You knew it was only a matter of time, but it appears the Giants have their first "nobody believes in us" poster-board material of the 2009 season. Mike Florio of Yahoo! Sports has written an article titled "Six NFL Playoff Teams that Might Not Make it Back" in which he lists the Giants as one of the six teams he predicts will be on the outside looking in come January. Here's what he had to say:
...the Giants can't consistently move the ball without a high-end wideout like Plaxico Burress. Apart from what he does when he catches the ball, his mere presence opens up the rest of the offense by requiring teams to devote two defenders to him at all times.
So, once he was gone for the year due to an unfortunate incident involving a gun, a bullet and his leg, the Giants weren't the same.
He's now gone for good, and even though rookies Hakeem Nicks and Ramses Barden might replace his production, they won't command the same respect that essentially reduces the field to 10-on-9.
I have a feeling we're going to be hearing this story line quite a bit as the season draws closer. If you'll remember, last year there was a lot of talk about how the Giants couldn't possibly repeat because the losses of Michael Strahan, Osi Umenyiora, Kawika Mitchell, and Gibril Wilson would prove to be too much for the defense to sustain. The media overplayed that storyline, and I believe they are overplaying this one as well. Losing Plax will hurt, but I don't think it's going to cripple the offense as much as many are predicting. The Giants still have a great offensive line, one of the more unstoppable running backs in the game, and a Super Bowl MVP quarterback. Their defense looks to be even stronger than last year with their free agency acquisitions. The season's still a long ways away and anything can happen once it gets here, but to my eyes the Giants look as strong in May as I can ever remember.
I cut out the part of his article where Florio admitted that he picked the Giants to miss the playoffs last season as well, so he has a track record for this. I did some searching and found his column from last May, and it might make you feel better to know he only got three out of his six picks correct. The other two teams he was wrong about were the 13-win Tennesse Titans and the eventual Super Bowl Champion Pittsburgh Steelers. His reasoning for the Steelers last year was even similar to his reasoning for the Giants this year (lost a key player, replacing him with two rookies). Let's hope he's as wrong about the Giants as he was about Pittsburgh last year!