Eli Manning will dictate the Giants’ success moving the ball. If the Ole Miss product can keep the interceptions down, then they will have a better than average offense. But Manning has to work with a less than average receiving corps that will miss Steven Smith and Kevin Boss.
Hakeem Nicks and Mario Manningham will be productive, but there is a serious lack of depth after them. General Manager Jerry Reese did not address the tight end position after Boss left as a free agent, and that may end up being a huge gap on the team.
In a perfect world, Big Blue would like to have their rushing attack control the offense and re-signing Ahmad Bradshaw was a smart move. Brandon Jacobs needs to have a bounce back year after a tumultuous one. But as a whole, this should be the area where the majority of the yards come from.
Changes on the offensive line came during the offseason when Reese cut two mainstays in Shaun O’Hara and Rich Seubert. He then signed former 49er David Baas and Will Beatty moved up on the depth chart to starter. There isn’t a heck of a lot behind them, so conditioning will be paramount to keeping these guys healthy and on the field.
The front line will be a plus, especially if Osi Umenyiora plays the way he should. He has to leave all of the bad feelings with the contract negotiations aside and get back to doing what he does best. He will get his sacks and the more the offensive linemen have to worry about him, the better it will be for Jason Pierre-Paul, who is ready for a breakout season. Along with Justin Tuck, this is a unit that can be dominant.
The next line of defense is not as strong, but Mathias Kiwanuka and Michael Boley can handle their own, and will be counted on even more with Jonathan Goff out. Four rookie linebackers made the initial 53-man roster and should provide depth and special teams tackles.
The secondary is an area of concern for Tom Coughlin. When Terrell Thomas went down for the year with a knee injury during the preseason, it thinned out an already sketchy unit. Corey Webster, Kenny Phillips, Aaron Ross and Antrel Rolle will suffice. Perhaps top draft pick Prince Amukamara can return from his own injury to help out in the nickel and dime packages.
Lawrence Tynes is back as the place kicker and Steve Weatherford beat out incumbent Matt Dodge for the punter’s job. Aaron Ross is not a breakaway returner, but will give the team decent starting field position.
Hot starts and slow finishes have been the case of late with the Jints, as is missing the playoffs. The Philadelphia Eagles appear to be the class of the NFC East, so the Giants may have to get in via the Wild Card.
That will not be an easy task, as the NFC has improved the past few years. The Cowboys, Bears, Bucs and Falcons will have something to say about that and only two survive.
10-6, on the outside looking in.