2. New York Giants (3-13)
Oh, the Philadelphia Eagles surely are laughing at the sight of this. And rightfully so in that the Eagles were a machine most of last season, and even the Carson Wentz injury couldn’t derail their run to the franchise’s first-ever Super Bowl title. We understand the absurdity of suggesting that the bottom-barrel Giants are somehow on the Eagles’ level yet.
That said, there really wasn’t much separating these two teams when they went head to head last season — two narrow victories, each of which the Giants led in the final five minutes of play. A coaching change in New York certainly could change that dynamic just a bit, but it’s hard to imagine the Giants will be as sad offensively as they were a year ago.
As controversial as the Saquon Barkley pick might have been from a positional value standpoint, it’s not as if he can’t add a very vital element to this unit — as a runner, receiver and returner. Couple that with the return to health of Odell Beckham Jr. and Sterling Shepard, and you have the makings of a much better group. Eli Manning still must answer his critics, but he has a chance to have a twilight awakening if the offensive line holds up.
Defense is anyone’s guess. Coordinator James Bettcher might be the miracle worker he’s been hailed by some as, and maybe this underachieving secondary turns things around. The talent is there, and the front seven isn’t as bad as some people want to make it. If they can make modest improvements on special teams, too, you’re at least looking at a very solid football team — one that, don’t forget, went 11-5 in 2016.
Topping the Eagles and Cowboys will be tough, no denying that, and the Giants’ brutal early schedule is no joke. But we have a feeling they are going to be a lot more competitive by season’s end than their putrid record in 2017 suggests.