As much as people want to write off the New York Giants and say the last two seasons are indicative of their talent level, there is still much evidence that points to the Giants making a big time Super Bowl run in 2011.
First of all, the lockout has placed several teams at a disadvantage. Those teams that are younger and relying on several rookies to take them to the promised land won't have the luxury of organized OTAs and mini camps.
This means that the learning curve will be much higher for rookies and many of them will be asked to work on their own to get better.
That isn't a good thing for rookies. The NFL is a totally different animal than what they are used to. The language in the playbooks is more complicated, the amount of plays they are expected to be accountable for increases and the speed of the game isn't something they can prepare for without practicing with their teammates.
The Saints have gotten ahead of the curve by having their own team workouts, which around 40 players showed up for, including first-round draft pick Mark Ingram.
The Giants are also looking to get ahead of the game by organizing team activities. Shaun O'Hara, Eli Manning and Justin Tuck have apparently contacted as many guys as they can and have scheduled workouts for sometime in June.
They expect at least the same turnout as the Saints did, maybe even more players.
The reason the Giants have not taken that step yet is because the defensive players are worried about causing injuries—either to themselves or to offensive players. They've argued that their competitive nature would force them to go 110 percent every play and would be dangerous for players on both sides of the ball.
However, even without those workouts, the Giants are already at an advantage because they don't have much rookie turnover. All of their important positions are currently occupied by seasoned veterans, and they won't be relying upon rookies to carry them to the next level, even though they have missed the playoffs the past two seasons.
Even with a ridiculous amount of injuries, the Giants have gone 8-8 and 10-6 in the previous two seasons.
With so many veterans leading the team and with many of them experiencing the horrible taste of losing over the past few seasons, the Giants seem poised to make a deep run in the playoffs.
Another reason they look primed to make a Super Bowl run is their work in the trenches. Both the offensive and defensive lines could arguably make a case for being the best of their class. Even if the Giants don't resign Mathias Kiwanuka or Barry Cofield, they have set themselves up for the future with the drafting of Jason Pierre-Paul, Linval Joseph and Marvin Austin.
The most important aspect of a winning team is the offensive and defensive lines, which is why looking back at previous Super Bowl champs, you will ALWAYS notice the dominant play of those groups in a Super Bowl winner.
The final factor as to why I believe the Giants can make a run through the NFC and win the Super Bowl is their defense.
Bill Parcels made the point very clearly back in the day that you can overcome many offensive obstacles and still win a championship, a notion backed by Super Bowl winners in this decade.
The 2000 Baltimore Ravens and the 2002 Tampa Bay Buccaneers are definitely examples of teams who won Super Bowl championships in spite of their inept offenses. When the Ravens beat the Giants they had the league's 14th-best offense in terms of scoring and the best defense in terms of points allowed.
Similarly, when the Bucs beat the Oakland Raiders they were 18th and 24th in scoring offense and yards per game, respectively, and the best in the NFL in both points allowed and yards allowed.
Taking a look at their own history will show you that the Giants won two Super Bowls because of superior defensive play. The 1990 Giants were one of the best defensive teams of all time, and the 2007 Giants dominated the NFL's best offense ever, to the tune of 14 points allowed and five sacks on MVP Tom Brady.
There are many examples of defenses carrying a team to a championship, and with the addition of Prince Amukamara, I believe the Giants will have one of the best defenses in the NFL.
Although you can point out examples where this is not the case, it is painfully obvious, in most cases, that defense wins championships. As much as Green Bay's offense dominated last season, they would have not even made the playoffs without that great defense.
With one of the best—the best in many analyst's eyes—defensive lines and secondaries in the NFL, it's not hard to see the Giants making a deep run in the NFC playoffs.