New York Giants Are The Team to Beat In NFC East


Yes, you read that title right, I’m talking about the same New York Giants who haven’t made the playoffs since 2011, haven’t had a record better than 9-7 since 2010 and who finished third place in the NFC East last season at 6-10.

Those Giants have emerged this offseason as the team to beat in the NFC East. Yes I am talking about the division of the Dallas Cowboys, who were a Dez Bryant catch away from the NFC Championship in 2014. The Eagles were neck and neck with the Cowboys for the division title, most of the season. Yet it is the Giants who will win the division in 2015.

Am I out of my mind? Possibly, (or at least that’s what the doctors tell me) but in this case I am right on the money and I’ll explain why.

Dec 28, 2014; East Rutherford, NJ, USA; New York Giants quarterback

Eli Manning

(10) scrambles against the Philadelphia Eagles at MetLife Stadium. The Eagles defeated the Giants 34-26. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

Yes, it is only mid-March and we are still a couple of weeks away from the NFL Draft, but based on the wild start to free agency and the moves made by the teams in the NFC East, it is clear that the Giants have upgraded while all the other teams have downgraded greatly.

For example, the Dallas Cowboys didn’t even try to re-sign running back DeMarco Murray who was the backbone of their entire team in 2014. Murray rushed for 1,845 yards with 13 touch downs and also had 57 receptions for 416 yards receiving.

Murray was a huge loss for Dallas. With him and that massive offensive line, the pressure was taken off of the turnover prone Tony Romo. This allowed them to dominate time of possession.

This meant less turnovers for the Cowboys’ offense as well as less time that their lackluster defense spent on the field to be exposed.

Murray’s outstanding season covered up a lot of their flaws on both sides of the ball. That was proven in games last year when the Cowboys usually lost when they had trouble running the ball because it exposed their flaws on defense and the erratic Romo on offense.

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Who did the Cowboys replace Murray with? They signed none other than draft bust Darren McFadden. McFadden has always had great potential, but has only played one full season (which happened to be last season) since his rookie year in 2008.

In his first full season in 2014, McFadden was only able to rush for 534 yards and 2 touchdowns. Now granted, he played on the Oakland Raiders, but running backs with similar talent who have played on bad teams (Adrian Peterson, Maurice Jones-Drew) have always found ways to produce over the years.

McFadden’s injuries have clearly caught up with him and have taken away a lot of his burst. Even behind the Cowboys’ great offensive line, McFadden will not come close to being the playmaker that Murray was and is a high injury risk especially if he is going to be the workhorse running back.

This will force Romo to throw more which means presents galore for opposing defenses, and more time on the field for the Cowboys’ defensive flaws to be exposed. They will clearly not be as strong of a team as they were last season.

Dec 28, 2014; East Rutherford, NJ, USA; Philadelphia Eagles head coach Chip Kelly before the game against the New York Giants at MetLife Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Robert Deutsch-USA TODAY Sports

Now on to the Oregon Ducks, I mean the Philadelphia Eagles who are probably regretting handing over the keys of the entire franchise to head coach Chip Kelly.

For Giants fans, it has been humorous to watch the Eagles depart from a young, developing quarterback in Nick Foles and talented receivers DeSean Jackson and Jeremy Maclin.

Not only have they all been either traded or let go by Kelly, he then proceeds to take perhaps their best playmaker, running back LeSean McCoy, and trade him to the Buffalo Bills for linebacker Kiko Alonso (former Oregon Duck) who is coming off an ACL tear.

Kelly also overpaid for cornerback Byron Maxwell even though he hasn’t proven himself as a top-flight cornerback but since he was a part of the Seattle Seahawks’ “legion of boom” secondary. It is pretty much the equivalent of relying on Aquaman just because he was a part of the legendary Justice League and in the process, overlooking the fact that he simply isn’t very good.

The best part of it all was the trade Kelly made by shippingFoles to the St. Louis Rams for quarterback Sam Bradford and a draft pick. Bradford has had back to back season ending injuries in his young career and will be a huge question mark with the Eagles. This is especially true now that the best receiver they have is Riley Cooper who on any good team is a number three receiver at best.

Jan 4, 2015; Arlington, TX, USA; Dallas Cowboys running back DeMarco Murray (29) reacts after scoring a touchdown against the Detroit Lions during the third quarter in the NFC Wild Card Playoff Game at AT&T Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

All the Eagles’ hopes rely on newly signed running back DeMarco Murray, who is in for a rude awakening when he realizes that it will be a lot harder to find running lanes when he doesn’t have the Cowboys’ monstrous offensive line paving holes he could drive a truck through.

The Eagles are in for a rough year with sub par talent on both sides of the ball that will take a lot more than one draft to fix all thank to the genius of Kelly. The Eagles won’t be much of a factor in 2015.

Here comes the part where I would talk about the Redskins. I don’t have to however since they have been the division doormat for years and have not done much to change that this off-season. Logic tells me to expect them once again to be an awful football team. But cheer up Washington, baseball season is right around the corner and the Nationals look great!

The Giants have simply sat back and watched while the entire division has collapsed around them, making the road to a division title much easier. The Giants are the only team that has gotten better from their free agency moves in the east by addressing their depth and special teams and adding a new dimension to their offense by signing versatile running back Shane Vereen.

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The Giants will also have play-making receiver Victor Cruz returning, and with a healthy Geoff Schwartz and Weston Richburg sliding to his natural position at center, the Giants offensive line has greatly improved. This means that the Giants will have an explosive offense in 2015 that will eat up the sub par defenses around them in the division.

On defense the Giants made the smart move in re-signing defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul and gain by subtraction by letting Mathias Kiwanuka walk. This allows the talented Damontre Moore get more snaps at defensive end across from JPP which will revitalize their pass rush under aggressive defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo.

Injuries decimated the Giants’ secondary last season and flukes like that usually don’t repeat themselves. The Giants secondary will improve simply by staying healthy. Yes, the team lost safety and defensive captain Antrel Rolle, but Rolle is on the decline and it gives promising safety Nat Berhe an opportunity to become the new starter.

This draft also is perfect for the Giants to fill their holes at linebacker and on the defensive line because the draft is so deep at those positions, it will be impossible for them to not draft solid replacements.

All of these factors combined means that the Giants are on the rise, while the Cowboys, Eagles, and Redskins are all on the decline. This proves that the New York Giants are the clear team to beat in the NFC East and thanks to an easier schedule in 2015, will be harder for the rest of the division to keep up with their own teams on the decline.

Next: New York Giants: 2015 Will Be Eli Manning's Finest Season