In all of the hysteria surrounding the many free-agent moves by the 'Dream Team' otherwise known as the Philadelphia Eagles, and big names players the New York Giants have both shed on purpose and lost via free agency most observers have pretty much handed the NFC East title to the Eagles.
So, it was refreshing on Tuesday for me to read one analyst who still believes the Giants are the best team in the division. The analyst is Football Scientist KC Joyner, and the post comes in the form of an ESPN Insider article.
Joyner lists eight reasons for his belief that the Giants, not the Eagles, are the best team in the division. If you are fortunate enough to have Insider you can read the whole thing. If not, I will give you his eight reasons, with some thoughts of my own.
Directly from Joyner's post:
Michael Vick wasn’t anywhere near as good as his 2010 numbers suggest
Eli Manning wasn’t anywhere near as bad as his 2010 numbers suggest
Joyner says only 19.4 percent of potential interceptions thrown by Vick actually turned into interceptions, while 52.1 percent of potential interceptions thrown by Manning actually became interceptions. The law of averages dictates that percentage should even out.
Hakeem Nicks and Mario Manningham are much better matchup-busters than DeSean Jackson and Jeremy Maclin
Joyner offers statistical evidence that Nicks and Manningham perform better against top corners than Jackson and Maclin, and offers that the Giants simply throw the ball in their direction more to offset the losses of Steve Smith and Kevin Boss.
- The Giants can largely absorb the loss of Boss/Smith with more passes to Nicks/Manningham
My take: I will stick to my prediction that, if he stays healthy this season, Travis Beckum surpasses Boss's career-best of 42 receptions. The Giants are looking for somebody to control the middle of the field, and Beckum could be that guy.
Jason Pierre-Paul and Marvin Austin could make the strong Giants pass rush even stronger
My take: In the end, I doubt the Giants wind up missing Barry Cofield much. Linval Joseph should also have a lot to do with that.
Steve Weatherford could vastly improve the Giants punting
Pat Flaherty will help New York weather the offensive line changes
My take: Flaherty is one of the best in the business. We are already seeing lots of praise for new left tackle Will Beatty. Beatty can't help but get better having to face Osi Umenyiora and Jason Pierre-Paul every day. If he can handle them, he should be able to handle just about everybody. New center David Baas is a veteran, and he should be fine.
Kenny Phillips is healthy
My take:I will go a step further. The health of Phillips, the fact that Antrel Rolle is in his second year, the return of Deon Grant, eventual help from No. 1 pick Prince Amukamara and the apparently strong camp Terrell Thomas is having should all be positive things for the Giants secondary in 2011.
Whether you agree with each of Joyner's points he is right that there are some obvious areas where the Giants should be better than they were a year ago. Regardless, it is at least nice to read at least one analyst who believes in Tom Coughlin's team.