NFL Predictions: Why the New York Giants Will Repeat as NFC East Champs
After finishing last season 9-7, the New York Giants are coming into this season aiming to win the NFC East again. However, everyone knows their ultimate goal is to repeat as Super Bowl Champions.
If you ask me, New York did not look like they were going to make the playoffs—let alone knock off the competition and become champions.
This year will be different. The pieces to the puzzle are in place, and the Giants will be NFC East Champions. Here's why...
Tom Coughlin Is Still Head Coach
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On June 7, 2012, ESPN.com's Ohm Youngmisuk wrote that Coughlin had received a contract extension from New York keeping him as head coach until at least 2014. That's great news for the Giants, who have captured two titles with Coughlin calling the shots.
Coach Coughlin has a postseason record of 12-7 for a .632 winning percentage. Although four of those wins came as the coach of Jacksonville, it is evident that Coughlin knows what he's doing and has what it takes to coach his guys to victory.
With the contract situation out the way, Coughlin can focus on his team and their play. There shouldn't be any distractions and that will improve the Giants' chances of competing in the NFC.
Eli Is Elite
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Eli Manning has backed up his point that he should be categorized with the elite QB's of the league. Now he's looking to reinforce that statement by taking his Giants to the top of their division and capturing another Super Bowl title.
Eli finished out the season throwing for 4,933 yards and 29 touchdowns. Then in the playoffs, Manning kicked it into gear, completing 106-of-163 for a completion percentage of 65 percent.
There's no reason to believe that Manning's skill set will diminish, causing a regressive season; at the age of 31, Eli's still got some good years in front of him.
Strong Group of Receivers
New York has a group of wideouts capable of starting and competing for the No.1 receiver spot. Instead, Hakeem Nicks, Victor Cruz and Domenik Hixon will be back to lead the way for Big Blue.
Nicks, Cruz and Hixon combined for 2,778 yards. Between the three, they average about 16 yards a catch—does anyone else see how difficult it is for opposing defenders to guard these guys?
Having to contain one of these men is a problem; containing two or even three—depending on the offensive scheme—is an enigma.
Victor Cruz Will Be Even Better
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Victor Cruz will almost certainly be dancing salsa in the end zone more often.
The wide receiver is fast, agile and explodes coming off the line. Last season, Cruz had 82 receptions for 1,536 yards and nine touchdowns—not bad for the 25-year-old's third season. He killed defenders when he lined up in the slot, and on numerous occasions he turned short gains into touchdowns and celebrated with a dance.
I expect Cruz to pick up where he left off in Week 1, as the Giants are set to square off with their division rival Dallas Cowboys.
Defense, Defense, Defense
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It's been said over and over again for over a decade: "Defense wins championships."
The Giants have a really good pass-rush defense, and with Jason Pierre-Paul coming back to wreak havoc, you can bet New York will be dominant this year. Let's not forget that Big Blue will have a healthy Osi Umenyiora and Justin Tuck in the faces of offensive lines.
I expect defensive coordinator Perry Fewell to work his guys to the core; I also believe D-line Coach Robert Nunn will emphasize to his guys that the pressure has to be on opposing quarterbacks. This will improve the Giants' record and put them at the helm of the NFC East.
Terrell Thomas' Return Boosts the Secondary
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Terrell Thomas was absent all of last season with a torn ACL that he suffered during the preseason. Having him back, manning the corner spot, will strengthen New York's biggest weakness last season: the secondary.
In an article from the Daily News' Ebenezer Samuel, we're informed that after a little setback, Terrell Thomas feels fine. In the article, Samuel mentions Coach Coughlin's insight.
“He feels very positive about it. He told me before he left (to meet Andrews), he really doesn’t have any pain, does not feel any instability. The knee was not swollen. He went down and Dr. Andrews pretty much agreed with what the other doctors said.”
This is great news for the Giants because they cannot afford to lose Thomas. Surely, a strong secondary makes a strong defense, and defense is what puts an L in opposing loss columns.
Cowboys and Eagles Won't Come Back as Strong as New York
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No disrespect to the Redskins, but New York's biggest concerns are the four games against Dallas and Philly—two of the four games come in September. The Giants need both the Cowboys and Eagles to come off weak. Last season, Dallas started 2-2 while Philly was 1-3. New York will have the opportunity to add to both of their loss columns in September as they are schedule to face the Cowboys in Week 1 and Philly in Week 4.
Both opposing quarterbacks (Tony Romo and Mike Vick) are coming off injury-ridden seasons. Eli, on the other hand, just won a Super Bowl; it's clear the momentum is already in his favor.
If New York can win both these games by a good margin, they could boost their confidence as favorites for the NFC. If they can win four of the six games against the NFC East, they're campaigning for the No. 1 spot in the division—and I think it will happen.
The Bye Week Comes at a Perfect Time
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New York gets their bye week during Week 11. Following the break, the Giants will host Green Bay and New Orleans before flying out to Atlanta and Baltimore. They'll return home to host Philadelphia for the last game of the season.
Seems like a difficult schedule, but the Giants are capable of winning these games if they can stay healthy, especially after being a bit rested.
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I think the Giants will close out the season with an 11-5 record.
With a great offense and a revived defense, New York will look to dominate the competition. Their head coach is proven, their quarterback is seeking more success and the franchise is motivated for another title.
New York has what it takes to claim the NFC East.