Super Bowl Or Bust: The 2009 New York Giants
With a 2007 World Championship in their back pocket, expectations have never been higher for the New York Giants.
Last year was a major disappointment, especially after the Giants marched through the regular season to a No. 1 seed, only to fall to the hated Philadelphia Eagles in the playoffs.
Since then, Defensive Coordinator Steve Spagnuolo has left to take over the St. Louis Rams, RB Derrick Ward left via free agency, and the troubled Plaxico Burress was released amid legal troubles.
There will be new faces all over the field this summer, and to many it may feel like a new era is dawning for the Giants.
In reality, the Giants and their fans will be out for revenge this season. Many of the same players are still leading this team, and with the way last season ended, it may be Super Bowl or bust in 2009.
DE/DT Chris Canty, DT Rocky Bernard, and LB Michael Boley join a veteran defense that will enter the season as possibly the league's best with the return of Osi Umenyiora from injury.
On the offensive side, rookie Hakeem Nicks will try to grow up quickly and fill the void created by Burress, and Ahmad Bradshaw and Danny Ware will have to step up and help Brandon Jacobs maintain the punishing rushing attack that defined the Giants last year.
Barring a rash of injuries, the defense will again be among the league's best. Similarly, the rushing game led by Brandon Jacobs and the Giants offensive line should give Eli Manning plenty of help in controlling the game.
The real question lies at wide receiver, and whether the Giants have the weapons to succeed with the departures of Burress and Amani Toomer.
Steve Smith has proven to be a reliable possession receiver, but is best suited for the slot. Domenik Hixon has overachieved thus far, and it would be foolish to expect big production from him over 16 games.
Sinorice Moss has never lived up to expectations, and Mario Manningham did nothing in his first year. So the task may fall to Hakeem Nicks to be that No. 1 guy, although GM Jerry Reese won't close the door on a possible trade.
Nicks is physically ready for the NFL, and is very polished for a rookie. But he lacks the ideal height you want from a No. 1 guy.
If a trade doesn't happen though, Giants fans will look to Nicks to step up, whether he is ready or not.
So what should the Giants and their fans expect this year?
I've always believed that the fans should take on the attitude of their players. And the players are expecting to win.
It may be unfair to expect a trip to the Super Bowl, especially when the passing game is a complete unknown right now, but this team is built to win now, and this team expects to win now.
In 2007 we saw the defense carry the team to the greatest upset in Super Bowl history.
Is it too much to assume that this year's Giants defense will be better than that group?
I don't think so.
The Giants have yet another brutal schedule in 2009, but led by a ferocious defense and a powerful running attack, they should be in contention yet again.
If they are able to add a player such as Braylon Edwards, or Hakeem Nicks develops like the team hopes, many will consider the Giants to be the outright favorites.
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