Tag Archives: Eli Manning

Prognostication Is My Business: Week 3 in the 2012 NFL

Does anyone like Thursday night games? I know the players don’t as several will miss the games with injuries that typically take a full week to almost heal and I’m pretty sure the fans don’t even like it. They can only be seen on the NFL Network and your team will only be on there once a year, which is hardly a reason to switch to dish and they completely ruin Sundays if your team is playing. To be perfectly honest I don’t even like Monday Night Football. I like my Sundays. I digress. The Patriots nearly came from behind, but still lost, in a game they were favored by nearly two touchdowns while the Giants completed the comeback and won by a touchdown. Buffalo had no need for a comeback as they blew out the Chiefs and the Jets had no chance as they were stifled by the Steelers. Let’s see how they will fare this week.

@ Carolina Panthers -2.5 New York Giants

This is an awful spot for the G-Men. Hakeem Nicks, David Diehl, Ahmad Bradshaw and Domenik Hixon are all out. They are on the road against a dynamic player in Cam Newton who can eat up defenses. The reasons why the Panthers are favored is obvious and as a prognosticator I think it’s the safe bet, but induldge me for a moment and I’ll tell you why as a fan I believe they will win. We still have Eli Manning and Victor Cruz. I don’t think Bradshaw is a feature back, so that isn’t a huge loss. They haven’t had the same offensive line seemingly since 2008. Newton is prone to make mistakes in the form of interceptions so the name of the game is contain and force him to pick apart the secondary. Big Blue is a more seasoned team and can take advantage of the up and coming Panthers. Plus the Giants always do the opposite of what you think they will.

New York Jets -2.5 @ Miami Dolphins

Anything can happen in road games and more importantly in divisional games. The Jets look like a mediocre team this year, which is more than you can say for the fish. Sure both teams are 1-1, but the Dolphins had the luxury of playing a west coast team on their home turf, where they all have trouble adjusting to the new time zone. The Jets will have no such problem and will move the ball on that weak d like an offensive lineman on a buffet. Ryan Tannehill will have more growing pains. Off the field he was winning the battle with his smoking hot wife Lauren, but the Jets are pulling closer as Mark Sanchez is dating Eva Longoria. Or are they winning?

Buffalo Bills -3 @ Cleveland Browns

I’m back in on the Bills. Well in certain situations like playing quite possibly the worst team in the league. CJ Spiller is my proudest prediction thus far. Have I mentioned that yet? I think I may have. I believe that Fitzy will have a big game passing for 300 plus yards while there is another dominating performance for everybody’s favorite losers.

@ Baltimore Ravens -3 New England Patriots

My how the mighty have fallen. The Pats looked like they would roll through this season straight into their second straight Superbowl. We knew they would lose a couple, because everyone does, but the Arizona Cardinals? Now the world has lost faith in this squad as they are road dogs. The Ravens lost last week too remember? I think that Belichick has had this game circled on his calendar for months and will be prepared to baffle Flaco, shut down Ray Rice and allow Tom Brady to do what he does best. Pats win on the road.

-Erik

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Try, Try Again – Week Three Picks

Make fun of Tom Brady for the Uggs commercials but you can’t question the toughness of anyone who will get in Ray Lewis’ grill.

It’s been a pretty rough first couple weeks in terms of picking for us here at SeeYouInOctober. Last week I finished with a 1-2-1 mark thnaks to the Giants hitting the seven points on the head. Overall this season I am now 2-4-1. That’s not exactly stellar but last weekend I went 9-0 (and 6-2 against the spread) in picking college games of my full-time gig so I have a feeling things are going to start turning around.

New York Jets (-2.5) at Miami Dolphins

I’m taking another New York team on the road in this one. Miami is just so bad. I know the Dolphins took down Oakland last week but the Jets won’t be recovering from a late Monday night game and have had a full week to prepare. Revis is still questionable to play which could hurt but if the Jets secondary can’t stop Tannehill without Revis I’m not sure that they can with Revis.

Snaps for Tebow: Seven. I think the Wildcat gets a few more laps around the track this weekend. I also predicted Tebow’s first pass attempt of the season.

The Pick: Jets 24 Dolphins 12

New York Giants (+2.5) at Carolina Panthers

Boy do I love me some Cam Newton. The dude is just a beast. Reminds me a bunch of Daunte Culpepper with his ability to throw and

Love Killa’ Cam but I’m taking the Giants this week.

run over dudes. He’s better than Vick because he doesn’t crumple like wet paper towels when he gets hit. In fact he often brings the pain more than takes it. I am wary about him because he reminds me of a young LeBron and I’m terrified he will do something a la the decision that will make me turn on him.

Anyway I really like the Giants in this game. I think that win over Tampa Bay really got the momentum going and even with Hakeem Nicks and most of the rest of the roster out, Eli has clearly made it to the elite level. I also think the Panthers, while a team that will be a ton of fun to watch this season, is still locked for a 7-9 year or thereabouts.

The Pick: Giants 28, Panthers 21

Buffalo (-3) at Cleveland

C.J. Spiller is getting ready for a “Get on my back and I will carry you to 2-1” game. The Browns actually played well in week two and Brandon Weedon actually looked like a real NFL quarterback. This week the pass rush, led by Mario Williams might be too much for the 28-year-old rookie and if Spiller is for real (and I am all in on that being true) the Bills will put up their second blowout in as many weeks. Otherwise the Browns will be 2-1 and tied for first in the AFC North and really who thinks that’s going to happen?

The Pick: Bills 31 Browns 14

New England (+3) at Baltimore

From 13.5 favorite to three-point dogs. That’s what a 20-18 loss to to the effing Cardinals will do to you. Still the Patriots probably would not have been favored in this game anyway. Both teams are coming off of tough losses and desperately want  a win to stay above .500. Plus the bad blood between these teams tied in with the Patriots narrow win in the AFC title game make this a HUGE week three matchup. Still this game seems perfect for Baltimore who even without T-Suggs has a strong defense and will be out for blood against New England. Needless to say I am not looking forward to the painful Sunday night I will be enduring.

The Pick: Ravens 27 Patriots 20

-Phil

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Like A Boss Week Two

In a complete reversal from week one, the week two Like A Boss award nominees come from the New York Giants and Buffalo Bills. It’s pretty simple. You win and you get nominations. You lose and you get mercilessly left out. So let’s get to those nominees.

1 – Eli Manning

He certainly didn’t look Boss-like in the first half when he was completing more passes to the Buccaneers than his Giants teammates but the new king of comebacks turned it on in the second half. Peyton’s little brother was actually able to bounce back from those turnovers to finish with 510 yards passing and three passing touchdowns while leading the team to 25 points, that’s right 25 points, in the fourth quarter. To put that in perspective 15 teams (including Peyton’s Broncos) didn’t score 25 points in the four quarters they were involved in.

2 – Hakeem Nicks and Victor Cruz

These two get co-nominations since they both were unbelievable against Tampa Bay. Eli wouldn’t have had  the game he  had without Nicks and Cruz catching any and all objects thrown in their direction. Rumor has it that Cruz caught a cornerbacks mouth guard that flew out on a running play early in the second quarter. Nicks caught 10 passes for 199 yards and a touchdown and was named NFC Offensive Player of the Week and Cruz caught 11 passes for 179 yards and a score. It’s really a toss up who was more important which is why these two will share the nomination just like they share Eli’s passes.

3 – C.J. Spiller

If you haven’t read the Bills recap for this week then you missed out on my gushing about Clifford Spiller and his single-handedly carrying my fantasy team, oh and the actual team he plays for, this past weekend. With Fred Jackson down, Spiller was given the reigns to the offense and racked up 123 yards and two touchdowns on just 15 carries. Plus he caught a few passes for 47 yards.  Now if we can just figure out a sick nickname for him he will officially ascend into a stratosphere a Bills player hasn’t been in in a long time.

And the award goes to:

Hakeem Nicks and Victor Cruz!

Did I mention that Nicks was playing with an injury that will keep him out this week? Did I mention that both had games that would make Jerry Rice jealous? Did I mention that Nicks was named NFC Offensive Player of the Week? Well who am I to question what the NFC has already awarded.

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The Kneel Down Heard Round the League

Tommy Coughlin was fired up. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez)

New York Giants 41 Tampa Bay Buccaneers 34

Giants fans I was right there with you. “Are you kidding me?” was the first half. “Here we go again,” was the second half. Can’t they ever make things easy on us? My father, who went to see both of the Superbowls under Bill Parcels, told me long ago that it doesn’t matter how you win, a W is a W. Big Blue has never played well with a lead, they can look absolutely horrible against bad teams, and mediocre against great teams, but they’ve been to five Superbowls and won four. This Sunday we watched them play to the level of their opponent as usual and emerge with another fourth quarter victory.

Eli Manning had a rough quarter. In fact both Manning brothers threw three picks in a quarter this past weekend. Unlike big brother, Eli was able to complete the comeback as he was near perfect in the fourth quarter. It was a huge day through the air as Manning racked up 510 yards with nearly 200 going to Hakeem Nicks. Victor Cruz had a bounce back game with 11 catches for 179 yards and a touchdown. Martellus Bennett even got in on the action providing a score to go along with 72 yards. These are the kind of performances you can only find when the team is trailing the way Big Blue was after the three early turnovers.

It was the tale of two halves for Eli Manning on Sunday. (Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images)

So what changed? Manning didn’t suddenly get more accurate. Ahmad Bradshaw went out with a neck injury bringing in Andre Brown. Now I’ve never been a big fan of Bradshaw as he is often hurt and middle of the pack in terms of production. The running game hasn’t been there much at all since last season, but when Brown came in the game he got it going for 71 yards averaging nearly 5.5 per carry. When watching the games on television with the national announcers they are quick to point out the lack of continuity, health and push on the offensive line, but listening to the game on radio with Bob Papa, Carl Banks and Howard Cross, who are around the team constantly, they point out several plays designed to one side that Bradshaw will cut back and not follow his blockers. Hopefully the other backs like Brown and the rookie David Wilson, who is currently relegated mostly to kick returning after his week one fumble, will help this line gain confidence and help open the passing game.

Defensively the secondary looked out matched against Vincent Jackson especially in the first half. They made adjustments throughout the game and even got two picks off of Josh Freeman. Jason Pierre Paul and Chase Blackburn each picked up their first sack of the season. Normally giving up 34 points is an extremely poor defensive performance, but here there was one touchdown scored by the opposing defense and they were faced with short fields. In the second half the Giants won 27-10. And the one touchdown was scored on a very well covered route, but the ball bounced off the helmet of Justin Tryon, who really played a very nice game.

The real story coming out of this game had nothing to do with all of what I’ve talked about thus far. It was the final play of regulation as Big Blue lined up in victory formation to take one final kneel down, as they had done to close out the first half, and what looked like a formality turned into a controversy. The Bucs went for it as they bowled over the offensive line looking to create a fumble for the last ditch effort of a scoop and score to tie the game. It didn’t work and Tom Coughlin was mildly perturbed with rookie head coach Greg Schiano’s tactics.

I believe there is no right or wrong here. The line could have prepared themselves to make one more block, but the Bucs were making a desperate move. It had nothing to do with playing until the final whistle because in the same game they allowed the Giants to kneel to end the first half. I don’t like the fact that they did it as I believe they should have taken the defeat like men, but there was certainly nothing wrong with it.

-Erik

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Prognostication Is My Bussiness: Week 2 in the 2012 NFL

Thank goodness for the New England Patriots. If it weren’t for the hall of fame tandem of Mr. Brady and Coach Belichick both Phil and I would have totally struck out on the opening weekend. Buffal Oh No! I was nervous about that pick going into the game and they showed us why. Rex Ryan may actually know what he’s doing? And leave it to the New York Football Giants to be the first team in history to lose a slam dunk home opener post Superbowl championship. It’s always interesting here in the northeast where we shrug off losses like these and keep our sights set on the playoffs.

@ New York Giants -7 Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Have to believe the G-Men will rebound this weekend. They can’t start the season 0-2 at home and with an extra three days of rest and preparation, they will come out hungry. I think this Tampa team is much closer to the 10-6 team of two years ago rather than their putrid four wins last season, but this is a really bad spot for them. Victor Cruz dropped a few sure catches last week so you have to be worried about a sophomore slump. HOWEVA, he dropped a couple in the opener at Washington last season and was written off as fans clamored for Steve Smith. How’d that work out? Big Blue will be fine.

@ New England Patriots -13.5 Arizona Cardinals

Oh it is so tempting to say that no NFL team can win by two touchdowns. HOWEVA, these New England Patriots don’t play by those rules. The Cardinals are still trying to figure out who they are and who their quarterback is for that matter, but the Pats know exactly who they are. They are the Superbowl runner-ups (zing). That makes them angry and I almost feel bad for the teams on their schedule. With a revamped defense and an improved running game they will dominate the line of scrimmage, time of possession and, most importantly, the scoreboard.

@ Buffalo Bills -3 Kansas City Chiefs

I may not claim to know very much about the NFL, but I do know that good teams bounce back at home and you should never put too much stock in any individual game. HOWEVA, I didn’t like what I saw at all from the Bills last week. I don’t think they’re a good team, so the first rule doesn’t apply and they looked small compared to the Jets, which doesn’t get better. This KC team remembers what happened last year and after seeing what happened last week they are licking their chops. It’s going to be a rough couple weeks for the Bills, but give it a few weeks for CJ Spiller to really establish himself and for the coaching staff to put together a better game plan. Just not this week.

@ Pittsburgh Steelers -5 New York Jets

Do you think the 2012 Steelers are a good team? I’m really not sold. They are aging defensively and have some serious issues on the offensive line. In many ways they remind me of the New York Giants, but I don’t have a vested interest in their success, so I have my doubts. HOWEVA, I really did like what I saw from the Jets week one and it wasn’t the ground and pound. It was the uptempo short throws with a balanced running attack to set up play action. The defensive front line was unimpressive, but nobody can bring down Big Ben. If Revis plays, I think the Jets can win it. Either way it’s a field goal difference.

-Erik

Think I got them right? Let me know via our twitter (@seeuinoctober) or leave a comment.

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The Opening Line

It’s finally here. The humidity has broken, a few leaves are hitting the ground and tonight at the Meadowlands the Giants and Cowboys will start the 2012 NFL season. I just found out I will be working during the game, but I’ll have a radio at my disposal and Bob Papa is one of the best in the business. Since the prime time NFL games usually run till 11:30, I will get to watch most of the second half. Although there’s really no need since this game was decided once the G-Men hoisted the Lombardi trophy at the end of last season.

New York Giants -3.5 Dallas Cowboys

Reigning champs have been awarded the home opener for the past nine seasons and so far have never lost. That being said the Giants have an irritating knack for losing gimmie games. (Seattle Seahawks at home a season ago.) However, with Jason Witten being a game-time decision with a lacerated spleen and the Cowboys having the worst looking offensive line in football, Big Blue can’t mess this one up. I think the line is very close to accurate and we know it can be an epic shootout when these two quarterbacks go head to head. Giants fans make sure your viewing area is prepared for foul language, thrown remotes and kicked dogs because it will not be the walk in the park other teams would make it. Final score: 31-27.

-Erik

Will Big Blue continue the streak of 1-0 starts for defending champs? Let us know what you think via our twitter (@seeuinoctober) or leave a comment.

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Five Giant Questions

Despite the beds the Giants were back in Albany to prepare to defend their title.

Tomorrow marks the first day of the NFL season as the reigning Superbowl champion New York Giants host the Dallas Cowboys. The G-Men will begin their defense of the title missing a few heroes from this past season and some new faces looking to fill their shoes. No team goes into the season without a few questions and before I give my official prediction for the opener I will ask and try to answer some of those facing Big Blue.

1. Can the Giants produce more consistency in the running game?

Ahmad Bradshaw is an above average back, but last season the Giants ranked near the bottom of the league in rushing yards. Obviously this didn’t hurt their ability to win games when it mattered because Eli Manning took the next step forward in his progression by putting the team on his shoulder pads, but can he do it again? Let’s face it at 9-7 they were lucky to get into the playoffs and thanks to some key defensive players getting healthy put together an impressive run

Can David Willson be this year’s breakout rookie and stabilized the running game? (Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)

through the post season. This year the Eagles will get better as they have a second season with the same players and coaching staff with last season being a transitional period. The Giants will need the ground game to take time off the clock to put away teams in the fourth quarter. Bradshaw hasn’t shown the ability to stay healthy, but the rookie David Willson looks to make an impact immediately.

2. Who will be the leading receiver this season?

Victor Cruz was an unbelievable breakout star for the Giants last year. It was his ability to turn underneath routes into home-run plays that helped turned the tide of many games in the favor of New York. Fans have to be a little wary of the sophomore slump, but I don’t think that will be a problem. Cruz has now had a full training camp and what he does well doesn’t disappear. He is a precise route runner with elusive speed who showed last season during the playoffs what he could do even when teams began game planning against him. I expect Cruz to start slow as Hakeem Nicks works his way back from injury and without Mario Manningham to provide a proven third option. This is the make or break year for Ramses Barden, who did have a good camp, but we’ll see if that can translate to the playing field. I don’t believe it will. Reuben Randle however is someone to be excited about. He was a steal at the bottom of the second round and could make a big impact when called upon. All that being said by week four I anticipate Nicks will have a breakout game and Cruz will establish himself as Manning’s favorite target.

3. Can the aging D-Line stay healthy?

It wasn’t until Osi and Tuck both got healthy at the same time that the Giants started making people notice how good this team was. JPP had a breakout year as he saw less blockers early in the year then, when he garnered more attention, the healthy veterans took over down the stretch. If Tuck and Osi can be on the field for double digit games this year I predict JPP will lead the league in sacks. He is still relatively new to football and he is learning. Similar to Cruz I believe a full camp will help JPP emerge as the most dominant defensive force in the NFL this season. Jared Allen, DeMarcus Ware, your time is over. However, if he doesn’t have a full complement of defensive lineman around him it will be a difficult season.

2. Will there be a Superbowl hangover?

No team has repeated as champion since the Patriots in ’04. Cruz wrote a book and made more appearances on talk shows than his distant relative Tom

Can Tommy Coughlin keep Big Blue focused all season? (AP Photo/Chris O’Meara)

Cruise. Hopefully he was studying the playbook in his off days. My favorite line from The Dark Knight Rises comes from Bane when he is kicking the living crap out of Bruce Wayne and he bellows: “Victory has defeated you.” That is the danger of becoming complacent with success. Becoming wrapped up in everything off the field. There are two people who won’t fall victim: Tom Coughlin and Eli Manning. I think they will set the tone in the locker room this season and if 2008 is any indicator of how they handle success, they will be just fine. As long as nobody shoots themselves.

1. How will the Giants fare this season?

My completely biased opinion: 11-5. In typical Giants fashion there will be highs and lows, but in the end they will return to the playoffs and look similar to the world beaters they were in 2008.

-Erik

How would you answer these five questions? Let us know via our twitter (@seeuinoctober) or leave us a comment.

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NFL Draft Grades: The New York Giants

If you’re looking for exciting trades, marquee players and questionable picks sure to spark controversy, you’ve come to the wrong place (If that’s your thing don’t worry the Jets grade is coming soon). However, if you are looking for an organization built upon consistency, calm under pressure, an unwillingness to make flashy moves and two of the last four Super Bowl rings, then the Giants are the team for you.

With Brandon Jacobs gone the G-Men look to first round pick David Wilson to help carry the load.

First Round-Pick No. 32 David Wilson RB, Virginia Tech

One thing I never want to do is lie to our readers. I am not a fan of college football, so if I told you glowing things about this Hokie it would be all based on conjecture and second hand information from ESPN experts. What I can tell you is that the Giants needed a running back. Big Blue parted ways with Brandon Jacobs this off season and backups like DJ Ware and Da’Rel Scott not looking like the solution this should have been a top priority on the Giants board. While many have glowing opinions of Ahmad Bradshaw, this writer does not. He is above average, but not a top ten back and has shown a propensity for foot injuries. Wilson can also provide help on special teams. In 2007 Bradshaw and Hixon provided a spark in the return game and hopefully Wilson will do the same. Wilson was the ACC Offensive Player of the Year as he generated 1,709 yards with nine touchdowns on 290 carries. He posted ten 100-yard rushing games and at 5′-9″ and 205 lbs looks to be a wrecking ball at the next level.

Second Round- Pick No. 63 Rueben Randle WR, LSU

How do you replace the man who made the catch that won the Super Bowl? Draft a steal in the late second round. Mario Manningham had a solid career in Big Blue serving as a reliable second or third option for quarterback Eli Manning and proved the value of depth in the receiving core in the playoffs as teams focused on Victor Cruz and Hakeem Nicks. Even with the loss of Manningham, the receiving core is still a strength of the Giants because in part of their quarterback. Perhaps the Giants overvalued Randle, but when they passed on him they believed they missed their only shot at the wide receiver. “He’s NFL-ready – he runs the entire route tree,” general manager Jerry Reese said. “In this day and age in college football, it’s all about the spread offense, and

Rueben Randle practicing his salsa? Giants fans hope so.

guys don’t run the full tree. This kid runs the full tree. He kind of looks like a big, pro wide receiver out there with how he runs routes. I think he’s going to be a quick fit into the offense with how he plays; he’s big, he can post guys up.”

Third Round- Pick No. 194 Jayron Hosley CB, Virginia Tech

In today’s NFL every team needs help in the secondary. Teams are airing it out like never before and with the Giants’ potent pass rush they need players who can create coverage sacks and take advantage of poor throws which result from the pressure. Corey Webster and Aaron Ross had an excellent season with 10 picks between them, but Ross is now in Jacksonville. Prince Amukamara showed some flashes in his rookie season, but got burned on a few routes and was benched in several games. There is room for Hosley in the Giants’ secondary and as a contributor on special teams. This pick may not be a home run, but it adds depth and Tom Coughlin likes the character of the 5’10” corner. “He’s a very competitive and feisty guy,” said Coughlin. Fans saw what that spirit can bring to the team when Chase Blackburn returned and created a spark.

Fourth Round- Pick No. 127 Adrien Robinson TE, Cincinnati

Up until this pick everything made sense. The Giants’ front office did a good job of identifying areas of need and finding multi-tool guys who can help the team. This was the one pick where they reached just a bit. Robinson, who only started one year with the Bearcats, is seen as a work in progress and was projected to go undrafted. He is an impressive athlete with surprising speed for his size, but needs to work on his blocking skills before he will see the field. Tight end was a position of need, but Jake Ballard and Bear Pascoe have proven to be dependable options at that position so Robinson has time to develop. “We really think this guy has a huge upside,” GM Jerry Reese said. “He is a big, big man; long arms. He didn’t catch a lot of balls for them. But he is kind of a late bloomer who has really come on. And we think this guy is kind of a JPP of tight ends.” Anytime you compare someone to JPP the fans will love it.

Fourth Round- Pick No. 131 Brandon Mosley OT, Auburn/Sixth Round Pick No. 201 Matt McCants OT, UAB

I’ll combine these two picks because let’s face it offensive line is important, but uninteresting. As we’ve seen over the past two seasons you can never have too many offensive linemen. The Giants have had to shuffle guys around as virtually everyone on the line has dealt with injuries. Neither one of these picks is projected to have an immediate impact. They will start far down on the depth chart and probably won’t see the field this season, although Pete Prisco of CBSSports.com called Mosley, “the third day gem.” Speaking candidly the third day in the draft is not something I paid attention to because after all we have baseball and basketball and hockey playoffs.

Seventh Round- Pick No. 239 Markus Kuhn DT, NC State

There are seven rounds? I’ll let Jerry Reese explain this pick: “He has only played a limited about of time,” Reese said of Kuhn. “But he is a gym rat: big, strong, tough, great to put in your D-line rotation. Obviously, he is still learning. I think he speaks three languages – something like that. But he is fun to watch. He is the Mitch Petrus of defensive tackles. He is a like a buzzsaw in there. He is big. I wouldn’t call him a pass rusher. But he stays busy in there and he is a slugger.” Not really sure how three languages factors into anything related to football, but he’s a seventh round pick.

GM Jerry Reese found plenty of value at the bottom of each round along with a couple starters to fill the void left in free agency.

Overall Grade: B

To be fair, when you’re the reigning champs it’s difficult to get an A drafting so late. The Giants placed a high priority on drafting versatile guys who can add depth. In a season where the G-Men were hampered by injuries we saw how important these late round guys can be. They will groom the raw athletes into future contributors while their early choices look to step into roles immediately. The best pick value-wise was the second round selection of Rueben Randle. I don’t predict a Victor Cruz-like rookie season, but I do think he will be a viable third option and fill in for Manningham nicely.

-Erik

How did the Giants do in the draft? Let us know what you think via our twitter (@seeuinoctober) or leave us a comment.

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Brady Region: #4 O.J. Simpson vs #13 Eli Manning

What a killer match-up this is! Sorry couldn’t resist. Way back before he was tangled up in a tad bit of legal trouble OJ Simpson was known for being one of the best running backs to ever receive a handoff in the NFL. Eli Manning is coming off his second Super Bowl victory and has finally come out of his brothers shadow, at least in terms of playoff success, and after last year is giving him a run for his money in the regular season as well.

Innocent or not the Juice will always be remembered more for his joy ride in the White Bronco and the 1990s murder trial. It’s too bad because without that his name would be mentioned in conversations with Payton, Brown, Sanders instead of well I guess there haven’t been a whole lot of hall of fame athlete turned accused murderers. Still in his nine years with Buffalo Simpson amassed 11,236 yards, 61 TDS and was named to the Pro Bowl six times, while leading the NFL in TDs twice. Was OJ one of the best ever? Well if the glove fits. (Sorry last one).

On the other side is Eli, who has a much less controversial past. All Manning has done is win a pair of Super Bowls and generally play as the best quarterback the Giants have ever seen. (Sorry Phil Simms). Before last season the verdict was still out on whether Eli was jsut good or elite. Well he has proven that he is elite. Last season he set the record for most 4th quarter touchdowns in a season (15) and through for 29 touchdowns, completed 61.0 percent of his passes and cut his interceptions down to 16. He still hasn’t reached the statistical level of his brother but who cares about that when you have the rings.

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To All My Haters: Tell Me How My Ring Tastes

Two time Super Bowl MVPs are hard to come by, elite or not.

Apologies to all those in greater New England, Dallas, Philadelphia, Washington and those in New York who wear green instead of blue. You will have to bear with the gloating a little while longer as I continue to explore what made these New York Football Giants champions. It wasn’t the defense nor the running game, usually staples of “Giants football.” This season there was a lot of pressure on quarterback Eli Manning to carry the team and prove his metal as a leader. After last year’s 25 interceptions there were many questions as to whether or not he could handle it. The controversy really began before Manning even took a snap in 2011 when asked by ESPN 1050’s Michael Kay whether or not he believed he was an elite quarterback in the same class as Tom Brady. In this post I’ll explain how Kay and the Jets deserve some credit for the Super Bowl run.

When Manning answered yes to the question saying “I’m not a 25 interception guy,” he ignited a firestorm that few could have predicted. Everyone knew that Manning had spurts of greatness, but his valleys were even more astounding than his peaks. A franchise quarterback? Sure. Most will give you that, although depending on who they root for it might not be easy to get them to admit it. He hasn’t missed a single start since winning the job from Kurt Warner his rookie year. It was plain to see that Manning was tough and dependable. But what about those inexplicable picks? It’s tough for anyone to explain.

Manning’s answer to Kay’s question was fairly innocent. He didn’t proclaim himself better than anyone, explicitly, he simply stated he is one of the best in the game. He would never admit that was the fuel for his performance this season and it’s possible that it wasn’t. Eli showed in his fourth quarter performances that his demeanor never changes no matter the score nor the obstacles. However, the guys surrounding him are a little more temperamental. I believe that the rest of the team rallied around their quarter back and elevated their level of play to quiet the doubters around the country.

The loudest of the bunch is running back Brandon Jacobs. He was the first to go after Rex Ryan and Gang Green. Many say that athletes should be professionals and a paycheck should be enough to motivate them. However they are also human and sometimes we need a little extra to get us going. Jacobs responded to fan criticism this season by referring fans to his driveway and then in the final month of the season brought his talk to the field. He was a big part of the incredible run at the end of the season when he decided to play like the Baddest Man in the NFL.

While Manning may not have been motivated by his haters his teammates certainly were. They had a common enemy and a common goal. They wanted to show the rest of the country that while he may not look like he is a passionate leader on the gridiron, he sure can sling it. How poetic an end to the season that Manning should face off against the man anointed this generation’s best, the same man with whom he claimed to share elite status with. The worst thing that happened to big brother Peyton’s career, outside of current neck issues, was the tandem of Brady and Belichick, so it is only fitting that Eli is the only QB to beat them in the Super Bowl. Not once, but twice.

-Erik

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