The Comeback is previewing all 32 NFL teams from worst to first leading up to the start of the 2017 regular season on Sept. 7. Coming in at No. 11 on our rankings are the OBJ-reliant New York Giants.
2016 in a nutshell: The offense did more harm than good, scoring just 19.4 points per game while relying too heavily on superstar wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. But a defensive spending spree in the 2016 offseason paid off as the D dominated during the second half of the season. As a result, the Giants snuck into the playoffs for the first time since 2011, but fell on their faces in the wild-card round after a controversial boat party that we shall never speak of again.
What’s different: The Giants added six-time Pro Bowl receiver Brandon Marshall to the fray in support of Beckham. They also released Victor Cruz and didn’t re-sign big defensive tackle Johnathan Hankins.
Jason Pierre-Paul with the hump move. Vicious! Has a great get off as well.
— DLineVids (@DLineVids) August 27, 2017
Why they could be awesome: The D lost Hankins, but is getting stud pass-rusher Jason Pierre-Paul back after he missed the final four weeks of the 2016 season. That absence didn’t slow the Giants down anyway. During the second half of the year, that defense surrendered an NFC-low 15.0 points per game and ranked tied for third with 16 takeaways.
Why they could suck: Beckham and Marshall are both already dealing with injuries, quarterback Eli Manning is beyond his prime and coming off a bad season, there’s no guarantee Paul Perkins or anyone else will fix a running game that averaged just 3.5 yards per carry and 88.3 yards per game and they’re sticking with bookend offensive tackles Ereck Flowers and Bobby Hart despite the fact both were awful in 2016.
Major additions: Marshall, versatile-yet-disappointing offensive lineman D.J. Fluker and quarterback Geno Smith.
Major losses: Hankins and Cruz, I guess.
Breakout watch: Flowers and Hart are both 23 and general manager Jerry Reese obviously believes they’ll flourish soon because they didn’t really bring in anyone else in those spots. They’re also looking for big things from sophomores Perkins, Eli Apple and Sterling Shepard.
Position to watch: Running back, where Perkins was inexplicably named the starter when the offseason was just an infant. But the second-year fifth-round pick hasn’t done much this summer, and it wouldn’t surprise me if we saw plenty of veteran Shane Vereen, under-the-radar 25-year-old Orleans Darkwa and rookie fourth-rounder Wayne Gallman.
Prediction: I don’t think the Giants are going to dominate anybody, but I believe in that D, I believe in Beckham and I think they have some solid pieces elsewhere on offense. Manning can be better, and they can make another run at the NFC East crown. But there are also some major weak spots, which is again why I’m not sending them to the Super Bowl.
9-7, 2nd place in the NFC East