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NFL playoffs: How do Giants stack up?

1/7/2012

Matt Williamson of Scouts, Inc. has ranked each of the 12 NFL playoff teams by position group. He gives each group a score from 1 to 12 -- 1 being the best and 12 being the worst, and adds all of the scores up. The New York Giants came in eighth in the rankings, ahead of Sunday's opponent, the Atlanta Falcons, as well as the Detroit Lions, Cincinnati Bengals and Denver Broncos.

You can find the offensive position-group rankings here and the defensive ones here, but this is an Insider feature and you'll only be able to read it if you pay for it. So I'll hit some of the Giants-related highlights for you:

The Giants rank no better than fifth in any of the position groups except one. Matt has rated their defensive line No. 1 in these playoffs:

We will be privileged to watch some great defensive lines this postseason. With Justin Tuck and Osi Umenyiora now healthy and playing at a high level, I picked the New York Giants for the top spot here. But the reality is, there could be a great argument for Baltimore (I do count Terrell Suggs as a defensive end, not a linebacker) or San Francisco to claim the top spot.

Matt has the Giants fifth-best at quarterback, with Eli Manning ranking behind Aaron Rodgers, Drew Brees, Tom Brady and Ben Roethlisberger. You could make a case, certainly, for the 2011 version of Manning being better than Roethlisberger, but you can't argue with Big Ben's postseason record.

Matt also has the Giants fifth at running back, behind Houston, Baltimore, San Francisco and New Orleans and ahead of Atlanta, which surprised me a little except that I know Matt likes Ahmad Bradshaw a lot and that, like me, he puts the blame for the Giants' 32nd-ranked running game far more on the offensive line than on the backs.

The Giants' worst grades came at offensive line and linebacker, where he ranks each 10th. The Giants' line ranks ahead of only Atlanta's and San Francisco's, and at linebacker he ranks them ahead of only Cincinnati and New Orleans. The Giants don't have a case at either of these positions. Their line has played better recently, but (a) so has Atlanta's, since they went more to the no-huddle in the second half of the season and (b) on overall 16-game body of work, the ranking is justified. I mean, 32nd in the league in rushing is 32nd in the league in rushing.

Matt also has the Giants ninth at defensive back and seventh at special teams, which again ... tough to really argue.

A couple of spots where I think he underrated the Giants a bit are at receiver, where he has them sixth, and at coaching, where he has them eighth. The receiver rankings are real eye-of-the-beholder stuff, and when you factor in tight ends, yeah, I can see how someone might rank them behind New England or Detroit. I personally think the Hakeem Nicks-Victor Cruz tandem this year ranks with any one-two wideout combo in the whole league, but again -- eye of the beholder. And on coaching? Tom Coughlin's used to being underrated, even in his own town. He'll survive.

Bottom line, if Matt's right, the places where the Giants are weak are similar to those in which the Falcons are weak, which bodes well for them in this first-round game. And in the places where they're strong -- quarterback and defensive line -- they rank with or ahead of anyone, which bodes well for them if they get past the Falcons.