When the New York Giants won the Super Bowl two seasons ago they finished 9-7 during the regular season. Tom Coughlin's team matched that mark last season, but didn't even get the opportunity to defend their title as they missed the playoffs.
A one-point, Week 13 loss at Washington ended up being the deciding factor, as the Giants lost three of their final five games, allowing the Redskins to edge them out for the NFC East title by one win.
There has been some turnover on the roster, with several veterans departing through free agency or getting released outright. The offense is virtually intact with All-Pro wide receiver Victor Cruz signing a long-term contract and 2012 first-round pick David Wilson ready to assume a more prominent role. The defense lost quite a bit of experience, especially along the line, and needs both Jason Pierre-Paul and Justin Tuck to bounce back and be as disruptive as they were two seasons ago. The Giants finished tied for third in the NFL in sacks with 48 in 2011. That number dropped to just 33 (22nd) last season.
With Manning and the weapons he has in place, the Giants should score plenty of points. The key to their season will be how much better will the defense be? This unit had too many breakdowns in coverage last season that led to big plays, a reason why it finished second-to-last in the league in yards allowed (383.4 per game).
What will the Giants' record be at the end of the 2013 regular season? Athlon’s panel of experts debates:
New York Giants' 2013 Game-by-Game Predictions
at Kansas City
at Chicago (Thurs.)
at San Diego
Braden Gall (@BradenGall)
The Giants have historically started quickly under Tom Coughlin and, despite potentially losing the first two, should have a winning record heading into the bye week (Week 9). This team is good enough to beat anyone on any week and inconsistent enough to lose to offensively-geared teams like the Panthers, Chiefs, Bears and Eagles on the road. This offense will be explosive but New York will struggle to beat teams with great offenses — like there might be in the NFC East — due to a slow deterioration in the front seven. The Giants are the least inconsistent team in a wildly inconsistent division so the 10 wins should give them an NFC East title, but likely removes all first-round bye conversations.
Steven Lassan (@AthlonSteven)
The NFC East is one of the toughest divisions to peg this preseason. The Giants are my pick to win the East, but it wouldn’t surprise me if all of these teams finish right around the 9-7 or 8-8 mark. The defense ranked 31st in the NFL in yards allowed last year and there weren’t many big-time additions. The Giants need defensive ends Jason Pierre-Paul and Justin Tuck to return to form, which would help not only the pass rush, but a secondary that ranked 28th in the league in 2012. With question marks about the defense, quarterback Eli Manning may need to win a handful of high-scoring games in 2013. Assuming the Giants win the division, they will be a tough out in the playoffs and are capable of putting together another Super Bowl run. However, the defense has to make significant progress for coach Tom Coughlin to hoist the Lombardi Trophy.
By and large, this is the same Giants team that went 9-7 last season and just missed the playoffs. As long as Eli Manning is upright, this team should be able to stay in the thick of the NFC East race, and in fact, with explosive running back David Wilson ready to take on a larger role, this offense has the potential to be even more dangerous this season. The defense must play better than it did last season, especially when it comes to generating a consistent pass rush and limiting the breakdowns in coverage that led to big plays.
The opening two games won't be easy, but if the Giants start out strong like they have done under Tom Coughlin they should be in a good position by the time the bye week comes around in Week 9. The going gets a little tougher after that, especially in Weeks 11-13, but a strong finish should keep the Giants in playoff contention and give this core at least one more chance at a third Super Bowl title during the Manning/Coughlin era.
Ralph Vacchiano (@RVacchianoNYDN), New York Daily News
The Giants will do what they always do under Tom Coughlin – get off to a hot start. In Coughlin’s nine seasons they’ve started 6-2 six times and they’ve never started worse than 5-3. It’s the second half where things usually get dicey, and this season should be no different. They almost always stumble early in the second half, lose a game at home they shouldn’t, then rally in December. In three of the last four seasons that rally fell short, but this year should be different. If they’re healthy — especially WR Hakeem Nicks and DE Jason Pierre-Paul — they should be in the playoff and division races right until the final week of the season. And with a win in their home finale against the Redskins, they’ll finish 10-6 and get in.
Ed Valentine (@bigblueview), Big Blue View
The Giants still have the core from the 2011 Super Bowl team, and a year after the disappointment of not making the playoffs are determined not to let that happen again. New York has an explosive offense led by Eli Manning and a deep receiving corps. Most of the questions on this team are about defense, where the Giants ranked 31st in the league a season ago. Jason Pierre-Paul's back surgery doesn't help, but the Giants should be better on defense this season. Maybe not dominant, but at least adequate.
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