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ESPN’s Football Power Index doesn’t hold much hope for 2018 Giants

ESPN is not optimistic about Big Blue

NFL: New York Giants-OTA Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports

Organized team activities continue for the New York Giants as they ramp up their off-season program in anticipation of the 2018 regular season.

The 2017 season was, in short, an utter and complete disaster. The locker room fractured, the head coach and general manager were fired long before the final game was concluded, and ultimately an embarrassing 3-13 finish. The Giants are looking for a rebound off of — what they clearly hope to be — rock bottom.

ESPN’s Football Power Index is not terribly bullish on the chances of that happening for the Giants this year. The FPI takes a number of factors in to account, which you can read about here, but the long and the short of it is that their metrics are not optimistic regarding the Giants’ season.

All told, the FPI rates the Giants as the 26th team in the league heading in to preseason, ahead of the Buffalo Bills and just behind the Cincinnati Bengals.

The rating comes in part from their predicted efficiency in the three phases of the game (offense, defense, and special teams). The FPI does not give the Giants a positive rating in any phase of the game, topping out at 0.0, or 15th in the league. ESPN gives the Giants’ offense a -2.2 rating, and a -0.8 for the special teams, which rates them at 25th and 32nd in the league respectively.

They also factor in strength of schedule as well any advantage (or disadvantage) in rest. Despite finishing a paltry 3-13, the Giants have the fourth most difficult schedule in the league heading in to the pre-season.

Furthermore, the FPI predicts the team will “rebound” to 6.5 wins and give the Giants just a 10 percent chance of reaching the post season. Going a step further, they believe the Giants have just a six percent chance of winning the division, and less than a one percent chance of reaching the Super Bowl, let alone winning it.

Of course, this is all subject to change. The Giants’ offense in Pat Shurmur’s take on the West Coast offense could finally realize the full potential it only flashed in Ben McAdoo’s. The team is not wanting for weapons with Odell Beckham Jr., Sterling Shepard, Evan Engram, and Saquon Barkley, and Eli Manning was among the league’s best quarterbacks in the Red Zone in 2017. Likewise, James Bettcher has consistently produced solid defenses, and he has intriguing players with which to work in 2018. The Giants have also moved on from Tom Quinn and brought in a bevy of players with special teams experience to bolster what has been a forgettable unit at best.

Of course, for the team to exceed ESPN’s expectations, they will need their more rank and file players to step up. The Giants’ underperformed badly in 2017, but the onus is now on them to play above their perceived level of talent. The Giants have assembled a coaching staff that seems to be particularly concerned with teaching younger players, as well as bringing in older players to add veteran sagacity at certain positions. The hope is that the team will be able to develop young talent in a way that it hasn’t since the current CBA curtailed the off-season program in 2011.

So, is ESPN right about the Giants being in the bottom quarter of the NFL, with not much more than a prayer of playing meaningful football in January? As it stands now, there isn’t much evidence to contradict the FPI. The good news is that the team can certainly out-play these rankings come September.