The Comeback is previewing all 32 NFL teams from worst to first leading up to the start of the 2018 regular season on Sept. 6. Up next in our preseason rankings are the yo-yo-like New York Giants.
2017 in a nutshell: Without star wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. for much of the season, the injury-plagued Giants come back to earth on both sides of the ball following a strong 2016 campaign. Quarterback Eli Manning struggles, and a lack of support is factor.
What’s different: Beckham is healthy, No. 2 overall pick Saquon Barkley is the offensive rookie of the year favorite, stalwart Nate Solder is now protecting Manning’s blind side and they have an entirely new coaching staff led by Pat Shurmur.
Why they could be awesome: That Beckham-Barkley duo will be a sight to see, especially if Manning is better-protected by Solder and second-round rookie guard Will Hernandez. Plus, we know the defense has the ability to dominate.
Why they could suck: Aside from a few nice runs, Manning hasn’t been good in half a decade and has never been a very effective regular-season quarterback. There’s also quite an unknown element with a team that is bringing a lot of new pieces together in 2018.
Major additions: Shurmur, offensive coordinator Mike Shula, defensive coordinator James Bettcher, Barkley, Hernandez, Solder, guard Patrick Omameh, third-round rookie defensive end B.J. Hill and veteran linebacker Alec Ogletree.
Major losses: Interior offensive linemen Justin Pugh and Weston Richburg, defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul and cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie.
Breakout watch: Third-year first-round pick Eli Apple has been an unreliable mess thus far in his career, but the Ohio State product just turned 23 and appears to be having a nice offseason. He certainly has all of the physical traits you want in a potential shutdown corner.
Position to watch: The offensive line is worth keeping an eye on. That unit has been a problem for years, but they’re paying Solder huge bucks, they’re hoping like hell that 2015 first-rounder Ereck Flowers can find a groove at right tackle and they’ve got Hernandez and Omameh fighting John Jerry, Jon Halapio and Brett Jones for reps inside.
Prediction: Bad season in 2015, good season in 2016, bad season in 2017, good season in 2018? I’m leaning that way, but that division remains tough and I don’t trust Manning enough to predict a deep playoff run. They’ll at least contend for a playoff spot.
9-7, 2nd place in the NFC East