Saturday, July 6, 2013

2013 NFL Preview: New York Giants

The Giants got off to a hot start in 2012, winning six of their first eight games, but folded up like a lawn chair down the stretch and ended up missing the playoffs. New York had a chance to potentially lock up the division title with a win in either Week 15 at Atlanta or Week 16 at Baltimore, but unfortunately for the G-Men they got waxed in both those games and finished the season with a 9-7 record.

With Ahmad Bradshaw out of the picture, many believe David Wilson is poised for a breakout year. While I do not necessarily disagree with that hypothesis, Bradshaw is one of the best pass protecting running backs in the league and it was surprising to see the Giants let him walk considering the only offer he garnered was a one-year, $2 million deal from Indianapolis. It will be imperative that Wilson improve his pass protection technique if he wants to fill the shoes of Bradshaw in the Giants' backfield.

Victor Cruz signed his one-year tender (worth approximately $2.88 million) and will attend training camp but it appears he will have a long-term contract in place prior to the start of the regular season. If Hakeem Nicks can stay healthy, which is much easier said than done, the Giants will have one of the most dynamic wide receiver duos in the league.

New York lost a few key pieces on defense in Osi Umenyiora and Michael Boley but for the most part the defensive unit remains intact. Jason Pierre-Paul is recovering from back surgery that took place on June 4, and while the estimated timetable for recovery is twelve weeks, a set date for his return has yet to be determined.

As far as estimations for the upcoming season go, the LVH opened the Giants' season win total at 9, slightly shaded toward the 'under' (-120). Considering the LVH released their win totals over a month ago, it appears they haven't taken much action, if any, on the Giants because the vig and total remain unchanged per Mike Wilkening of Sporting News.

According to the Pythagorean Expectation theorem (outlined by Bill Barnwell in this article), the G-Men should have won approximately ten games last year based on their points scored and points allowed, so there's not much of a discrepancy and conclusions shouldn't be drawn simply from the theorem in this case. (Usually a two win difference between expected wins and actual wins is the starting point for anticipating a progression or regression the following season.)

Similar to the Cowboys, the Giants have the privilege of facing their toughest opponents at home. The G-Men play Seattle at MetLife which is a huge advantage considering the Seahawks have arguably the strongest home field edge in the league and the game will be played at 1:00 PM ET so the time zone difference factor is in play. New York also gets Denver at home so they avoid playing in altitude at Mile High.

The Week 1 matchup at Dallas will go a long way in determining whether the Giants win more than nine games or not. If New York were to lose that game, they could easily get off to an 0-2 start considering they play Denver the following week. However, the Giants play at Carolina, at Kansas City and home against Philadelphia during Weeks 3-5 and I expect them to be favored in all three of those games. New York won't face off against Washington until Week 13 which is a disadvantage because it is unknown whether Robert Griffin III will be healthy at the start of the season.

Based on my projections I have the Giants slotted for nine wins so I don't have a strong opinion on their season win total. A few lucky breaks could potentially determine whether New York exceeds expectations or not and there is too much uncertainty for me to make a wager on their win total.

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