The New York Giants were one of the more prolific offensive teams in the NFL last season, thanks mostly in part to Eli Manning's emergence as a top five quarterback. He exploded for 4.933 yards, sixth most in NFL history.
But who will be the offensive stat leaders for the Giants in 2012? How about on defense? There are many candidates to consider, but the only one you can count on is Eli leading the team in every passing category.
After that it gets pretty cloudy.
Here are my predictions for the top offensive and defensive stat leaders for the Giants in 2012.
I'd be pretty foolish if I did not expect Eli Manning to lead the Giants in passing statistics in 2012. There is always the possibility of an injury, but for "Eli the iron man," it's not very likely.
As far as the actual numbers for Eli, it is harder to predict. He has had more than 4,000 yards every year since 2009, but exploded for nearly 5,000 in 2011. I believe he'll be somewhere in the middle as the Giants hope and expect to get back to running the football like they have in the past.
Rushing Yards Leader: Ahmad Bradshaw
Bradshaw did not have the best year in 2011 while missing games and battling injuries when he did play. Not to mention the offensive line having one of the worst years under head coach Tom Coughlin.
With the offensive line having a full offseason to gel, and the Giants getting a change-of-back in David Wilson, Bradshaw should be able to get back to that 1,000-yard range.
Rushing Touchdown Leader: Bradshaw
Bradshaw led the Giants in touchdowns in 2011 and should do so again in 2012. Wilson, who should be Bradshaw's backup, is a smaller back and the Giants will likely trust Bradshaw more in goal-line situations.
Rushing Yards per Carry Leader: David Wilson
Typically the backup running back will lead the team in yards per carry, especially with the Giants as he'll tend to get more carries in the fourth quarter when the offensive line has wore down the opposing defensive line. Wilson has home run hitter ability, so that should also boost his yards per carry.
Victor Cruz should lead the Giants in all major receiving categories, despite the Giants also having Hakeem Nicks, who is the No. 1 receiver in terms of scheme. Cruz led the Giants in every single major receiving category, and with Nicks suffering a broken foot that could keep him out until the first week of the season, Cruz will develop even more chemistry with Eli Manning.
Obviously teams will be more focused on Cruz this season, but they tried to stop him at the end of last season and that didn't work out too well.
It will take Nicks some time to get going at the beginning of the year, allowing Cruz to rack up the stats.
Sacks: Jason Pierre-Paul
In just his second season, Jason Pierre-Paul led all defensive linemen with 86 tackles and was third with 16.5 sacks. The scary thought is that he could actually improve from year two to year three.
JPP will dominate the NFL once again and lead this team in sacks. He could possibly challenge Michael Strahan's record with Justin Tuck and Osi Umenyiora keeping the pressure off him.
Tackles: Antrel Rolle
Rolle led the Giants in tackles in 2011 with 96 and was second in 2010 with 87. He shined towards the end of last season when Perry Fewell simplified the defense. Rolle rarely comes off the field and is fantastic in run support—no reason to believe anyone else will lead the team in tackles.
Interceptions: Prince Amukamara
The Giants 2011 first-round pick did not get much of a chance to shine last season due to a broken foot, but with a full offseason and playing the nickel corner most likely, he'll see much more of the field in 2012.
Teams stay away from Corey Webster, so the other corners should get plenty of opportunities for interceptions.
Forced Fumbles: Osi Umenyiora
Ever the sack/fumble artist, Osi will get back to doing what he does best now that he is relatively happy after renegotiating his contract. He tied an NFL record with 10 sack fumbles in 2010 and had two more this season (tied for the team lead). As long as he doesn't lose too much playing time to JPP, which he shouldn't, he'll lead the team in this category once again.