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Online Giants Lines & Predictions - New York Future Odds - Free NFL Betting Previews

2006 New York Giants Season Preview

2006 Giants NFL News - August 22nd, 2006
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When does an 11-5 record, which comes complete with a team's first division title in five years and first playoff berth in three seasons, not elicit an overwhelming amount of good feelings?

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When the season concludes like the New York Giants' 2005 campaign did, that's when.

The enduring image both Giants fans and NFL observers took from the team's otherwise impressive year was the 23-0 home meltdown Tom Coughlin's squad absorbed in the Wild Card round. It was an embarrassing end to an emotional rollercoaster of a season, one that saw Giants ownership figures Wellington Mara and Bob Tisch pass away within a month of one another, saw the play of franchise quarterback Eli Manning reach both lofty heights and dismal lows, and saw a defense that was a strength for the vast majority of 2005 crumble under the weight of its numerous injuries.

Due to the way the Giants' year careened to a halt, in addition to some other external circumstances - the Redskins' first playoff win in six years, Terrell Owens' relocation to Dallas, and the renewed health of the Eagles' Donovan McNabb, most notably - the G-Men are not universally regarded as the NFC East's team to beat in 2006.

Is it possible that the best team currently residing in the nation's largest market, and a reigning division winner, could still be something of a sleeping Giant?

Below we take a capsule look at the 2006 edition of the New York Giants, with a personnel evaluation and prognosis included therein:

2005 RECORD: 11-5 (1st, NFC East)

LAST PLAYOFF APPEARANCE: 2005, lost to Carolina, 23-0, in NFC Wild Card Game

COACH (RECORD): Tom Coughlin (17-15 in two seasons with Giants, 85-75 overall)



OFFENSIVE STAR: Tiki Barber, RB (1860 rushing yards, 54 receptions, 11 TD)

DEFENSIVE STAR: Michael Strahan, DE (81 tackles, 11.5 sacks)

OFFENSIVE TEAM RANKS: 6th rushing, 11th passing, 3rd scoring

DEFENSIVE TEAM RANKS: 12th rushing, 27th passing, 14th scoring

FIVE KEY GAMES: Indianapolis (9/10, at Philadelphia (9/17), at Seattle (9/24), at Dallas (10/23), at Carolina (12/10)

KEY ADDITIONS: QB Rob Johnson (free agent), WR Sinorice Moss (2nd Round, Miami (FL)), TE Boo Williams (from Saints), OL Grey Ruegamer (from Packers), DE Mathias Kiwanuka (1st Round, Boston College), LB LaVar Arrington (from Redskins), LB Brandon Short (from Panthers), LB Gerris Wilkinson (3rd Round, Georgia Tech), CB R.W. McQuarters (from Lions), CB Sam Madison (from Dolphins), CB Jason Bell (from Texans), S Will Demps (from Ravens), S Quentin Harris (from Cardinals)

KEY DEPARTURES: G Jason Whittle (released), DT Kenderick Allen (released), DT Kendrick Clancy (to Cardinals), LB Nick Greisen (to Jaguars), LB Barrett Green (released), CB Will Peterson (released), CB Will Allen (to Dolphins), S Shaun Williams (to Panthers), S Brent Alexander (released)

QB: Eli Manning (3762 passing yards, 24 TD, 17 INT) definitely made strides in his first complete season as an NFL starter, though the fact that he threw 10 touchdown passes versus 15 interceptions in his final nine contests, including the playoff shutout loss to the Panthers, was lost on few Giants fans. The team and its supporters will be looking for fewer mistakes out of the former No. 1 overall pick in his third year. If Manning goes down, watch out. The backups will be two of the following three players: Tim Hasselbeck, whose five career NFL starts all came in 2003; Rob Johnson, who sat out the last two years following Tommy John surgery and who last took a live snap in '03; and Jared Lorenzen, who was inactive for all 16 games as a rookie last season.

RB: Those who were sure that Tiki Barber's (1860 rushing yards, 54 receptions, 11 TD) 1,500-yard season of 2004 was a fluke were rocked by the diminutive running back's 2005, as he averaged 5.2 yards per rush and soared to his second consecutive Pro Bowl appearance. The 31-year-old Barber is bound to start hearing more frequent questions about his age, but there is every reason to believe he can be an every-down back for at least a couple more years. Even so, the Giants would like to start getting Brandon Jacobs (99 rushing yards, 7 TD), the team's second-year man out of Southern Illinois, a few more touches. Jacobs was used primarily as a short-yardage back last season, carrying the ball just 12 times in the season's second half. Derrick Ward (123 rushing yards) might miss the start of the season due to a broken foot, perhaps opening the door for James Sims, a rookie free agent out of Washington, to make the club. The reliable Jim Finn (13 receptions) is set for his fourth season with the G-Men.

WR/TE: The Giants brought Plaxico Burress (76 receptions, 7 TD) in prior to last season to be Manning's primary receiver, and while his numbers suggest that he filled that role and then some, there were games, particularly during the second half, when Burress was invisible. Perhaps in reaction, the Giants used a second-round draft pick on Sinorice Moss (Miami (FL)), who is expected to eventually unseat Amani Toomer (60 receptions, 7 TD) as the No. 2 receiver and in turn take more of the pressure off Burress. Toomer, who will be 32 when the season begins, had a bounce-back season last year but is undoubtedly in decline. Vying for jobs as the fourth and fifth receivers will be holdovers Tim Carter (10 receptions), David Tyree (5 receptions, 1 TD), and Willie Ponder, along with newcomer Triandos Luke. Tyree and Ponder, both of whom are valuable on special teams, may have a slight edge over Carter and Luke. At tight end, Jeremy Shockey (65 receptions, 7 TD) and Visanthe Shiancoe (8 receptions) both return, with former Saint Boo Williams attempting to win a backup job as well.

OL: The New York line could hardly have been characterized as dominating in 2005, but it did a good enough job blocking for Barber and keeping Manning upright to be welcomed back in its entirety for 2006. The right side is probably the strength, with up-and-coming guard Chris Snee and tackle Kareem McKenzie holding down the fort. The rest of the group is mediocre, as left tackle Luke Petitgout is probably better-suited for the right side, guard David Diehl is a somewhat anonymous utility man, and center Shaun O'Hara is reliable but rarely stands out either. O'Hara sprained his right MCL during the preseason, but should be ready in time for the opener. Depth will come from holdovers Rich Seubert and Bob Whitfield, former Packer Grey Ruegamer, and perhaps fourth-round draft choice Guy Whimper (East Carolina).

DL: The Giants' pass rush was arguably the best in the NFL last season, as opponents could ill-afford to double-team Michael Strahan (81 tackles, 11.5 sacks) lest they get a heavy dose of Osi Umenyiora (70 tackles, 14.5 sacks) on the other side. Both made the Pro Bowl, and a third potential stud, Mathias Kiwanuka (Boston College) was added via a first-round pick to make the strong even stronger. Justin Tuck (31 tackles, 1 sack) will add depth at end along with Kiwanuka. On the interior, William Joseph (19 tackles, 2 sacks) and Fred Robbins (26 tackles, 1.5 sacks) are back, but following the free agent defection of Kendrick Clancy (37 tackles, 2 sacks), the team is thin on tackle depth. Fourth-round draft pick Barry Cofield (Northwestern), seldom-used holdover Damane Duckett, and former practice squad member Jonas Seawright will all be given an opportunity to contribute.

LB: Coughlin's club was ravaged by injuries to the linebacking corps late last season, with the high ankle sprain suffered by MLB Antonio Pierce (99 tackles, 2.5 sacks, 2 INT) coming as the most crushing blow. Pierce is back and healthy for '06, and the team added another major name when it picked up LaVar Arrington (47 tackles with the Redskins) to man the strong side. Veteran Carlos Emmons (48 tackles, 1 INT), who dealt with his own share of injuries last season, is penciled in as the starter on the weak side, though holdover Reggie Torbor (44 tackles, 1 INT), rookie Gerris Wilkinson (3rd Round, Georgia Tech), and former Panther Brandon Short (60 tackles with Carolina) will all make bids to claim his minutes. The added depth at linebacker could make reserves such as Chase Blackburn (31 tackles, 1 INT) expendable.

DB: Coughlin made no secret of the fact that he was unhappy with the play of the secondary last season, thus dispensing with the likes of Will Allen (72 tackles), Will Peterson, Shaun Williams (19 tackles, 2 INT) and Brent Alexander (61 tackles, 4 INT) and bringing in reinforcements like cornerbacks Sam Madison (55 tackles, 2 INT with the Dolphins), R.W. McQuarters (60 tackles, 1 INT with the Lions), and free safety Will Demps (52 tackles with the Ravens). Madison and Demps should step into starting roles right away, with holdovers in corner Corey Webster (37 tackles) and strong safety Gibril Wilson (112 tackles, 3 sacks, 2 INT) expected to round out the first unit. McQuarters, fellow newcomer Quentin Harris (39 tackles with the Cardinals) and holdovers Curtis Deloatch (56 tackles, 1 INT) and James Butler (35 tackles, 2 INT) are among the top candidates to win reserve jobs

SPECIAL TEAMS: Other than a notable meltdown in Seattle, kicker Jay Feely (35-42 FG) did a nice job in his first season with the Giants. He will be back along with his holder, punter Jeff Feagles (42.1 avg.), who has appeared in an NFL record 288 consecutive games. Chad Morton (23.3 kickoff return avg., 9.6 punt return avg., 1 TD) provided a spark on returns last year, and the newly- acquired McQuarters has three career touchdowns on punt returns.

PROGNOSIS: The Giants weren't truly awful in any area of the depth chart last season, and apart from the offensive line, they have seemingly upgraded those areas (receiver, linebacker, secondary) that were simply average last season. It is because of that solid base of talent that the G-Men are probably the safest bet to win the NFC East in 2006. Manning should have more confidence and command, his supporting cast is stronger, and the defense has more playmakers in the form of Kiwanuka, Arrington, Madison, and Demps, among others. Barring anything unforeseen, this team has the pieces to reach the playoffs, and if it can peak at the right time, has a shot to emerge from the NFC pack and reach the Super Bowl.

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