The Giants and head coach Tom Coughlin never cease to amaze. New york started off the season 6-2 and looked to be running away with the division when a 4 game losing streak had nay-sayers calling for Coughlin's job (again). Then aided by winning three of their last four games, including two wins over their tanking rivals the Dallas Cowboys, the Giants barely squeaked into the playoffs. Now following two dominant performances over the Falcons and Packers, and a nail-biting overtime win over the 49ers in the NFC championship, the Giants will face the New England Patriots in the Superbowl for the second time in four years.
The offense begins and ends with quarterback Eli Manning who after making a then controversial statement that he considers himself to be an elite quarterback, backed up his talk leading the 5th ranked passing offense with 4933 yards passing and 29 touchdowns and established himself as one of the most clutch 4th quarter QB's. New York's receiving corps is led by Hakeem Nicks and Victor Cruz. Nicks (76 catches, 1192 yards, 7 touchdowns) is considered to be more of a possession receiver for this team, though he does have big play ability. Cruz had a breakout year (82 catches, 1536 yards 9 touchdowns) while playing his way into being the top target for Manning, Cruz is a lightning quick player who can line up anywhere on the field and excels in the slot. Tight-end Jake Ballard is a huge target for Eli Manning in the middle of the field at 6'6" 275 though backup TE Travis Beckum has been a bigger presence during the playoffs (3 catches for Ballard, 7 for Beckum). The running game is no longer the force it was during the Giants' march to victory in Super Bowl 42. Ahmad Bradshaw (659 yards, 9 touchdowns) and Brandon Jacobs (571 yards, 7 touchdowns) split the majority of the carries for New York this season but even though the Giants were dead last in the NFL in rushing yards with 1427, their 17 touchdowns on the ground was 6th in the league. Showing that if the Giants can get close to the end zone, expect them to be able to punch it in.
On defense the Giants' strength is on the D-line getting pressure on the opposing quarterback. New york finished the regular season tied for third in the league in sacks with 48 while D-linemen accounted for 41.5 led by breakout DE Jason Pierre-Paul's 16.5 sacks. New York's defense was 27th in the league in yardage allowed and a banged up secondary gave up 4082 passing yards (29th in NFL) and 28 touchdowns (25th in NFL). Safety Antrel Rolle led the Giants in with 82 solo tackles which can be attributed to both his aggressive play as well as an average ability of the front seven to stop the run.
New York's special teams are almost a non-factor. The Giants didn't have a single return for a touchdown, and kicker Lawrence Tynes was average at best this year only making 79% of his field goals.
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