The credit that New York Giants coach Tom Coughlin has in the metaphoric bank with the New York Giants thanks to that Super Bowl victory in the 2007 season is reportedly about gone now following last year’s 8-8 record (following a 5-0 start). By most accounts – including former linebacker Antonio Pierce – Coughlin is squarely on the hot seat if the G-Men don’t get back to the playoffs in 2010.
When you think of the Giants of recent years, you think of a strong running game and excellent defense. But the ground game last year wasn’t up to par, as featured back Brandon Jacobs hurt his knee early in the year. And while he didn’t miss any games he also didn’t break the 100-yard mark in any game and averaged just 3.7 yards per carry. Ahmad Bradshaw, who took on a bigger role with the departure of Derrick Ward, also had some injury problems and only exceeded 65 yards in a game twice. The team wound up rushing for only 1,837 yards (17th in the NFL) a season after it ran for 2,518. Really this became a passing team with Eli Manning and young, emerging receivers Steve Smith, Mario Manningham and Hakeem Nicks.
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Meanwhile, the defense was simply awful last year, as that unit surrendered 427 points -- the third-highest total in the NFL last season, behind the Detroit Lions and St. Louis Rams, and the second-most in franchise history. Opponents scored at least 40 points in five games, the first time that has happened to the Giants since 1966. That cost coordinator Bill Sheridan his job and he was replaced by Perry Fewell. The Giants brought in linebacker Keith Bulluck to replace Pierce in the middle and added safeties Antrel Rolle and Deon Grant. The key to the secondary could be if strong safety Kenny Phillips recovers from microfracture knee surgery in time for Opening Day. His injury was a killer last year.
Will New York get back to the postseason and save Coughlin’s job? The Giants’ ‘over/under’ for NFL season win totals on BetUS is 8.5 and they are +275 to win the NFC East (third in division). Let’s break down the 2010 New York Giants schedule:
Week 1: Sunday, Sep. 12, Carolina, 1:00 PM
Week 2: Sunday, Sep. 19, at Indianapolis, 8:20 PM
Week 3: Sunday, Sep. 26, Tennessee, 1:00 PM
Week 4: Sunday, Oct. 3, Chicago, 8:20 PM
Week 5: Sunday, Oct. 10, at Houston, 1:00 PM
Week 6: Sunday, Oct. 17, Detroit, 1:00 PM
Week 7: Monday, Oct. 25, at Dallas, 8:30 PM
Week 8: BYE
Week 9: Sunday, Nov. 7, at Seattle, 4:05 PM
Week 10: Sunday, Nov. 14, Dallas, 4:15 PM
Week 11: Sunday, Nov. 21, at Philadelphia, 8:20 PM
Week 12: Sunday, Nov. 28, Jacksonville, 1:00 PM
Week 13: Sunday, Dec. 5, Washington, 1:00 PM
Week 14: Sunday, Dec. 12, at Minnesota, 1:00 PM
Week 15: Sunday, Dec. 19, Philadelphia, 1:00 PM
Week 16: Sunday, Dec. 26, at Green Bay, 4:15 PM
Week 17: Sunday, Jan. 2, at Washington, 1:00 PM
This is ranked as the seventh-toughest schedule in the NFL, with an opponents’ 2009 winning percentage of .527 (135-121). New York has to like the fact it only has one back-to-back road set in consecutive weeks, that coming at the end of the year. But there’s only one division game in the first nine weeks.
It’s interesting that New York opens the New Meadowlands Stadium against the team that closed out the old Giants Stadium in 2009 with a 44-7 Week 16 win, the Carolina Panthers. Week 2 brings the hype of the Manning Bowl and it’s a prime-time national TV affair (naturally). Eli and Peyton have met just once as pros, a 26-21 Colts win in the 2006 season opener. With four of the first six at home but three of the final four on the road, the Giants will need to start fast.
The Giants should be favored at home against Chicago but haven’t beaten the Bears in a regular season home game since a 28-24 victory in Yankee Stadium on Oct. 5, 1969.
That game at Dallas in Week 7 marks the fourth year in a row the Giants' game at Dallas will be played at night. And you would have to say the bye comes in a perfect position – right after that first division game and it means the Giants don’t have to play on a short week following the Cowboys game. That is the latest the Giants have played their first division game since the 1970 merger. Last season, the Giants swept the Cowboys for the first time since 2004.
New York doesn’t see the Donovan McNabb-less Eagles until Week 11, but the Giants probably are glad to see McNabb out of Philly considering the Eagles swept New York last year (scoring 85 total points) for the first time since 2004. As for McNabb’s new team, the Giants have swept the Redskins three times in the past four years.
The Giants will play seven games against 2009 playoff teams: two each against Dallas and Philadelphia and one apiece vs. Minnesota, Green Bay and Indianapolis. They will close the season with two road games for the first time since 2005. The trip to Green Bay is the first matchup since Brett Favre’s final game as a Packer in the 2007 NFC title game.
This looks an awful lot like another 8-8 record – I’m not sure there’s a ‘lock’ road win on this schedule. Seattle probably won’t be very good but it’s never easy to travel across country to play, even after a bye. The Giants probably finish third in the division again and Coughlin probably is let go.
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