Despite the many questions surrounding the 2011 version of the New York Giants, you simply can't count them out yet.
The negatives are obvious. The schedule is vicious at times. The revamped Eagles are in the same division. Kevin Boss and Steve Smith are gone. Osi Umenyiora isn't ready to play.
And the list goes on.
But this is the game of football, and no other sport is as unpredictable as this one is. The Giants themselves can prove this by showing you a time line of their 2007 season. They began with just as many questions and ended as Super Bowl champions.
They beat the 18-0 New England Patriots in that game.
Many laughed at the comparison. Critics pounced all over Eli as if he were speaking blasphemy. But let's take a look at the numbers.
Interceptions: Eli, 25. Brady, four.
That is a huge difference. In the end however, football as with every sport, depends heavily on film to improve. Watch Eli throw his 25 interceptions. There is a shared accountability for those interceptions. Eli needs to improve with his offense core, not alone.
What about the other numbers?
Tom Brady's line: 65.9 comp pct, 3,900 yards, 36 TDs and a passer rating of 95.2.
Eli Manning's line: 62.9 comp pct, 4,002 yards, 31 TDs and a passer rating of 85.3.
That is pretty close for two quarterbacks whom critics have been trying to distance since Eli put himself in the same company.
There are questions on offense with the departure of Kevin Boss and Steve Smith. The offensive line is also a concern. That is an understandable debate from anyone doubting that Eli can repeat those numbers.
However, with the trending 3-4 all-out blitz style defenses, there is huge potential for multiple big plays against them. The best of those defenses don't show up on the Giants schedule until the latter part of the season, giving Eli and Co. some time to adjust.
Bradshaw ran for over 1,235 yards last season with 77 yards per game and eight touchdowns. Jacobs ran for 823 yards and 51 per and nine touchdowns. That is a lot of production from the running game which will increase this season.
The two running backs are two of the most powerful in the game, and with great power comes great responsibility, especially with Boss and Smith gone as offensive options. Expect these two to step it up further this season, and do not doubt their hunger.
No doubt, the Giants defense is of major concern. Four of the six starting linebackers are rookies. Osi Umenyiora is out for the time being.
But Osi isn't gone for good, and the rest of the defensive end positions are filled by Justin Tuck and Jason Pierre-Paul. When Osi is back, the defensive ends of the New York Giants can play with the best of the best around the league.
The three defensive linemen had 29 sacks between them last season. The start will be slow without Osi, but he should be back when the schedule starts to get tougher in the second half of the season.
Kevin Boss and Steve Smith are gone. They were important pieces of Eli Manning's offensive core.
Life must go on, and it's not so bad.
The Giants still have Mario Manningham, Domenik Hixon and Hakeem Nicks. It is definitely not the best receiving core around. There are holes to fill, but the foundation is set.
There is still the running option in Bradshaw and Jacobs that will take pressure off Eli and his receivers, allowing for a balance in the offense system.
The first half of the season for the Giants is littered with teams looking to exceed expectations in the same way the Giants are.
Every game the Giants play in the first half, with the exception of the Eagles, will be against a team coming off a losing season. Each has their threat and expectations, but all are very winnable games for the Giants.
The most important thing the Giants can do is get off to a hot start if they want to make the playoffs. They have been under the same pressure before, when they beat the 18-0 Patriots for a Super Bowl championship.