NFL Training camp season is always a time for irrational exuberance. Every team thinks it can win the Super Bowl, even though 31 of those teams will end being horribly wrong. And so, to preview the upcoming NFL season, which could be the most unpredictable ever, we now give you five reasons why your favorite team could win the Super Bowl. Today, it's the New York Giants.
1. Because the whole Osi saga won't affect them that much. Defensive end Osi Umenyiora has been the talk of Giants camp after demanding a raise from his current salary and then undergoing knee surgery just two weeks ago, which was a bit of a shady move. But the good news for Giants fans is that Osi's replacement, Jason Pierre-Paul, is probably better anyway, and that Pierre-Paul and Justin Tuck still give this team the kind of bookend pass rush that can single-handedly win games. New York will need that to happen a lot this season, because the rest of the team has a few issues, most notably...
2. Uh Eli, would you please stop turning the ball over? QB Eli Manning turned the ball over 30 times last season. In fact, the entire Giants team led the league in turnovers last season, which surely made Tom Coughlin's nose turn a deeper shade of scarlet. Eli is a talented fellow, but he's yet to really build on his spectacular playoff run in 2007, a run that seems more and more miraculous as the years go by and Eli continues to be aggressively uneven. Eli has always struggled with accuracy, and that problem may worsen this year because the Giants are starting all over along the offensive line. However, all is not lost.
3. Hakeem Nicks is a BEAST. The Giants top wideout scored 11 touchdowns in just 13 games last season. When Nicks is healthy, he's the kind of wideout who can make life a whole lot easier for the entire Giants offense. Say what you will about Eli's perpetual inconsistency (he's almost an accepted evil of tri-state area living now, like high rents and beach traffic), he's more than capable of doing damage with Nicks and Mario Manningham (taking over fulltime for Steve Smith) running down the field. The Giants will be able to score. If they can do it without amassing their usual turnovers, they have a chance.
4. Brandon Jacobs looks kinda useful. You'd think the Giants and Brandon Jacobs would have parted ways by now, what with the helmet throwing and all that. Instead, Jacobs has come back into the fold and has, in the preseason, looked excellent. He even got ejected from the Jets game, which means he's already in midseason form. A rejuvenated Jacobs and Ahmad Bradshaw, who busted out last year with over 1,200 yards on the ground, gives New York one of the best backfield combinations in football. It's easy to overlook the Giants' offense because the names have become familiar to the point of contempt. But there's enough firepower here, provided, as we already said, that O-line doesn't fall apart.
5. And now a word from a Giants fan. I asked diehard Giants fan and Grantland writer Katie Baker to explain why you, the Giants fan, should be excited for the 2011 season. She writes, "Not since 2007 has there been a more subdued and melancholy fanbase heading into a Giants season. And coaching staff: this press conference with Tom Coughlin is maaaaybe the most depressing I've ever read. ("Q: Do you think Eli has the trust in his receivers that he needs to have? A: I certainly think it depends on who you are talking about.") The team has substantial cap constraints, and yet opposing fans would be hard-pressed to name more than a handful of our players. The ghost of Jason Sehorn haunts the team. The Jets are New York's new darlings. But the night is always darkest before the dawn, and last time the conventional wisdom went so virulently against the Giants at the beginning of a season, the team went out and won a #@()%*@ Super Bowl." True that, lady. True that.