The New York Giants have missed the playoffs the past two seasons despite the fact that most people expected them to be playoff bound prior to those seasons.
I'm here to tell you the Giants will make the playoffs this season, if there is a season anyways. Several factors go in to this prediction, and this article is going to highlight the five major reasons.
Justin Tuck made a good point recently when he said the longer the lockout lasts, the more the Giants would have an advantage over a lot of other teams.
They are expected to field pretty much the same team they did last season, with maybe one or two exceptions if they draft an outside linebacker and inside lineman early in the draft.
What does that mean? It means they won't be suffering by missing the off season workouts that teams would normally be going through right now.
Not only that, but this Giants team is relatively young. Ahmad Bradshaw, Kevin Boss, Steve Smith, Kenny Phillips, Terrell Thomas, Mario Manningham, Hakeem Nicks, William Beatty, and Jason Pierre-Paul were all contributors (really JPP was the only non starter) last season and all were in their fourth year or less in the NFL.
They have started to come together and the veterans on this team are making that happen. This team is battle tested and ready to make the next step as an elite team in the NFC.
The 2009 Giants defense was a disgrace, and the changes that Perry Fewell made in 2010 were incredible.
He was helped by two free agent acquisitions Antrel Rolle and Deon Grant, but his schemes and passion are what made the Giants one of the best defenses in the NFL.
Those were growing pains of his first season with the Giants, and with another full year with the team he will make them one of the best in the whole league.
Obviously I cannot predict the future, but the amount of injuries that killed the Giants the past two seasons were random and not suffered by guys who are known to be injury prone.
All the defenders that suffered injuries in 2009 stayed healthy—Mathias Kiwanuka was the only major injury to the defense—but in 2010 the offensive side of the ball took the hit.
Steve Smith, William Beatty, Ramses Barden, Domenik Hixon, Victor Cruz, Hakeem Nicks, Kevin Boss, David Diehl, Shaun O'Hara, and Madison Hedgecock all missed time due to injury, most of them missed significant time.
None of these injuries were serious, other than Barden's, Smith's and Rich Seubert's injury he suffered in the final game of the year, so we can expect all of the Giants to come back healthy and ready to make this offense elite.
Barden claims he is healthy as a horse and Smith's rehab is ahead of schedule. No news on Seubert yet but the Giants are expected to draft a high profile inside lineman in this year's draft in case Seubert cannot go.
If the Giants can avoid the injury bug, they are ready to get back to post season play.
The Giants led the NFL in turnovers last year with 42, but I'm here to tell you that won't happen in 2011.
Eli Manning threw a career high 25 interceptions in 2010; this came after two straight seasons in which it looked like he had fixed his interception problem by throwing only 10 in 2008 and 14 in 2009.
So why the increase? Well, 10 of them were a result of terrible bounces off the hands of his receivers that luckily fell in to the hands of defenders. That rarely happens in the NFL, and with work this offseason (away from the stadium...thanks lockout) Manning and the receivers will correct that problem.
I can think of maybe two that hit the hands of the receivers but the ball was thrown a little high, leaving eight that were just straight drops.
That number is insane and most of the time you can attribute interceptions as the fault of the quarterback, and even those that were towards the end of the season were a result of the Giants having to sign guys off the street to play wide receiver.
With a healthy wide receiving corps and another year with the young group, Manning will not throw so many picks.
The Giants fumbled the ball a lot as well, but Tom Coughlin has fixed those in the past and I'm betting he will this time as well.
Ahmad Bradshaw did not have fumbling problems before, but for some reason he led the NFL with seven fumbles (six lost). That will be fixed this season.
The Giants had a pretty rough schedule in 2010 and still won 10 games. They played the tough NFC North and AFC South—not to mention they are in the toughest division in football, the NFC East.
Well, those NFC East games won't change, but instead of the NFC North they get the easy NFC West. All four of those games are very winnable, with potentially the Rams improving to the only hard test.
The Giants destroyed the Seahawks 41-7 on the road last season, and they won the NFC West.
The AFC East is not really an upgrade or downgrade from the AFC South—both divisions are tough—but if the Giants can go 4-2 against the NFC East (sweep Redskins), 3-1 against the NFC West, and 2-2 against the AFC South, then you're looking at nine wins right there, with games against Green Bay and New Orleans left over.
Win one of those games and you're likely in the playoffs. I see the Giants exacting revenge on the Super Bowl champs at home and getting in to the postseason.