Training camp is a distant memory, The preseason is over. The roster is built. The practice squad is almost complete. It’s time to fully turn our attention to the New York Giants 2017 regular season, which begins Sunday night against the Dallas Cowboys.
Here are five bold predictions for the upcoming season.
Eli Manning Surpasses 4,500 Passing Yards
Manning has only thrown for more than 4,500 yards in his career once, totaling 4,99 yards passing in 2011. He got close in 2014 (4,410) and 2015 (4,436) with Ben McAdoo calling the plays. With the added weapons the Giants have this year, Manning his his best year since McAdoo joined the Giants.
Jason Pierre-Paul Gets Double-Digit Sacks
I honestly don’t know how many more years of elite play Pierre-Paul has left. I don’t think it’s a lot. I do, however, think this is going to be one if what we saw in preseason is an indication. I doubt he gets to the 16-sack level he reached in 2011, but he might threaten the 12.5 sacks he got in 2014.
The only offensive tackles to not allow a sack, hit or hurry this preseason pic.twitter.com/zkDIsdSiLZ— Pro Football Focus (@PFF) September 3, 2017
Bobby Hart Is The Giants’ Most-Improved Player
We have seen signs of that already in the preseason, with Hart not allowing a single quarterback pressure in 49 pass-blocking snaps.
Dwayne Harris Has Bounce-Back Year
Travis Rudolph would be better. Ed Eagan would be better. At some point in the preseason I was told that just about anyone who wore a Giant uniform and was either a receiver or returner was better than Harris. There has pretty much been a fan base freak out at the idea of Harris being the Giants’ primary return man in 2017.
Harris wasn’t good in 2016, averaging a puny 5.9 yards per punt return and a well-below-his career-norm 24.2 yards on kickoff returns.
Harris, though, has been far better than that throughout his career. He has averages of 9.8 yards per punt return and 26.5 per kickoff return in his career, and I think he will be much closer to those numbers in 2017 — if he can stay healthy.
The 29-year-old was a physical wreck in 2016. Harris had a myriad of injuries last season — toe, ankle, back, knee and probably a few other ailments that were never made public. Here’s what Harris told Giants.com about his physical condition in 2016:
“I came close to missing a few games,” Harris said. “But I play because I love this game. My teammates have a lot of confidence in me, and when they see you have a guy who is playing through so much stuff, and he is going out there and giving it his all, it gives other guys confidence, too, to give it their all and play through stuff they normally wouldn’t play through.
“A lot of people don’t see that part of the things that I do and the physical nature of what I do. They just think that I have an easy job just running down and making tackles and catching the football. So the physical toll on my body, people don’t see that. But being recognized for what I do is tremendous, I love it.”
If Harris can stay healthy, especially keep his legs healthy, he should again be among the league’s better returners.
Tavarres King Will Reward Giants
There are many who were, and still are, upset that the Giants kept King instead of Rudolph, the undrafted rookie fan favorite with the great back story. In the end, I think King, 27, will end up justifying the Giants’ faith in him.
I said going well back into the offseason that I believe the Giants under-utilized King last season, when he caught only two regular-season passes and three in the playoff loss to the Green Bay Packers. I believe despite his preseason ankle woes he is still the fourth wide receiver entering Week 1, and that his speed will help the Giant offense.