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NYG favourites for NFC East????

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NYG favourites for NFC East????

Post  Big_Pete on Thu Aug 18, 2011 4:28 am

NY Giants are NFC East favorites
With better QB play from Eli Manning and a solid receiving core, Giants can win division

Joyner By KC Joyner
ESPN Insider

The hottest topic in the NFL the past couple of weeks has been Vince Young's comment that the 2011 Philadelphia Eagles are a "Dream Team".

What is lost in all of the hype surrounding that quote is that, as stocked as Philadelphia's roster is, there are multiple reasons to think they might not even be the best team in the NFC East.

That honor could very well belong to the New York Giants.

The Giants as NFC East favorites? The team that lost Steve Smith and Kevin Boss in free agency (with Smith adding insult to injury by signing with the Eagles), lost Plaxico Burress to their cross-town rivals and had first-round draft pick Prince Amukamara go out with a foot injury should be considered a favorite to win this division?

In a word, yes.

Here are eight items that show why the Giants shouldn't be written off as second-place contenders in the NFC East.

Michael Vick wasn't anywhere near as good as his 2010 numbers suggest

One of the reasons Philadelphia won the NFC East in 2010 is that Vick had a near-MVP campaign, but the fact is he benefitted from more luck than maybe any other quarterback in the league.

He had only 19.4 percent of his potential interceptions turn into actual interceptions. That total was tied for the lowest interception luck factor rate in the league and indicates he was a huge beneficiary of fortunate bounces.

Lowest interception luck factor last season

  • Player Team Int Int + Nrint Interception luck factor
  • Michael Vick Philadelphia Eagles 6 31 19.4%
  • Josh Freeman Tampa Bay Buccaneers 6 31 19.4%
  • Ben Roethlisberger Pittsburgh Steelers 5 22 22.7%
  • Tom Brady New England Patriots 4 16 25.0%
  • Kyle Orton Denver Broncos 9 35 25.7%

The interception column shows how often each quarterback was picked off last year. The int + nrint column shows the total number of interceptions and near interceptions (passes that could have been picked off but were dropped, tipped away, etc.). The interception luck factor column shows the percentage of potential interception chances that actually turned into interceptions.

Eli Manning wasn't anywhere near as bad as his 2010 numbers suggest

Manning had 52.1 percent of his potential interceptions turn into interceptions, a total that was the fourth-highest in the league and was a prime reason Manning threw a league-high 25 interceptions. If Manning's luck gets better (and it really couldn't get much worse than last year) and Vick's luck gets worse (and it couldn't have been much better), it could mean as much as a 10-15 interception swing between these two in 2011.

Hakeem Nicks and Mario Manningham are much better matchup-busters than DeSean Jackson and Jeremy Maclin

A matchup-buster wide receiver is one who is capable of posting dominant numbers against quality cornerback coverage.

A study in the 2011 TFS Fantasy Football Draft Guide examined how wideouts around the league fared in this coverage scenario. The guide broke cornerbacks down into different rating levels, with a red rating being the best (allowing less than 7.0 YPA), and a yellow rating indicating the player was average (allowing 7.0-8.9 YPA).

Jackson and Maclin averaged 5.6 YPA on 66 passes against red- and yellow-rated cornerbacks last year. To put that into perspective, the league average in this category was 7.3 YPA, so these two weren't even average when facing quality competition.

Now contrast that with Nicks and Manningham. Those two faced red- and yellow-rated cornerbacks on 96 passes last year and posted 9.6 YPA on those aerials.

The vast difference between these totals offers strong evidence that New York's starting wideouts are much better matchup-busters than Philadelphia's.

The Giants can largely absorb the loss of Boss/Smith with more passes to Nicks/Manningham

Let's assume Manning will throw around 500 passes this year. Last year, Nicks saw 127 targets in only 13 games, so his target level could move up to the 150-range this year. Manningham saw 90 targets in 16 games, but only eight of those games were starts. If we move his target level up to 125, those two will account for 275 of Manning's targets. Give the running backs 100 targets and the total moves to 375. That leaves only 125 targets for the tight end and No. 3 wide receiver. Even if the replacements for Boss and Smith are a yard or so worse in YPA, it means a loss of only 150 yards or so, which is a negligible amount.

Jason Pierre-Paul and Marvin Austin could make the strong Giants pass rush even stronger

Pierre-Paul was very highly rated coming out of college and is starting to showcase those skills at the NFL level to the extent that ESPN.com NFC East blogger Dan Graziano said he "looks like a monster." Austin displayed a wide variety of pass-rush skills at North Carolina and could add a lot of up-the-gut pass-rush pressure.

Steve Weatherford could vastly improve the Giants punting

Matt Dodge's punting last year was sometimes legendarily bad, something Eagles fans can appreciate most. It's not a given that Weatherford will win the job, but even if his presence only serves to make Dodge get his punting act together, it would shore up a potentially huge weakness for the Giants.

Pat Flaherty will help New York weather the offensive line changes

Flaherty might be the best offensive line coach in the NFL, and his expertise is a main reason why the Giants ranked second in sacks allowed percentage last year despite playing three different centers, two different left guards and two different left tackles. If Flaherty's history is any indicator, it won't take long for this revamped group to gel.

Kenny Phillips is healthy

Although losing Amukamara is certainly a hindrance, the Giants have good depth at the position with Corey Webster, Aaron Ross and Terrell Thomas. There is far less depth at safety, so getting the talented Phillips back to full strength should make up for the loss of Amukamara, and then some.

Each of these items is significant on its own, but when they are added together, they show why New York general manager Jerry Reese was willing to guarantee that his team would be playoff-bound in 2011.


Last edited by Big_Pete on Thu Aug 18, 2011 4:37 am; edited 1 time in total
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Re: NYG favourites for NFC East????

Post  Big_Pete on Thu Aug 18, 2011 4:30 am

Interesting read.

I would also add that NYG have the most of their key pieces well established in the system, whereas the other teams have had a much higher roster and/or coaching staff turn over. These are important factors with the very short offseason we have had.
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Re: NYG favourites for NFC East????

Post  Big_Pete on Thu Aug 18, 2011 5:03 am

another take on it

Should Giants be NFC East favorites?
August, 16, 2011
Aug 16
5:04
PM ET

By Dan Graziano

I love a contrarian point of view, and K.C. Joyner's got one here. While everybody is gushing over the Philadelphia Eagles as free-agent champs and NFC East favorites, K.C. has written an Insider piece Insider listing eight reasons to think the New York Giants should be the favorites instead. Like I said, it's an Insider piece, so if you want to read it you can either buy the insider subscription or call my cell phone and I'll give you my password.

K.C.'s eight reasons are:

1. Michael Vick was lucky last season, as a high percentage of his potential interceptions weren't actually intercepted.

2. Eli Manning was unlucky last season on the opposite end of the same scale.

3. Hakeem Nicks and Mario Manningham are better against good coverage than DeSean Jackson and Jeremy Maclin are.

4. Manning can overcome the loss of Kevin Boss and Steve Smith simply by throwing to Nicks and Manningham more.

5. Jason Pierre-Paul and Marvin Austin will improve the Giants' already strong pass rush.

6. Steve Weatherford is a better punter than Matt Dodge, who cost them games last season.

7. Offensive line coach Pat Flaherty is the best in the NFL, and that should help the transition to the reworked alignment there.

8. Kenny Phillips is fully healthy.

K.C. has numbers to back up many of these points, and many of them are points with which I agree. I think Phillips will be a huge help, agree completely on Weatherford and can easily believe both that Manning will throw fewer interceptions than he did last season and that Vick won't be quite as awesome as he was last season. On the comparison of the two teams' wideouts, I have no reason to doubt K.C.'s numbers.

I have specific issues with points 4, 5 and 7, as follows:

4. I don't think it's as simple as "throw it to Nicks and Manningham more." Nicks and Manningham surely benefited from defenses having to pay attention to Smith, who'd caught 107 balls the season before, when he was on the field. He's gone and has not been replaced.

5. I like Pierre-Paul and Austin fine, but they're not being added to the mix. They're replacing people who have departed. Mathias Kiwanuka moved back from the line to linebacker, and Pierre-Paul will take his spot. Barry Cofield signed with the Redskins, and Austin replaces him. It's a big leap to believe that those two young players will approximate the production and performance of those two veterans and a bigger one to believe they'll improve on it.

7. Flaherty could be a wizard, but if William Beatty isn't ready for the starting left tackle job in his third season in the league, the Giants' line will struggle. And as of right now, we still don't know if he is.

So what do I think of K.C.'s basic thesis? I think the Giants have a very good team as far as the front-line starters go, and I don't think it'd be some huge upset if they won the division. I have all kinds of respect for the work K.C. does and the numbers on which he is basing his conclusions. He makes a strong case and a case worth making amid all the Eagles hype.

But the way I see it, the Giants' problem the past couple of seasons hasn't been one of measurables.

The Giants' defense over the past two seasons has been inconsistent and hasn't always played up to the level of the talent on the roster. The same can be said, in places, for the running game and for Manning. The Giants were good enough to make the playoffs in 2009 and 2010 but didn't, and the reason they didn't was because the good players they have in key spots like that didn't always perform the way the numbers would expect them to perform. Supposedly reliable parts of the roster let them down when it mattered most. Ahmad Bradshaw fumbled. Manning threw interceptions. Kareem McKenzie had an inexplicably bad game against the Titans. Half of the defense quit on its coordinator in 2009.

That's the kind of stuff that doesn't show up in preseason projections, when we're imagining everyone playing as well as they can possibly play and predicting outcomes based on that. If the Giants stay healthy and play 16 games that reflect the talent on their roster, sure, they can be division champs. But that was true last season and the season before, too. And those teams, which looked a lot like this team except maybe deeper, didn't do it.
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Re: NYG favourites for NFC East????

Post  uzi716 on Fri Aug 19, 2011 4:28 pm

I'll buy into it, I think we can win the division.

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Re: NYG favourites for NFC East????

Post  Pizan on Fri Aug 19, 2011 6:55 pm

I like the first few points that he made. A few at the end were just article fillers.

What he isn't counting are the improvements each team made in the offseason. Factor that in, Eagles have the edge.
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Re: NYG favourites for NFC East????

Post  Big_Pete on Fri Aug 19, 2011 8:39 pm

Pizan wrote:I like the first few points that he made. A few at the end were just article fillers.

What he isn't counting are the improvements each team made in the offseason. Factor that in, Eagles have the edge.

The eagles have the most talent.

but the Giants are a team that is much better than the sum of the individual players

There are many teams who simply don't play up to their talent levels for whatever reason.

Personally I have the Eagles as the Favourite, followed by NYG, Dallas and Washington.

I still believe NYG has the best team structure in the division
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Re: NYG favourites for NFC East????

Post  Big_Pete on Fri Aug 19, 2011 10:28 pm

Interestingly Vick threw 3 picks against the Steelers today
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