New York has addressed what was felt as the weakness of the team (special teams) by signing former Eagles punter Jeff Feagles and future Hall of Fame return man Brian Mitchell. They also signed former Eagle running back Dorsey Levens who could very well lead to the end of Ron Dayne's career with the Giants. The team has return a solid offense (ranked sixth last year) led by improving quarterback Kerry Collins who is becoming dangerously comfortable in the pocket and the return of last year's Pepsi NFL Rookie of the Year tight end Jeremy Shockey, who has quickly become one of the most feared TE's in the league. The Giants re-signed wide receiver Ike Hilliard to maintain the receiving duo of Hilliard and Amani Toomer, who have been explosive in recent years. If they have any weaknesses on offense, it would be found on the right side of the offensive line. But if offensive Coordinator Jim McNally can work his magic with youngsters Tam Hopkins and fifth round pick Dave Diehl then the Giants will have what they feel is the offense to lead them to be the 2004 Vince Lombardi Trophy recipients.
The Giants have always been known for a strong defense. However, I feel that this year the offense will carry the team. I'm not saying they won't be strong. They were the ninth ranked defense last season and will return most that crew. They've added veteran defensive end Keith Washington (Broncos) to play opposite Pro Bowler Michael Strahan and should split time with Kenny Holmes. These defensive studs will teach defensive end Osi Umenyiora, the Giants second round speed demon, to give the defensive line as much depth as any team in the league. The biggest question mark for the Giants will be their secondary. They lost long time cornerback Jason Sehorn to the Rams and will need the quick development of fourth round pick CB Roderick Babers who will immediately compete with Ralph Brown for the nickel corner role. If long time linebacker Mike Barrow can get some consistent playmaking help in the middle then the Giants will once again field a dominant, aggressive defense.
The Giants will make their run for the Super Bowl beginning with a home battle versus the Rams that will feature the return of Sehorn. They will face five playoff teams including two with divisional rival Philadelphia, the defending Super Bowl Champion Buccaneers and the Falcons who many feel are a huge contender for the Bowl this year. They however do have what looks like a softer schedule then the Eagles. I predict the Giants will finish similar to last year. They will finish 11-5 and make it to the second round of the playoffs.