- KC Joyner, NFL Insider
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I recently penned an ESPN.com Insider article detailing multiple reasons the Giants, and not the Eagles, should be considered the favorite to win the NFC East.
The column covered a lot of ground, but, detailed as it was, there were actually many other items that bode well for the Giants that couldn't fit into that article.
The ESPNNewYork.com editors don't want Big Blue fans to miss out on seeing those, so they asked if these plusses could be covered in a blog post. I was more than happy to oblige, so here goes!
Tops on this list would be how their running backs compare with Philadelphia's. The Eagles have a potential All-Pro in LeSean McCoy and recently added former Dolphins running back Ronnie Brown to the mix.
That sounds a like a really good pair, but let's see how they stack up against Ahmad Bradshaw and Brandon Jacobs.
A logical place to start is in the good blocking yards per attempt (GBYPA) category. This metric gauges how productive a ballcarrier is when he is given good blocking (which, loosely, defined, means when the blockers do not allow the defense to do anything to disrupt a running play).
McCoy fared quite well in this metric, as his 8.0 GBYPA total ranked tied for 8th highest in the league (the leaguewide rankings can be found in the 2011 TFS Fantasy Football Draft Guide).
Brown did not do nearly as well, as his 5.3 GBYPA ranked tied for next to last in that category. This wasn't a matter of Miami's blockers not opening up quality gaps in the defense, either, as fellow Miami RB Ricky Williams posted a 6.4 GBYPA last year.
Now contrast those figures to the ones posted by Bradshaw and Jacobs. Jacob's 8.8 GBYPA ranked tied for 3rd best and Bradshaw's 7.0 GBYPA ranked tied for 15th best. The Eagles may have rushed for more yards than the Giants last season but these figures show that the Giants runners are actually appreciably better than Philadelphia's when given good blocking situations.
Philly has an edge in running back pass production, but it isn't enough to give them an overall edge. At the very least, this is a push and since the Giants have two quality ballcarriers versus the Eagles one, it could be said that they have a deeper and therefore stronger backfield pairing.
Another item of note is that New York may actually be in pretty good shape with Travis Beckum and Domenik Hixon as the starting TE/number three WR.
Here is some backup for that statement. Last year Boss posted a 7.9 YPA, a total that ranked 15th out of 39 qualifying tight ends (32 targets being the minimum bar to qualify). What this means is Boss was a slightly above average tight end.
Beckum did not fare quite as well in YPA last year (6.4), but it was based on only 18 passes and therefore might not be an indicator of his true performance level. Even if it is a true indicator, the Giants are not likely to throw him a ton of passes, as Boss only had 68 targets last year. A drop-off of a yard and a half on 68 passes is only 100 yards, or not a huge loss.
The Giants might be able to make up for that loss if Hixon returns to his earlier performance level. Let's not forget that in 2008, he posted an 8.7 YPA on 73 targets. The YPA total was tied for 24th highest in the league. If he comes back to close to what he was that year, he can be just as, if not more, productive as Steve Smith was last year (7.2 YPA on 77 targets).
This isn't even a full accounting of all of the pro-Giants items but when these items are added to the eight items posted in today's ESPN.com Insider story, it provides strong evidence that the Giants should not only not be written off as NFC East contenders -- a compelling case can be made that they should be considered the front-runners.