With their first pre-season game only a few days away, and the Mets comfortably entrenched in fourth place for the foreseeable future, we can finally talk about the Giants. ESPN has them third on the pre-season power rankings. I think that might be a little high until we figure out if Eli can throw to anyone other than Plax, but I do think they have a credible shot at winning the division with a 10-6 or an 11-5 record. The Redskins stink and the Eagles are old. Cowboys will be tough, but I think our defense can contain them (especially without TO, who has absolutely torched the Giants for his entire career (but it was awesome that time he cried after we beat them in the playoffs)).
A few notes from the schedule:
Sep 13 - the opener, home against the Redskins, at 4:15. A nice way to kick off the season.
Sep 20 - a week later, in Dallas on Sunday night. Last time we started a season against two division opponents was 2004 (under Kurt Warner), and we split en route to a disappointing season.
Thanksgiving night - at Mile High against the Jay Cutler-less Broncos. Defense could have a field day against Kyle Orton.
Then the last two games of the season are home against the Panthers and on the road against the Vikings. Is it me or do we end every single season against Minnesota? (In fact, the Giants' last five games of this season are against the exact same five teams as last season. And they are in the exact same order with only the Dallas and Washington games reversed).
And a few predictions/thoughts:
Watch for Justin Tuck to have another monster year. And with Osi slated to return, watch for the entire defense to put together a Ravens-style season.
Eli could struggle early. There will be so much talk about his new contract, whether he is worth it, etc., etc. And he is going to have to find a rhythm with a core of receivers that really does not have a superstar among them. I think this is a big concern (particularly given that the first two games are in the division).
I live in constant fear of Brandon Jacobs getting hurt. You are all free to kick my ass for the jinx I just put on him.
Is Ahmad Bradshaw the real deal? I honestly cannot decide. I think this is the second biggest concern. But I am glad that the Giants do not seem inclined to use Bradshaw on first and second down, and save Jacobs for third down. That was exactly the wrong formula, and they finally figured that out last year. If Jacobs is healthy (jinx), and Bradshaw can mirror what Derek Ward did last year, then the running game will take enormous pressure off of Eli. Coupled with a best-in-conference defense, and this is the recipe for the Giants to get into the playoffs and go deep.
Here endeth my stream of consciousness about the Giants, for now.