Ahead of the 2018 NFL season, we’re bringing you a series outlining which teams are getting too much hype and what rosters are sneakily going under the radar.
Disclaimer: I hate your favourite team, regardless of who they are. Please bear this in mind if it makes you feel better after hearing about how your team aren’t half as good as they think they are.
New York Giants: Projected Win Total 7 – Evens
I first saw this win total and scratched my head. Granted, the NFC East is not a division I’d want to be in, especially if you’re based in the nation’s capital – but this Giants team is better than last year and we’re only twelve months departed from them being the consensus dark horses for the Super Bowl.
So what happened?
Well, their out-of-division schedule is brutal. They go to Houston, Carolina and Atlanta, all of whom have +.500 projected win totals. Ouch. Now, that’s the bad news out of the way.
Eli Manning always struck me as comfortable. It hampered his play because he’s a distinctly average quarterback – I have a ‘line’ that revolves around him; if you’re worse than him, you’re terrible and vice versa. He’s won two Super Bowls despite being the least talented of the big three that came out of the 2004 Draft – Manning, Rivers and Roethlisberger – yet still has as many championships to his name as those two combined.
He played with an arrogance and almost strutted like he felt he had done enough to solidify his place in the Hall of Fame by the time he turned 30. He was benched in week 13 last year and he’ll now bounce back to reality. And let me tell you – he has the cast to do it.
Everyone makes a big deal of Pittsburgh’s endless play-calling possibilities and the Giants have a shrewd head coach in Pat Shurmur to capitalise on their similar situation. Saquon Barkley is the most exciting running back prospect since LaDainian Tomlinson and Odell Beckham isn’t a one-man band with Sterling Shepard around. They also picked up the underappreciated Cody Latimer in the off-season.
Evan Engram cannot be covered by any safety or linebacker in this league – and both he and Hunter Henry are the future at the position. With another year of experience under his belt, Engram is set for a huge season.
They have lost Weston Richburg, who was a premium free agent at center, but they did a nice job in the off-season of solidifying the outside protection in bringing in Tom Brady’s pal Nate Solder and drafting the best offensive lineman in last year’s draft – Will Hernandez. Barkley is more suited to outside runs so this will compensate.
Jason Pierre-Paul jetted off to Tampa Bay but this will provide more game time for Dalvin Tomlinson on the edge. He and Olivier Vernon will line up either side of ‘Snacks’ Harrison who is still, bar Aaron Donald, the best true defensive tackle left in the league.
It’s in the linebacking corps that they truly improved, though. Alec Ogletree and Connor Barwin join one of the steals of the draft in Lorenzo Carter in their front seven. That’s a very tough unit to run against and Landon Collins and Darian Thompson is one of the stronger safety pairings in the league. If Eli Apple grows up a bit, he’ll partner Janoris Jenkins on the outside, with veteran William Guy likely playing in the slot.
It’s hard to find many problems in-house. Honestly, if you were to look at the starting 22s in the league, you won’t find ten better than the G Men’s. They lack depth so they’re rolling the dice somewhat in terms of injuries, but if they avoid the treatment table, they’re an outside shot to make the NFC Championship game, let alone the playoffs.
Though if Eli wins another ring before Philip Rivers, I’m giving up on sport.
UNDERRATED – 9 WINS
*All odds correct at time of posting