And so it begins...

I should be outside prepping for some painting I have to do, but there is rain in the forecast the next for the next few days. So, I am watching NFL pregame shows instead.

What will this season be like for the Giants?

Will the wide receivers put enough of a scare into defenses that they take a step back and open things up for the running game? That could be the key to the success of the offense. When Plaxico Burress shot the Giants in the foot by shooting himself in the leg two seasons ago, opposing linebackers and safeties took a giant step forward, packing the box and hurting their running game. I expect it to be the case more so this year than last that some of the young receivers help loosen things up for the Giants punishing ground game. Yes, there is the big question of the health and even the age of the offensive linemen, but these are five strong and proud men, and I think they can still push around most run defenses. The fullback play was weaker last year than the year before, and I am interested to see how that goes. Still, the two-prong running attack should pile up yards if opponents aren’t loading up the box.

As for the passing game, yes, I see plenty of weapons, but with the downside of too many dropped passes. I'm also concerned that speed rushers won't have much trouble getting around the tackles, especially on the left side of the line. I’ll be surprised, though, if Manning doesn’t have another 4000-yard season with this crew.

On the defensive side, the Giants’ ability to stop the run up the middle is my biggest concern. The talent at defensive end is obvious, but it will be mitigated without better play in the middle. Fred Robbins and Barry Cofield seemed far more dominant when healthy defensive ends were taking on double teams. The two DTs had come off knee surgery last year, though, and I think were hampered more than they let on. Chris Canty was similarly hurt for a good part of the year. Now Robbins is gone, and Cofield and Canty are supposed to be fully recovered, and Rocky Bernard has looked pretty solid. Today presents a really tough test for this unit—if it goes well, I will feel very good about this team.

I’m similarly curious about the linebackers. This is one unit that I expect may start off slow, but I expect may gel and play better over the first month.

Then there is the secondary, which can only get better. The Giants invested two number one picks in this unit over the last few years, and both were lost for most of last season. Their replacements did miserably. Kenny Phillips is back, and the two safeties picked up in the off season should greatly strengthen the Giants at safety. CB Aaron Ross has a plantar fascia tear, is out today, and could be hampered for a few weeks; yeah, I'm nervous about the Giants at cornerback. The Panthers will offer the Giants a good test of their secondary too.

Special teams? I think the Giants will miss Jeff Feagles… It was hard for me to gauge the rest of this unit based upon the preseason.

My prediction for today? I wonder if the hoopla surrounding the first game that counts in the new stadium will provide motivation, or if the beating handed to them by this opponent last season will. I have to think this is a better Giants defense than last year, and so will go with the Giants.

Anyway, it hasn’t started raining yet. Let me see what I can get done before kickoff…


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