PFT Preseason Power Rankings No. 3: New York Giants

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Another NFC East team is talking about dynasties, but the Giants are the ones that have won two of the last five Super Bowls.

It wouldn’t be like Tom Coughlin to be thinking about things like dynasties, anyway. Coughlin’s never allowed himself to think too far ahead, whether it is about his job security or his team’s chances of winning multiple Super Bowls. He’ll just keep starting meetings five minutes early and running his team the way he has since taking over in 2004.

His focus this time around should be on getting the Giants through the regular season with something better than a 9-7 record that doesn’t guarantee you a playoff berth. The Giants peaked at exactly the right moment last year, but the Giants learned in 2009 and 2010 that you can’t count on that happening every year.

Even after some key departures, Coughlin’s got a team that can improve on that regular season record. Recapturing the playoff magic might not be quite so easy.


There’s something about Eli Manning that seems to set off a lot of silly debates. Is he elite? Is he better than Peyton? Is he the best quarterback in the NFL?

People spent time on all those things since this time last year and as entertaining as such discussions might be, they are all ultimately meaningless. Manning is in total control of the Giants offense, has supreme confidence in his ability to lead the team back from any deficit and has grown into the leadership role that fit him like a poorly tailored suit earlier in his career.

Hakeem Nicks and Victor Cruz return to give Manning top-flight targets and there will likely be other names emerging as they take advantage of open spaces and Manning’s passes to put up big numbers. There are questions in the backfield and on the offensive line, but that was true last year as well and Manning was able to lead the Giants without too many blips.

The defensive strength of the team is also the same as it was last year. Jason Pierre-Paul exploded into one of the best pass rushers in the league and he could be even better with a healthy Justin Tuck and Osi Umenyiora available to occupy attention from opposing offenses. The Giants also have Chris Canty, who was outstanding down the stretch, and Linval Joseph back in the middle of the defensive line with Marvin Austin returning after missing his rookie year with a torn pectoral.

It’s a deep and talented group that will provide the pressure that makes the Giants defense go.


The offensive line has a lot of question marks as the Giants make their way into camp, the result of a long-stable line forced into changes because of injuries and ineffective longtime starters. Thanks to an eye injury last year and a back injury this offseason, the Giants still don’t know if Will Beatty can handle left tackle and Kareem McKenzie’s departure has opened up right tackle. David Diehl is the likely candidate there, but he struggled mightily last season and might be needed on the left side. Center David Baas and left guard Kevin Boothe could also stand to improve on last year’s work.

Losing tight ends Jake Ballard and Travis Beckum to torn ACLs has the Giants looking thin at the position. Martellus Bennett was signed away from Dallas, but he showed up very heavy and he’s had problems with drops over the course of his career.

It has been years since the Giants had anyone dynamic returning kicks for them and there doesn’t appear to be a change in sight on that front. At least the team ironed out some of their kick coverage issues last season, an area where punter Steve Weatherford made a huge difference and earned a new contract as a result.


Running back Brandon Jacobs and wide receiver Mario Manningham both jumped to the 49ers as free agents, leaving openings on the depth chart at both spots. The first two draft picks from April were running back David Wilson and wide receiver Rueben Randle, each of whom could play important roles in the offense if they live up to their lofty draft status.

The Giants acquired linebacker Keith Rivers in a deal with the Bengals, a buy-low move that either landed them a productive linebacker going into his contract year or cost them little to confirm that Rivers won’t ever live up to his own lofty draft position.

Cornerback Aaron Ross jumped to Jacksonville, but Terrell Thomas’ return and Prince Amukamara’s expected growth should mean no hearts grow fonder in his absence. Safety Deon Grant is still a free agent and the Giants could look back to him if Tyler Sash isn’t ready for a bigger defensive role.

Camp Battles.

The makeup of the linebacking corps will be decided during camp. Mathias Kiwanuka and Michael Boley will start, but Boley could wind up in the middle if the team doesn’t like what it sees from Chase Blackburn, Mark Herzlich and Greg Jones. If Boley does move inside, Rivers is the likeliest starter at his old spot on the weakside.

With Manningham gone, there will be a spirited competition for third receiver snaps. Randle, Domenik Hixon, Jerrel Jernigan and Ramses Barden will be involved with Barden likely on his last chance to make an impact after several missed opportunities.

Wilson has the inside track over Da’Rel Scott and D.J.Ware to back up Ahmad Bradshaw at tailback, but he’ll need to prove he’s up to the task this summer. Bradshaw’s had recurring issues with his feet and that’s with never doing more than splitting time in the backfield. If Wilson is slow to pick things up, the Giants might need to go outside the organization for help.


Like all champions, the Giants had more than a few breaks go their way at points in the season and especially in the playoffs when two Kyle Williams fumbles ended San Francisco’s chances of winning the NFC. They weren’t lucky, far from it, but even the best teams can be one bad bounce away from disaster. Giants fans would argue that there were plenty of breaks that went against them as well, but the unpredictable nature of how such things balance out illustrates why it is so hard to repeat in the NFL.

The Giants need only look back to their last attempted repeat for proof of that. After starting the year 11-1, the Giants fell apart when Plaxico Burress shot himself in the leg and washed out of the playoffs in their first game. That’s not likely to happen again, but the vagaries of life in the big leagues mean that the Giants could be better this year and wind up with worse results.

That’s the part they can’t control. They can control playing up to their talent for an entire season. With a more demanding slate than they faced last year, the Giants will have to keep their focus throughout the year this time around instead of just waiting to turn on the jets at the last possible moment.

If they accomplish that, and they have more than enough talent to do it, the confidence of the two titles will allow them to take their chances at making their own luck again come the postseason.

49 responses to “PFT Preseason Power Rankings No. 3: New York Giants

  1. So let me get this straight. The two teams above the Giants in the power rankings will be Geen Bay (whom the Giants beat convincingly on their own field in the playoffs just a few months ago) and New England (whom the Giants swept last season). Make sense….

  2. How can you have the Giants lower than the Packers and Patriots when the G-men beat both handily at the end of last year?

  3. Funny how you don’t hear Dynasty talk from Eli….I guess because they lost to the Eagles in the regular season. You know, the season that means more in Philadelphia.

  4. You know the ironic thing about this ranking is the two teams ranked ahead of the Giants, Green Bay and New England were both beat in last years post season by this 3rd ranked team.

    Rankings, just some fodder to talk about in the NFL’ s off season.

  5. This is TERRIBLE! Please pick the Giants 3rd or 4th in the division. That’s how we succeed.

  6. Interesting that you don’t mention the Giants’ relatively weak run game, or their insane difficult schedule. Not that I am not ever the optimistic Giants fan. But I really see their road this season as a rough one.

  7. I know I will sound like a bitter Patriots fan but do you look at the Giant SB championship teams and say they were great teams? Last year they were a 9-7 team that got hot in the playoffs but they were not a dominate team by any means.

  8. I know these rankings are fun, but I hope you dont waste our time completely by holding out to rank the packers #1 for ‘Pre-Season 2012’ rankings, and that this isnt just another media fan list.

  9. Giants have won 2 of the last 5 superbowls, beaten the Patriots & Packers to win each title and last year had the worst injury plagued season in recent memory yet are still ranked behind both of them? Neither team has any resemblance of a defense. Giants have 2 of the top 10 receivers in the NFL. Defense just got T2 & Marvin Austin back. Patriots haven’t won anything in forever and continue to get the softest schedule in the NFL which is the only reason they rattle off these ridiculous regular season records. I guess the Giants will just have to win another superbowl before people start to realize that the Patriots and Packers are flawed.

  10. As a Giants fan, I am absolutely fine with this ranking and analysis. I also would have completely understood it if San Fran had been ranked higher. True, the Giants did not have the strongest regular season, but they do “rise to the occasion”.

    Any argument of “Well, the Giants are SB champs, they should be ranked #1” is pure hogwash.

  11. As a Giants fan I think this team has plenty of talent to make a deep run but the offensive line is questionable. Defensively they will be much improved from last year. Injuries killed them and not until late last year did everyone get healthy. Boleys injury last year killed them in the middle of the season. He is key at the LB position. The safeties are so underrated. Rolle played most of last year out of position due to injuries and Phillips is an emerging star.

    The schedule will be tough and injuries will be key but if the oline comes together who knows what this team can do.

  12. Giants arent even going to make the playoffs this year! they have one of the worst offensive lines in the league.

  13. Good job PFT. Good to see that you used your brains and didn’t use last year’s results like every other sports publication will.

    The Giants are still very very good, but there’s no question that the Packers are the team best built to win it all this year.

  14. Giants at 3… I think it is a tad high for them. I get that they won the SB last year. They got hot at the right time. BUt this team was 9-7 and barely got in the playoffs. I think there are about 7 or 8 teams better. Thats just my opinion guys.

  15. Packers suffer through a rash of injuries in 2010, leading to an inconsistent year that includes losses to bad Redskins and Lions teams. Late in the year, some key guys get healthy, they get hot, get into the playoffs on the final week of the year and ride a hot handed QB and opportunistic defense through some tough road venues, all the way to a Super Bowl win vs. a perennial AFC favorite. They are considered SB favorites until they lose in the playoffs almost a year later.

    Giants suffer through a rash of injuries in 2011, leading to an inconsistent year that includes losses to bad Redskins and Seahawks teams. Late in the year, some key guys get healthy, they get hot, get into the playoffs on the final week of the year and ride a hot handed QB and opportunistic defense through some tough road venues, all the way to a Super Bowl win vs. a perennial AFC favorite. They are considered by many to be behind the Eagles and Cowboys in their own division.

    Maybe I’m missing something here. I think there’s a fine chance they will get off to a very good start a la 2008, when they also had a tough schedule, but a smaller chance an important member of the offense will cripple the team due to off the field transgressions. Could be wrong, but I think this will be a very confident and very hungry team. I’m excited to see them play again.

  16. So, the team owns the Patriots in Super Bowls, is ranked lower that them? Way to go PFT! Your bias towards the Patriots is sickening.

  17. Yea im not understanding how the defending champs are #3 before even taking the first snap of the pre-season… this ranking seems like nothing more than a popularity contest. Im not a Giants fan whatsoever but this seems very odd.

  18. I am not at all a Giants fan but IMO, they should be ranked 1. They are defending champs. It isn’t college where all of their best players have left.

  19. I wish I could press the thumbs up button to NYGF’s comment 1,000,000 times because I couldn’t agree more. It’s unbelievable how many people are so anti-NY. I guess every1 hates the top of the food chain.

  20. Everyone focus’s on 9-7. Yet if Cruz and Manningham didn’t each bobble a relative easy catch in separate games (seahawks, 49ers) they could have been 11-5.

  21. I’m actually surprised PFT has them ranked this high. The four-letter-network had a full segment on why the Giants would miss the playoffs.(Again)

  22. This Giants’ fan is ecstatic that they aren’t ranked No. 1! Now we get to play the disrespect card we’ve always played so well.

    That intangible aside, the Giants will go far if they stay healthy. Last year, they were decimated until December. Also, their schedule last year will be no less difficult than this year. Every year, we seemingly play NO, GB and SF. This year is the same but at least we get the Saints at home. The AFC North will take a step back this year. Steelers have no RB, Ravens have no WR and their defense is a year older / no Suggs, the Bengals go to the playoffs one year then suck for 5 straight and the Browns are the Browns. Eagles/Cowboys are 10 win teams at best. If GB has no D and SF can’t throw, the road to the SB could finally go through NYG.

  23. I realize the Giants won the Super Bowl and there’s no taking that away from them, but this is not a team that was dominant, going 12-4 or better during the season to get there. It’s a team that got hot at the right time, got a couple of breaks in the SF game and peaked in the playoffs.

    Bottom line: No shame in pft ranking them where they’re at. Giants deserve their SB rings but that doesn’t necessarily mean they have to be or should be considered this year’s top team.

  24. I’m a Giants fan, but it’s more than a little ridiculous for some Giants fans to be upset by this ranking. We are not the same team that beat GB and NE. Our OLine is still undetermined and only has one Pro Bowl caliper player in Snee who is coming off his worst season.

  25. Dynasty? So, Eli Manning, one of the hardest working and intelligent guys in football, would never mention the word Dynasty. He’ll just keep working harder.

    But, say, Justin Tuck who missed a good portion of the year, who needed a pep talk from Coughlin to stop moping around, and who admitted to not working hard last off season is talking Dynasty. Smh. That always seems to be the way.

    Eli Manning’s and Tom Coughlin’s no bull mentality make the Giants a very dangerous team. Thank goodness those two aren’t talking Dynasty.

  26. Wait how can you Rank the Packers and the Pats higher not saying the Giants should be #1 but they beat the pats twice last year which kills the if Gronk were health talk.

    They lost a close Reg game to the Packers and then went to Lambo and destroyed the Packers
    Watch the game look at the 14 points GB got from blind man calls.

    This year the game line up looks just like last year and you see how that hurt.

    Again not saying they should be #1 but they should not sit behind Brady and Erin.

    As of right now the Giants are the best team in the NFL and will stay that way till someone else takes home the Trophy

    I will take oh gosh Eli over what every you want to put againest him any time

  27. As a Giants fan, I couldn’t be happier we’re ranked 3rd. I wish we were 32nd in these rankings, because the G-Men play their best when no one believes in them.

    See 2007 and 2011 for proof.

  28. pats fans cant get over our 2 wins, pats easy divisional wins Hurt THEM IN POST SEASON, JUST MY OPINION

  29. Ha. Who’s got the Lombardi ? Exactly. The real # 1 gets to keep it and until some one takes it away they’re the champs. Tom Brady and Aaron Rodgers agree.

  30. The view of the Giants is the most jaded oin sports. They are labelled lucky, QB constantly trashed, blah blah blah.

    Why is it a negative that they got hot at the right time? They beat multiple great teams. I can agree with luck for 1 game but not Jets, 2 Coyboys, GB, SF and NE. Thats just nuts.

    This is a talented team who got really injured last year and screwed up and against Wash and Seattle.

  31. Enough of the ” they only went 9-7″. They did that with backups and backups backups. Legitimately the most injury decimated team of the year and the SB champs.

  32. If the 2011 Giants were lining up against the 2011 Patriots or Packers, I could understand the sentiment about why NY should be ranked #1. However, this is about how the 2012 teams will fare, and I would suggest that the Pats did more to improve in the offseason than the Giants. In fact, NY lost the guy that made the play of the game, making their victory possible. The Giants are very good, and barring injuries, they’ll be an elite team once again. Of course, none of this is anything more than mental masturbation so don’t get your panties in a wad. Soon enough, the teams will start playing the games we all love, and in the NFL, those games are won on the field. (Please take note, Michael Vick and Rex Ryan.)

  33. This ranking is a prediction for how the teams will finish in 2012. Therefore the Giants success in 2011 is irrelevant. Facts show a team that didnt really get better and has sandwiched some really inconsistent play in between their super bowl wins. They are scary, and I won’t count them out until they are officially eliminated, but it also wouldn’t be a huge surprise if they missed the playoffs

  34. Just because the Giants are defending champions doesn’t mean they should automatically rank #1. Between the last super bowl sunday and today, plenty has changed. Let us not forget the NFL has things called the draft, free agency, coaching changes, lawsuits and most notably arrests!

  35. Giants aren’t even going to make the playoffs this year. And if the Patriots played in the NFC, they wouldn’t make the playoffs either.

    That was a brutal Superbowl.

  36. Why is everybody so obsessed with last season? We can argue until we’re blue in the face about whether the Giants got lucky last season, or just got hot at the right time, or thoroughly deserved their championship. It all means diddly squat at this point because these rankings are about how teams will fare *this* season, not how good they were last year.

    If you want an objective look at who is likely to win it this year, here is what the bookmakers think are the top 10. You know, the guys who actually put their money where their mouth is and make a living out of it:

    1. Packers
    2. Patriots
    3. Texans
    =4. Eagles
    =4. 49ers
    6. Saints
    =7. Giants
    =7. Steelers
    9. Ravens
    10. Broncos

  37. Explain to me how the 2 worst defenses in the NFL are ranked 1 and 2. And neither one is any better this year. On top of that, both the Packers and Pats were completely shut down offensively against the Giants

    Giants are loaded with young talent on defense, are healthy and have mych more depth than lat year.

    Oh and did I mention the Giants have the best big game QB in the NFL………yeah that’s right

  38. Listen, I am a Giants Fan and I think ranking them #1 just because they won LAST years super bowl is a stupid way to make your predictions for THIS year. I am riding high on the Super Bowl win, and the Giants will still be Champs until Feb. But if they start the season 4-4 will anyone be saying they should be ranked #1 in the power rankings because they haven’t been de-throned yet?

    Dont be silly!! He is making a prediction and honestly #3 might be a tad high for them, but we’ll see how Brewer and Beatty hold up on top of ever present injury threat..

  39. Last year prior to the season, the bookmakers ranked the Giants at 14, directly behind the Chargers, Colts (!), Buccaneers, Texans and Jets(!).

    The betting lines go with the money, they are not based on analysis.

  40. 9-7 last year and will be lucky to be 8-8 and will finish 3rd in the division this year. Last years Giants were the worst team to ever win the superbowl – hands down

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