The Giants undoubtedly became weaker after the NFL lockout ended. After a disastrous ending to last season in which the Giants missed the playoffs for the second straight year, they will be looking to break into the postseason against the odds.
General manager Jerry Reese all but guaranteed that the Giants would make the playoffs, before backing off of those statements on a radio interview with Michael Kay. The Giants lost a number of key pieces this offseason, primarily Kevin Boss, Prince Amukamara (injury), Rich Seubert, Shaun O'Hara and an injured Steve Smith.
Eli Manning now has to put up with his own statement that he is in the same "class" as Tom Brady. Not to mention the Giants have had to put up with the off-the-field hold-out of Osi Umenyiora and his surgery today.
Tom Coughlin is a lame-duck coach this year, and his job depends on the team making the playoffs. Oh and I forgot, the division improved.
So here are the five reasons the Giants won't be playing football in January this season.
Meet David Baas, who was signed by the Giants to be their new center. The Giants lost a major part of their offensive line this offseason with the release of Shaun O'Hara, Shawn Andrews and Rich Seubert. The Giants offensive line had been getting older, and with the team against the cap, they decided to get younger.
I don't feel as comfortable with the offensive line as I did last year. Will Beaty is a question mark as well as the age of Kareem McKenzie. I do feel comfortable with the right side of the line with McKenzie and Chris Snee, but this leaves the blind-side with questions.
David Koets played center last season after O'Hara got hurt. If he can play center full-time then Baas can move back to his original position of left guard. This leaves David Diehl at left tackle. There are so many variations that it may take a while for the line to gel.
The offensive line produced the sixth-best rushing attack last season. I am not expecting a huge drop-off from that but I don't expect it to be as good. Eli Manning was sometimes left out to dry by the line. My concern is if the line doesn't gel, Brandon Jacobs and Ahmad Bradshaw will suffer. It's hard to elude or run over defenders for a sizable gain when they are in the backfield.
Prince Amukamara was supposed to start at cornerback this season for the Giants as a rookie. When he fractured a bone in his foot, those plans were put on hold for a while. He is out for an undetermined amount of time.
Aaron Ross will start at one of the corner positions. Ross is a solid cornerback and I think he is underrated. Once you get past Ross, there are slim pickings.
Darnell Burks, Joe Burnett, Michael Coe, Brian Jackson, Terrell Thomas, Corey Webster and Brian Witherspoon are the other cornerbacks listed on the Giants' web site. Webster will probably win the other job and Thomas will be the third cornerback, but if one gets injured, the Giants will be in trouble.
The Giants did not address their need at linebacker this offseason. Many expected the Giants to sign Paul Pusluszny from the Bills but they failed to sign him. They did sign Mark Herzlich, who besides from being a heart-warming story, has shown great potential on the field.
The Giants have Michael Boley, Jonathan Goff, Clint Sintim and Zak DeOssie at linebacker. As you can see, there's not much to work with and little depth behind that. Chris Canty could play outside linebacker instead of being on the line.
The Giants strong point on defense is the defensive line. If they can pressure the quarterback, it will make up for their lack of corners and linebackers. However, in a division with Michael Vick, these linebackers will struggle.
Whenever a team has a holdout it is a distraction. Osi Umenyiora's holdout is a major distraction. After refusing to practice and instead riding the bike, then injuring himself and now having surgery, the Giants are having a hard time focusing on football with all of this going on.
Osi claims that he was promised a raise by Jerry Reese last season, and when the promise was not fulfilled, Osi held out. But he didn't hold out by not going to camp. He held out at camp by just not practicing. To me this is a very selfish move by Osi. I understand that he wants to get paid, but then stay away from the facility and let your teammates do their business.
Osi's presence on the field will be missed. Now that he is out three to four weeks because of micro-fracture surgery, it becomes less of a distraction for now. However, when it is time for him to come back, the questions will arise again.
It may not seem like that big of a deal, but these distractions can turn a promising season into a disappointing one (Plaxico shooting himself).
Yes, I do think the Eagles are overrated, but that doesn't mean they aren't going to be good. The Eagles are the front-runners in the NFC East.
Then the Cowboys, in my opinion, will be in competition with the Giants for the wild-card spot and second place in the East, all year. The Giants may not be as good as the Cowboys if Romo and Co. can play up to potential.
Then the Saints, Falcons and Bucs will be battling in the South. I think the Bucs will not be as good as last year because they benefited from a weak schedule. The Falcons and Saints are both playoff teams so there is one wild-card spot already taken.
Then in the North, the Packers are defending Super Bowl champions and may be even better this season. The Bears were in the NFC Championship game last season, and although they exceeded expectations last season, they should still battle for the wild-card spot.
So can the Giants, with their schedule featuring the Eagles twice, Cowboys twice and games against the Jets, Patriots, Packers and Saints, pull off a better record than those teams I just mentioned in the fight for the playoffs?
Can the Giants make the playoffs? Absolutely. They could have us all fooled and exceed expectations. Eli certainly will not have as bad of a season as last year, when he lead the league in interceptions.
But with the conference and division being so tough, and the the Giants glaring weaknesses, I would tend to say that the Giants are on the outside looking in for the playoffs.
And I didn't even mention the loss of Kevin Boss, who was a target of Eli Manning and will be missed tremendously, both for his blocking and receiving abilities.
In actuality, they aren't as good as the Packers, Eagles, Saints or Falcons, which leaves them in a fight with the Bears and Cowboys for the last playoff spot. I don't think they can pull it off.
I predict the Giants have a 9-7 record and miss the playoffs. Tom Coughlin will be fired, unfortunately, and the Giants will look to fix the team next off-season.
Thanks for the read and feel free to comment on the Giants' playoff chances.
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