NFL Preview: Why are the New York Giants Favored to Win the NFC East?

The New York Giants are suddenly the favorites at +175 to win the NFC East. Why is that?

The easy answer to that question is that the Giants are favored to win the NFC East Division because Dallas running back Ezekiel Elliott is suspended for the Cowboys’ first 6 games of the season. Without Zeke for 6 straight games, Dallas, from the viewpoint of most NFL handicappers, has a much worse shot at winning the NFC East than the New York Giants.

New York Giants 2017 Preview

Although Zeke not playing for the Boys does have an impact on their chances of winning the NFC East, to say that the Giants are only favored to win the NFC East because Zeke is out of commission for 6 games isn’t correct.

The Giants are a decent football team. They have a chance to be one of the best teams in the entire NFL, not just the NFC. In fact, based on what I saw last season, and what I’ve seen so far during the preseason, I think NYG might be the best team in the NFC.

Keep reading to find out why I believe that.

Quarterback Eli Manning’s Got New Weapons

The first reason to love the New York Giants is because QB Eli Manning has more weapons. For the past couple of seasons, Eli’s only real weapon has been WR Odell Beckham Jr. Now, Eli can throw to a legitimate tight-end threat in Round 1 draft pick Evan Engram, or to acquired WR Brandon Marshall.

Engram has great upside. He’s automatically first on the Giants’ depth chart at tight-end. He must learn to block better. But, as far as his pass-catching skills are concerned, forget it. That’s what Giants’ head coach Bob McAdoo has needed for some time, a pass-catching tight-end that plays like a tall, strong, wide receiver.

If anything, Brandon Marshall takes some defensive interest away from Odell Beckham Jr.  At one time during his career, Marshall was thought of as one of the Top 5 wide receivers in the NFL. Not anymore, but he’s got enough left in the tank to make QB Ryan Fitzpatrick look good, which is what he did in 2015.

Engram and Marshall could have an effect on Odell Beckham Jr.’s stats. Odell might not catch 101 passes this season like he did last season. He may not rack up 1,367 yards again. I do think, though, that with more offensive weapons, Beckham Jr. might be more open for touchdowns this season than he was last season.

It’s going to be difficult to double-team Odell when Engram and Marshall are also flying down the field to catch passes from Eli Manning. That alone could lead to more Odell 1 on 1 opportunities. It won’t happen in every game, but it could happen enough for Beckham Jr. to record up to 12 to 14 TDs. That’s more than the 10 touchdowns he garnered last season.

Eli has one more weapon that’s not getting a ton of respect from NFL fans this season. RB Paul Perkins showed flashes of being an every down back last season. Perkins is the undisputed RB1 for the New York Giants. So far, he’s looked good in camp.

I think he could turn into one of the better running backs in the NFC this season if not one of the better RBs in the NFL. If he does, he’ll just add to a Giants’ offense that already must have Eli feeling giddy.

Is the Giants Defense Elite?

Towards the middle of the season, I suddenly realized how talented the New York Giants’ defense was. It amazed me that the Giants had become one of the absolute best units in the NFL. I had no idea that the Giants’ defense had become that exceptional.

How exceptional? The G-Men held opponents to a ridiculously low 17.8 points per game last season. That ranked the Giants’ D second in the NFL after the New England Patriots in points allowed per game. Giants’ DE Olivier Vernon played well in his first season in New York. He recorded 8.5 sacks. Jason Pierre-Paul, the better known starting DE, recorded 7 sacks and 53 combined tackles in only 12 games played.

Both Vernon and Pierre-Paul have a chance to eclipse their numbers from 2016. But the real talent on the Giants’ defense is in the secondary.

Led by strong safety Landon Collins, the Giants’ secondary is one of the absolute best in the league. Collins recorded 125 combined tackles. He also had 5 interceptions. The third year pro out of Alabama has been nothing but a defensive master since being drafted. He’s one of those strong safeties that a defensive coordinator can strategize around.

Cornerback Janoris Jenkins played well in his first season as a New York Giant. Jenkins had a combined 49 tackles, 1 forced fumble, and 3 interceptions. The corner on the other side, Eli Apple, had an exceptional season. Apple only recorded a single interception. Still, because he was a rookie, the 51 tackles, and the fact that he rarely gave up the big play, made it a nice first year in the NFL.

The free safety this season is Mykkele Thompson. This is the first time Thompson has ever started. Thompson might go through some growing pains. We may not even know if he does. That’s because Apple, Jenkins, and Collins are so effective.

Because the secondary is so talented, the Giants can use their other players to either get to the quarterback, or stop the run. When you’re able to play man-to-man in the secondary, you can do more things on defense than if you must constantly play zone.

2017-2018 New York Giants Schedule

5 of the Giants first 7 games before their bye week are against NFC opponents. This includes playing against both the Dallas Cowboys and the Philadelphia Eagles on the road. The only two games versus an AFC opponent is against Denver on the road on Oct. 15, and versus the L.A. Chargers at home on Oct. 8. The Giants other games before their bye are versus Detroit, at Tampa Bay, and versus Seattle.

The most important games in the 7-game stretch is Week 1 against Dallas in Arlington, and Week 3 versus the Eagles in Philly. I believe the Giants are good enough to beat both those teams. In fact, I think NYG makes it to their bye with a great 5 and 2 record. The wins should be against Dallas, Philadelphia, Seattle, Detroit, and the L.A. Chargers. The losses are going to be to Denver and to Tampa Bay on the road.

After the bye, New York only has 4 road games left from their 9 remaining games. The 4 road games are: San Francisco, Washington, Oakland, and Arizona. The Giants should win all 4 road games. There’s a possibility they lose 1 of the 4 road games to either Washington or Oakland.

After all road games, I project the Giants’ record to be 8 and 3. New York’s 5 remaining home games are against the L.A. Rams, Kansas City, Dallas, Philadelphia, and Washington. I’m not sure who the Giants lose to in their remaining 5 home games. I do believe they lose at least 2 of their 5 home games after the bye.

My prediction is that the New York Giants finish with an 11 and 5 record.

New York Giants Super Bowl 52 Odds

The odds on the New York Giants are down to 20 to 1. There is no other team in the NFC that I believe has as good of a shot of winning the Super Bowl as the New York Giants. The Giants have every element a Super Bowl winner needs.

2-time Super Bowl winning quarterback Eli Manning is still under center. The Giants have surrounded Manning with more weapons. The defense projects to be one of the Top 5 in the NFL. If there is one flaw, it might be the offensive line.

But if any improvement has occurred with the offensive line, any at all, the Giants are no worse than a 15 to 1 shot to win Super Bowl 52. I think they’re a play at 20 to 1 odds.

What do you think?

Written by D.S. Williamson