2nd Annual 32 in 32ish NFL Previews: New York Giants

Continuing with the NFC East previews of all 32 NFL teams, it’s time for the New York Giants, who finished in third place in the division last season.

The Giants’ 6-10 record was their worst since 2004, when they finished with the same record in Tom Coughlin’s first season as the team’s head coach. Now in his 12th season leading the team, Coughlin has a tough hill to climb to get back to the winning ways that the team has enjoyed during much of his tenure there.

QB Eli Manning bounced back from one of his worst statistical seasons in 2013 to have one of his best last year, passing for 4,410 and 30 touchdowns — both the second-best totals of his career — with 14 interceptions, nearly half of the 27 he threw the year before. He did all of that with his No. 1 receiver at the beginning of the season, WR Victor Cruz, missing the final 10 games of the season with a knee injury. Rookie WR Odell Beckham Jr. filled in nicely for Cruz once he started playing after coming back from his own injury. In 11 starts last season, Beckham had 91 receptions for 1,305 yards and 12 touchdowns en route to earning Offensive Rookie of the Year honors despite missing a quarter of the season with an injury. TE Larry Donnell enjoyed some success in his first season as a starter, catching 63 balls for 623 yards and six touchdowns. The running game wasn’t nearly as successful, with RBs Andre Williams and Rashad Jennings splitting the workload. Williams led the team with 217 yards and seven touchdowns in seven starts. Jennings started nine games, running for just 167 yards and four touchdowns. The defense was below average last season, ranking 22nd in the league.

With Cruz expected to be healthy to start the season, Manning has two top receivers to throw the ball to. If the team can get a running game going, that would require the defense to focus more on that part of the game, opening things up a bit more for Manning and his receivers. The team signed RB Shane Vereen in the offseason, but he has never started more than six games in a season in his career so I don’t know how much help he’ll bring to a team that needs a star running back to break out. There are questions about whether DE Jason Pierre-Paul will be able to play this season; he is recovering after having a finger amputated following a fireworks-related accident on July 4.

The Giants’ schedule begins with a tough road contest on Sunday night in Week 1, as the team travels to Dallas to take on the defending division champion Cowboys. Other highlights of the schedule include back-to-back rivalry games in Weeks 6 and 7; first, the Giants visit the Eagles for a prime-time contest, then host the Cowboys in their second meeting of the season. The defending Super Bowl champion Patriots await the Giants at home in Week 10, while the G-Men host the Jets in Week 13. The season ends with a Week 17 home game with the Eagles. The Giants look to have a pretty difficult schedule, and with a subpar running game and questions about a defense that could miss Pierre-Paul for the entire season, I can’t see this team finishing better than .500. I think they’re a seven- or eight-win team, which won’t nearly be good enough to make the playoffs.

Source: http://www.giants.com, http://www.pro-football-reference.com

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