We’re taking a longer look at each team during their bye week. The 4-2 first place Giants are up.
The New Favorites
My preseason pick of the Giants as NFC East champs doesn’t look too crazy now. New York is the slight favorite in a wide open division because 1) They are ahead. 2) They don’t have RexJohn Beckman as their quarterback. 3) They have reason to believe they’ll get better.
The margin for error is slim. They are slight favorites, capable of winning (and losing) to anyone.
The Giants started the season with a brand new offensive line. They’ve played without Pro Bowler guard Chris Snee at times. That group should continue to improve the more it plays together.
On defense, the front seven hasn’t had all its pass rushers together at the same time. Justin Tuck should be back after the bye. Osi Umenyiora has been solid since his return. The team also hopes to get first round pick cornerback Prince Amukamara back after the bye. He’ll add depth to a weak spot for New York.
Pass rush potential
I picked the Giants on one theory: They had enough offensive talent and no one could match their quantity of pass rushers. They lead the NFL in sacks. When Tuck is healthy, it will be tough to block him, Osi Umenyiora (5 sacks in three games), Jason Pierre-Paul (7 sacks), Mathias Kiwanuka, and Chris Canty.
Pierre-Paul should make the Pro Bowl this year. The defense hasn’t been great overall, but the pass rush gives this team an edge.
“Giants Football” a little different
Eli Manning is quietly having a nice season. He’s third in the league in yards-per-attempt. Victor Cruz has ably stepped up as a playmaker. Jake Ballard is doing a solid job at tight end. Throw in Hakeem Nicks and Mario Manningham, and it’s clear this is a passing team.
New York is 31st in yards-per-carry. This team is going to win by throwing.
Schedule is brutal
The Giants get the Dolphins coming out of the bye. That should get them to 5-2, but then they face as tough a schedule as any team in the league: @ NE, @ SF, PHI, @NO, GB, @ DAL. Yikes. It doesn’t even ease up in the final three much. (WAS, @NYJ, DAL).
The second place schedule was a disadvantage this year because they got the Saints and Packers. The rest of the NFC East has a tough schedule too. My guess is only one NFC East team gets in.