in the last 3 seasons, dating back to his final season at North Carolina, when he was suspended for the whole season. He might be on the roster bubble.
The Giants were once known as one of the best pass rush teams in the NFL, but last year they were just ProFootballFocus’ 14th ranked pass rush team and they could be even worse this season if Jason Pierre-Paul misses significant time with injury. He’s really the only above average player on this line (with the exception of maybe Linval Joseph), though he is a true blue chip stud when healthy and they have a lot of decent rotational players.
With Mathias Kiwanuka moving to the defensive line and Chase Blackburn and Michael Boley both gone, the Giants are returning none of their three starting linebackers from 2012. That’s not such a bad thing. They didn’t play that well (there’s a reason Boley is still a free agent and Blackburn is a reserve/special teamer in Carolina). Kiwanuka and Boley ranked 38th and 41st out of 43 eligible 4-3 outside linebackers last season and Blackburn ranked 43rd out of 53 eligible middle linebackers. However, none of the 6 candidates for the 3 open spots are that good either.
Keith Rivers is the most experienced of the group. A 2008 1st round pick, he was once a solid linebacker in Cincinnati, but injuries derailed his career (he missed 29 games from 2008-2011) and the Bengals sent him to the Giants for a late round pick last off-season. He graded out negatively on 238 snaps last season as a reserve with the Giants last season. Aaron Curry is another former 1st round pick linebacker. He struggled mightily with the Seahawks for 2 ½ years before being sent to the Raiders for a late round pick. After a mediocre half season there in 2011, he played just 18 snaps with them last season thanks to injuries.
At middle linebacker, Dan Connor was a reserve in Carolina for 4 seasons and did well in limited action when injuries struck. He was signed by the Cowboys to a multiyear deal to be a starter last off-season, but lost to Bruce Carter in the battle for the job in the pre-season and barely played before being cut this off-season and snatched up by the Giants. He’ll battle Mark Herzlich for the starting job. Herzlich had his collegiate career derailed by cancer, which is the only reason why he went undrafted in 2011, but he’s cancer free and he’s done well to stay on the Giants roster over the past 2 seasons, though he did grade out negatively on 176 snaps last season.
The other two linebackers are Jacquian Williams and Spencer Paysinger, both from the 2011 draft class, Williams as a 6th rounder and Paysinger as an undrafted free agent. Paysinger has played nondescript 187 snaps as a reserve in 2 seasons and, while Williams made a few starts as a rookie, he’s graded out negatively on 814 career snaps. These 6 will do battle for 3 spots and I’d be surprised if more than one took a starting job and did even an average job. It’s a group without a lot of talent.
Things aren’t much better in the secondary as they had ProFootballFocus’ 110th and 111th ranked cornerbacks out of 113 eligible last season. Corey Webster was #110, allowing 59 catches on 96 attempts for 988 yards, 8 touchdowns, and 4 interceptions, while deflecting 7 passes and committing 6 penalties. Jayron Hosley was #111, allowing 33 catches on 47 attempts for 467 yards, 4 touchdowns, and 1 interception, while deflecting 2 passes and committing 4 penalties.
Webster has been better in the past and could be better this season, but he’s also going into his age 31 season so his best days are probably behind him. Hosley was a 3rd round rookie and could be better in his 2nd season in the league, but he might not be. After all, he was just a 3rd rounder and 3rd round picks turn into starters just about 30% of the time, so I don’t have huge expectations for them.
With Webster slipping, Prince Amukamara has been the de facto #1 cornerback. In his first full season as a starter after missing most of his rookie year with injuries, Amukamara played pretty well in 12 games (he missed 4 with more injuries), grading out about league average, allowing 33 catches on 63 attempts for 375 yards, 2 touchdowns, and 1 interception, while deflecting 4 passes and committing 4 penalties. Going into his 3rd year in the league, the 2011 1st round pick could have his best year in 2013, but he needs to stay healthy first. Webster and Amukamara will start with Hosley once again serving as the 3rd cornerback, focusing on the slot.
Hosley could see more playing time than the 465 snaps he played last season because he’ll probably be the sole nickel back. Last season, when Kenny Phillips was healthy, Antrel Rolle would play there on passing downs, allowing the Giants to get 3 safeties on the field. Rolle played better in that role down around the line of scrimmage rather than back as a safety, but with Phillips now in Philadelphia, he’ll probably focus on being more of a true safety this year. After ranking in the bottom 10 among eligible safeties in 2010 and 2011, Rolle “improved” in 2012 and ranked 63rd out of 88 eligible. He’s an overrated and overpaid player who especially struggles in coverage. Going into his age 31 season, things won’t get better and they’ll probably get worse considering his past.
Stevie Brown served as the 3rd safety with Rolle and Phillips (who played incredibly well whenever he was healthy) last year and when Phillips got hurt, Brown stepped up big time as a starter in his absence. He’ll be a full time starter this year. He probably won’t repeat the 8 interceptions he had last season (remember how inconsistent turnovers are) and it’s important not to grade players purely on what they do on 8 snaps, but Brown graded out above average on 846 snaps last year, excelling in coverage, struggling a bit against the run and not committing a penalty in his first season of real action. We’ll have to see if he can keep it up. Will Hill is also in the mix and could serve as the 3rd safety, moving Rolle to the slot on passing downs, if they feel the need to do that. Hill has a checkered past, but graded out positively on 218 snaps as an undrafted rookie last season.
Overall though, it’s a very poor back 7. They ranked 31st in the NFL allowing 8.1 yards per attempt this season and I don’t know why they’d be much improved over that this season. They also won’t force as many turnovers as they did last season, which they were really reliant on to get stops last season. This figures to be a worse defensive team than they were last season and that’s what will stop them from having a big win improvement.
Tom Coughlin is one of the longest tenured Head Coaches in the NFL and the Giants have largely taken on his identity. While he’s often been written off by the media as someone who will be fired after the season after yet another late season swoon, he always comes back and the Giants have always had solid seasons under his leadership, including the two Super Bowls which have probably earned him job security for life. It’s tough to lead non-elite regular season teams all the way to a Super Bowl victory, getting the team to believe in the seemingly impossible, but Coughlin has done so twice. This season should be no different for him. They’ll be a solid team that competes for a playoff spot and they may have a stronger 1st than 2nd half. If they get in the playoffs, they’ll once again be scary.
I’ll predict the Giants season in two halves since they pretty much always fade in the 2nd half of the season. They have 3 divisional games in the first half of the season, both games against Philadelphia and a game in Dallas. They should win both Philadelphia games, but a trip to Dallas will be tougher, though they’re actually a better road team than home team. They should go 2-1 or 3-0 in those 3 games. Outside the division, they host Denver and Minnesota, two games they should split. They also have trips to Carolina, Kansas City, and Chicago. Those are 3 good teams, but they’re a good road team so I’ll give them 2 wins in those if I have them at 2-1 (or 1 win if I have them at 3-0) in the 3 divisional games and 1-1 in the other 2 games, putting them at 5-3 going into a conveniently placed week 9 bye.
After the bye, they have a home game against Dallas and both games against Washington in the division, and I think they’ll go 1-2 in those 3 games, putting them at 3-3 or 4-2 in the division. They host Green Bay, Oakland, and Seattle. Oakland should be a win and they should split the Green Bay/Seattle games. Seattle isn’t a good road team and that’s an early start. That puts them at 8-6 with games in San Diego and Detroit. I think they could win both of those games, which puts them at 9 or 10 wins, which sounds about right. I have them just below Dallas in the division and losing out in a tough Wild Card battle in the NFC.
Projection: 9-7 2nd in the NFC East