NFC EAST 2016 PREVIEW
September 5th, 2016
In a division where there is NOT a dominant defense, the Giants offense is sneaky good, and they will again be led by the uninspiring play of Eli Manning. Thankfully for Manning it doesn’t have to look good, but the end result on the offense side of the football is almost always good, especially when everyone is healthy, which seems to be the case as the Giants roll through pre-season ball. The Giants are healthy and relatively deep at every position including the O-line. Aside from Odell Beckham, this offense doesn’t boast as many game changing impact players, but Manning and company have not let that bother the in the past. All players are experienced, well coached and capable, and now Giants Nation has to sit back and watch Manning weave his web.
Missing fingers and all Jason Pierre-Paul should be ready to go with a clean bill of health, as he leads this defensive unit. Life just got better for the Giants, as bitter division rival Dallas, has lost their QB, though they still have to deal with Kirk Cousins with no one really concerned about what’s going on in Philadelphia. The Giants still may have to start two rookies on defense including Eli Apple, but there’s enough experience there including the FA signing of Vernon Olivier to offset. They won’t be dominant, but they will be good enough to make plays, and compliment the offense.
Don’t even think about dismissing Victor Cruz this season. He’s all the way back, and though he won’t return to his old year two self the five year veteran still has separation speed, almost perfect hands and mean salsa dance. If Cruz proves to be a threat the Giants passing game with Beckham Jr. will be difficult to stop… no pressure though Victor.
Is it fair to label Eli Apple an X-factor when he hasn’t even taken a meaningful NFL snap. Since life’s not fair, the answer is yes, and if Apple can crack the starting line-up and make plays this defense could gain elite status or at the very least be the best in the division. They already have Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie pegged as the starter, but Apple can fit it almost anywhere in the secondary, especially in the nickel. Leon Hall is still buried on the depth chart, and Janoris Jenkins as well as super safety Landon Collins round out a very capable secondary. How Apple adjusts to NFL speed will make all the difference in world for the Giants.
Odell Beckham should be the second WR off the board as there’s nobody in the NFL that can stay with him in man-coverage. He will be double and triple teamed, so expect the Giants to move him around and insert him into different packages to get him the ball. This is why Victor Cruz has some 12-13 round value. Stay away from Giant TEs, and the Giants Defense is worth keeping an eye on. Running Backs like Rashad Jennings are really hit or miss, until they prove otherwise. The problem is when they do prove otherwise, he’ll already be snatched up. If he falls to you at a reasonable price take a flyer, but don’t reach.
The Giants will go 9-7 but note that 9-7 could win the division this season with division record being the tie-breaker. 10 wins would seal the deal, which is plausible given their schedule, but games against Baltimore, Pittsburgh and Cincinnati are toss-ups. The Giants also travel to Minnesota and Green Bay in consecutive weeks after hosting Washington, which is a brutal stretch. This division should be a dog find until the December and the Giants will be in the thick of it all season.