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10 bold predictions for the New York Giants’ 2016 season

Training camp is here, so it’s time to look into the crystal ball

NFL: New York Giants-OTA
Darian Thompson makes an interception during OTAs.
Ed Mulholland-USA TODAY Sports

The New York Giants begin official preparations for the 2016 NFL season on Thursday as players report for training camp. Let’s take my aching back out on a limb this morning and make 10 bold predictions for the Giants this season.

  1. Eli Manning has his best statistical regular season — Maybe this one isn’t so bold, since I have seen other analysts predict that Manning could win his first regular-season MVP or earn his first All-Pro nod after the 2016 season. At 35, Manning hasn’t lost any arm strength yet and he appears more than comfortable in his third year running Ben McAdoo’s completion-friendly offense. Toss in what looks like it could be the best array of pass-catching weapons Manning has had in several seasons. Maybe, just maybe, this will be the year Manning finally throws fewer than 10 interceptions.
  2. Odell Beckham leads the league in receptions — If Manning is going to have the kind of year he seems capable of having, Beckham is going to be a driving force behind it. Forget all of the off-the-field drama — the women, living in Drake’s house, adulation from foreign fans — I still believe Beckham is driven to be the best in the league at what he does.
  3. Darian Thompson starts at free safety Week 1 — The deeper the Giants got into spring practices, the more things seemed to be trending in that direction. The third-round pick seemed comfortable and did nothing to dissuade anyone from believing he couldn’t be the same type of ball hawk at the NFL level that he was at Boise State.
  4. The Giants keep three quarterbacks — I have no clue if Logan Thomas will be that No. 3 quarterback, but as hard as the Giants are working to identify a third QB I have to believe they are serious about keeping one. It’s something Tom Coughlin didn’t like to do. Truth is, though, I think there is more Mike McCarthy in Ben McAdoo than there is Coughlin, and the Green Bay Packers generally keep a third quarterback. I think the Giants try to protect themselves against the eventual departure of Ryan Nassib, a free agent after the season.
  5. Sterling Shepard and Dwayne Harris BOTH catch more passes than Victor Cruz — And I sincerely hope I’m wrong.
  6. Devon Kennard has a huge year — The third-year linebacker flashed big-time playmaking ability as a rookie, then had a stunningly quiet sophomore season. Injuries slowed him in both campaigns. I think Kennard finally puts together a healthy season and, playing behind a defensive line that should more than hold its own, he finally becomes the linebacker wrecking ball Giants fans have been coveting for many years.
  7. Paul Perkins becomes a force by midseason — After missing most of the spring due to a league rule not allowing him to practice until his class at UCLA had graduated, Perkins is behind as camp opens. There are also a number of veterans in line ahead of him. I think, though, that sooner or later the Giants will turn to the exciting rookie running back. It feels like Perkins is the team’s future at running back. Don’t be surprised if that future starts some time before the 2016 season ends.
  8. The Giants finally win a season opener — They haven’t done that since 2010 when they beat the Carolina Panthers. That is five straight openers, including three to the Dallas Cowboys. The Giants get the ‘Boys again this year, and I think it’s time the tables get turned.
  9. Ereck Flowers justifies the Giants’ faith — The Giants lost out on a number of veteran free agent offensive tackles during the offseason and a big part of the reason was their insistence that Flowers, their 2015 first-round pick, is staying at left tackle. Flowers might not play at a Pro Bowl level in 2016, but he will show enough improvement under the tutelage of offensive line coach Mike Solari to justify the decision to leave him at that critical spot.
  10. Ben McAdoo calls the offensive plays — Actually, I’m not sure this is a bold prediction at all. McAdoo called the plays the last two years and has admitted how much he loves doing so. Even as a rookie head coach with team-wide responsibilities I can’t imagine he would turn that duty over to offensive coordinator Mike Sullivan, who only has one year of experience in this offense.