The New York Giants have undergone some significant changes in the short two years since their Super Bowl victory over the Patriots. One embarrassing loss, one receiver in jail, another to Kansas City and one defensive coordinator to St. Louis later and the Giants are looking at a number of question marks coming into the 2009 campaign. Here are 10 bold predictions for the Big Blue this season.
I found it appropriate with the no. 1 spot, to start with the Giants no. 1 pick. Nicks was drafted in hopes of filling the gaping hole left by Plaxico Burress as well as Amani Toomer. While a hamstring injury sidelined Nicks for much of the start of training camp, against the Jets he showed just why he was taken 29th overall.
He caught two TD's from David Carr of 22 and 71 yards. I believe that if he is able to continue with this big play potential, he will prove to be that no. 1 receiver the Giants hoped he would. I also wouldn't be surprised if he crashes fantasy football servers with people trying to pick him up.
Brandon Jacobs is a beast. Let's just be straight up about it. Rushing for 1,089 yards in '08, "Earth" is the heart and soul of the Giants offensive attack. Jacobs just rolls over defenders, most memorably on the first play of the 2007 NFC Championship game when he went through Charles Woodson and the opening game in '08 against Washington going through LaRon Landry.
Jacobs is dominant, but without "Wind", Derrick Ward who went to Tampa Bay in free agency, he'll have to get some more consistent help from "Fire", Ahmad Bradshaw the third year back out of Marshall. Bradshaw's speed is a great change-up from Jacobs' physicality. The Giants could have one of the best 1-2 running tandems in the NFC, if not the NFL.
Tuck really had to come into his own after Michael Strahan's retirement and Osi Umenyoria's injury last season. He was the biggest threat on the Giants D-Line and he was often doubled-up on; and he still recorded 12 sacks.
The Giants defense has ridiculous depth with the arrival of Chris Canty from Dallas and Michael Boley from Atlanta. Defensive coordinator Bill Sheridan will look to keep Tuck fresh and with Umenyoria back on the line, Tuck could be even more dangerous this season.
The Giants start off the season at home against the Redskins but then go on the road for three straight games: at Dallas, at Tampa Bay and at Kansas City. The Giants thrived on the "road warrior" mentality in their 2007 Super Bowl run and they will have to return to that thought process very early this season. I predict the Giants will go 3-0 on the swing.
It's the last year of the Meadowlands before the Giants and Jets head across the parking lot to the New Giants Stadium for the 2010 season. With the 50th Anniversary of the AFL throwbacks going on, the Giants should don the "GIANTS" on the helmets as they did back in the days of Phil Simms and Lawrence Taylor. Just for fun. This prediction almost certainly won't come true, but it's bold!
It was Monkey-See, Monkey-Do earlier in the pre-season. Not too long after the time when Eli Manning signed a six-year, $97 million contract with $35 million in guarantees, Phillip Rivers, who of course the Giants traded to San Diego to get Manning, signed a six-year contract worth $92 million with $38-$39 million in guaranteed coin.
So in Week 9 when the 'Bolts and Giants meet, there will two of the highest paid players in the game under center. The last time Manning and Rivers faced off, Manning threw for 352 yards and two touchdowns, but the Chargers won 45-23. Manning will be looking for payback when Rivers and San Diego comes to the Meadowlands. I predict a NYG win.
Kenny Phillips, the Giants 1st round pick in 2008 out of Miami, has been a rising star in the eyes of the Giants coaching staff and fans alike this preseason. With the departure of James Butler to St. Louis, the safety spot is his for the taking. He is fast, has good instincts and has been making a name for himself during training camp with his interceptions.
Don't be surprised if number 21 in Giant Blue makes his way to Miami.
Defense wins championships and arguably won the Giants the championship in 2007. With Tuck, Umenyiora, Phillips, Canty, Boley, Antonio Pierce, Aaron Ross, Jay Alford, Fred Robbins...the list goes on. Rookie LB Clint Sintim out of Virginia has looked sharp as well. This defense has ridiculous depth and a lot of talent as well as experience. I think this is a top five defense for sure, if not the best defensive unit in football.
The $97 million man, yes, he might have a questionable receiving corps. However, Eli has gotten through adversity before and almost seems to excel in it. I believe that Hixon, Smith and Manningham as well as Nicks are going to step up and be the receiving corps Eli needs to be a threat down the field. Eli will get things done this season and make his second straight Pro Bowl.
They have the talent. They have the experience. They have the grit and moxie. Perhaps my boldest prediction is that with a stout defense, a monster running game and a passing game that very well could take much of the league by surprise, the Giants will win the Super Bowl in Miami this season.