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Last years Super Bowl champs, the New York Giants, are prepared to defend their title for the 2nd time in the past five years.
Quarterback Eli Manning had one of the best seasons of his career. Eli threw for a career high, 4,933 yards, 29 touchdowns, and a passer rating of 92.9. Manning showed his superior passing ability all season long, especially in the 4th quarter. Eli’s quarterback rating in the 4th quarter was 110.0; he threw for 1,715 yards, and 15 touchdowns. Manning led the Giants to eight game winning drives this season more than any other quarterback in the NFL.
Manning had several reliable targets to throw to last season; however, New Jersey native Victor Cruz stole the show. Cruz had 82 receptions, for 1,536 yards and 9 touchdowns, all Giant highs for the season. Hakeem Nicks was Eli’s 2nd favorite target: they connected 79 times for 1,192 yards and 7 touchdowns. Although the Giants lost wideout Mario Manningham to the 49ers, they added ex-Dallas tight-end Martellus Bennett, and drafted wideout Rueben Randle from LSU.
As for New York’s run game, they were led by Ahmad Bradshaw who had a team high, 659 yards, and 9 rushing touchdowns. Also, running back Brandon Jacobs contributed with 571 yards and 7 rushing touchdowns.
Despite Jacobs’ success, he and the New York Giants parted ways this summer and also joined the San Francisco 49ers. As a result, the Giants used their 1st round pick on Virginia Tech running back David Wilson. Wilson showed positive spurts this preseason with 28 rushing attempts for 131 yards, and 5 receptions for 61 yards this preseason. Wilson’s quick explosiveness will help make him one of the elite rookies this upcoming season. With the exit of Jacobs and constant injury concern for Ahmad Bradshaw, Wilson could eventually get the majority of carries.
Defensively, the Giants had one of the most ferocious front fours in the NFL. The Giants compiled 48.0 sacks, 3rd best in the NFL. Third year defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul led the giants with 16.5 sacks.
In addition, they were 2nd in the NFL with 1,131 tackles. The Giants tackling leader was safety Antrel Rolle, who had a career high 96 tackles.
The Giants added defensive free agent, Shaun Rogers. They traded their 5th round pick to Cincinnati in exchange for linebacker Keith Rivers. Rivers has been extremely disappointing after being drafted 9th in the 2008 draft, and has had constant injury problems. The Giants are hoping he can stay healthy and resurrect his young career.
The Giants will be facing nine opponents who had a .500 or better record last season. Seven of the nine opponents make up the Giants final eight games of the season. The NFC East Division has improved significantly, which will make each divisional game gut-wrenching. Realistically, the Giants should be optimistic; however, nothing will come easy for them in their attempt to repeat as champions.
Image Courtesy of New York Giants