Two interesting things to watch at Giants training camp. The first involves whether the team is going to sign Eli Manning to a massive long-term extension or let him play out his final season as San Diego is apparently doing with Philip Rivers. The team says it's willing to break the bank for Manning, and apparently officials have acknowledged that the front-loaded four-year, $87.4 million extension Ben Roethlisberger signed with the Steelers earlier this offseason is a template for Manning.
The other story line belongs to defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul. The team slapped the franchise tag on him this offseason but then pulled it after Pierre-Paul injured his hand in a fireworks accident on July 4 and had to have a finger amputated and suffered a broken thumb. The 26-year-old two-time Pro Bowler, who had 12 1/2 sacks last season, is expected to miss most of training camp, but they say the amputated finger really shouldn't affect his job. The Giants reported on Thursday with practices beginning Friday.
New York was 3-5 on the road last season, 3-5 against the spread and 6-2 "over/under. The Giants' 2015 road schedule ranks as the 10th-easiest in the NFL with an opponents' combined 2014 winning percentage of .461. It's the second-easiest in the NFC East (Dallas).
Here's the schedule with very early (opponent) odds.
Sept. 13 -- at Cowboys (-5.5): What better way to start things off for New York than a Sunday night game at the defending NFC East champions. I'm sure the Giants were hoping that Dallas star receiver Dez Bryant would have held out for the first few games, but he got his new deal. New York lost 31-21 in Dallas in Week 7 last season. The Giants lost two fumbles, the first of which came at a point when the game was still in question. Manning played well, completing 21-for-33 for 248 yards, three scores and no picks. Odell Beckham Jr. got his Offensive Rookie of the Year season kick-started with two TD catches. Giants lose this. Key trend: Giants 2-8 ATS in past 10 as road dog of at least 5 points in series.
Oct. 4 -- at Bills (-3): Extra time to rest up for the Giants as they host Washington on Thursday night in Week 3. Buffalo comes off a trip to Miami. Least it's not a long road trip for the G-Men. Of course, new Buffalo coach Rex Ryan used to steal all the New York tabloid headlines with the Jets. First Giants trip to Buffalo since 2007, and they lose this. Key trend: Giants 8-1-1 ATS in past 10 at AFC East.
Oct. 19 -- at Eagles (-4): Monday night game and New York's first look at the retooled Eagles. The Giants are off a Week 5 home matchup vs. San Francisco, while Philadelphia comes off a home game vs. New Orleans. New York lost at Philly in Week 6 last year, 27-0, to start the season-crushing seven-game losing streak. That was also the game Giants receiver Victor Cruz was carried off the field with a season-ending knee injury. Manning was sacked six times and threw for only 151 yards. Giants lose this. Key trend: Giants 4-6 ATS in past 10 as dog of at least 3.5 points in series.
Nov. 1 -- at Saints (-2): Potential trap game for New York off a Week 7 home matchup against those Cowboys. New Orleans is in Indianapolis the previous Sunday. The Manning name is royalty in the city of New Orleans as Eli and Peyton grew up there, with dad Archie formerly the most popular Saint in history before Drew Brees. So this likely will have extra meaning for Eli. Giants haven't played in Big Easy since getting blown out in 2011. They lose this one, too. Key trend: Giants 6-4 ATS in past 10 at NFC South.
Nov. 8 -- at Buccaneers (+2): Here's another potential trap game off the trip to New Orleans and ahead of a Super Bowl rematch vs. the Patriots at home in Week 10 for New York. Tampa is off a trip to Atlanta in Week 8. First meeting between No. 1 overall picks Eli and the Bucs' Jameis Winston. New York hasn't been to Tampa since 2009. Giants win here. Key trend: Giants 3-7 ATS in past 10 as road favorite.
Nov. 29 -- at Redskins (+1): This is off New York's bye week and completes the season series with the Redskins. Washington is in Carolina in Week 11. Giants won at Washington on a Thursday in Week 4 last year, 45-14. Manning threw for 300 yards and four touchdowns, three to previously unknown tight end Larry Donnell (all in the first half). Eli also had a 1-yard TD run and New York put up 449 yards of offense. The Giants forced six Redskins turnovers, picking off backup QB Kirk Cousins four times. Giants win this. Key trend: Giants 4-5-1 ATS in past 10 after a bye (any location).
Dec. 14 -- at Dolphins (-3): Monday nighter. New York off a home game against the Jets, while Miami is home to Baltimore in Week 13. This game will be packed with Giants fans this late in the season. Half of Miami is New Yorkers, especially in the winter. First Giants trip there since 2007. They lose this one. Key trends: Giants 6-4 ATS in past 10 regular-season December road games as a dog of at least 3 points.
Dec. 27 -- at Vikings (-1.5): New York off a Week 15 game vs. Carolina, while Minnesota is home to Chicago the previous Sunday. Barring the Vikings making the playoffs, this will be their final game outdoors at the University of Minnesota before a move to the new stadium. New York won last meeting, 23-7 at home on October 2013. Don't like Giants here, however, in what should be bitter conditions. Key trend: Giants 7-3 ATS in past 10 at NFC North.
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