NFC East: 2010 Season Wrap NFC
ESPN.com New York Giants reporter Dan Graziano makes his game-by-game picks for the 2014 season.
Week 1: at Detroit Lions
The Giants are coming off a mess of a preseason, undermanned and overwhelmed, with the offensive line still a mess and the new offense not clicking at all. No one will pick them to win this game. Except me. Prediction: Win
Week 2: Arizona Cardinals
This one's a comedown off the Week 1 surprise, as Arizona's banged-up defense still manages to flummox Eli Manning and collect a few interceptions. It's a bummer of a home opener as reality begins to set in. Prediction: Loss
Week 3: Houston Texans
Houston's defense is as liable as Arizona's to make life miserable for Manning and the offensive line. But Houston has bigger questions on offense than even the Giants, and this is a win for the New York defense against Ryan Fitzpatrick. Prediction: Win
Week 4: at Washington Redskins
Week 5: Atlanta Falcons
The pattern continues, and the Giants overcome two Osi Umenyiora sacks to outscore the Falcons with a furious Manning comeback in the final minutes. The Giants poke their heads over the .500 mark as they make the turn into the most brutal stretch of their schedule. Prediction: Win
Week 6: at Philadelphia Eagles
The Giants don't have Matt Barkley to kick around this time when they visit the City of Brotherly Love. Chip Kelly and the Eagles show them what a truly innovative offense looks like. Prediction: Loss
Week 7: at Dallas Cowboys
The season-long debate about what gives when an anemic Giants offense meets a pathetic Cowboys defense tilts in Dallas' favor in the first meeting. Tony Romo & Co. have more than enough weapons to outscore Manning and his bunch, and the Giants hit the bye with a 3-4 record. Prediction: Loss
Week 9: Indianapolis Colts
After a long break before the Monday night home game, the Giants get taken apart by Andrew Luck, Hakeem Nicks & Co. at MetLife Stadium for a third straight loss. The offense is starting to run more smoothly, but it still doesn't have enough playmakers to outscore one of the league's better offenses. Prediction: Loss
Week 10: at Seattle Seahawks
You're kidding, right? Prediction: Loss
Week 11: San Francisco 49ers
The Giants have obviously handled the Niners in recent years and in some high-profile situations. But by this point in the season, San Francisco's defense is back to full strength, and the 49ers can't afford to lose ground to the Seahawks by failing to beat the team Seattle just beat the week before. Prediction: Loss
Week 12: Dallas Cowboys
A sixth straight loss is by no means out of the question here, as Romo and his crew still have the potential to outscore anyone in a given week. But from this far out, I'll forecast that something goes wrong for Romo late in this game, and the Giants get a gift. Prediction: Win
Week 13: at Jacksonville Jaguars
This is where the schedule starts to soften up, when the Giants start playing teams that insist on not starting their best quarterback. It's unfortunate they're 4-7 at this point and just about out of the playoff hunt, but they will get it going against the bottom-feeders. Prediction: Win
Week 14: at Tennessee Titans
I think the Titans are going to be dreadful this year, and by December they won't be very difficult for anyone to beat, even at home. A third straight victory keeps the Giants' hopes alive. Prediction: Win
Week 15: Washington Redskins
Have to be honest: The NFC East is so unpredictable that, when doing these predictions, I just decided to give the Giants a 3-3 division record with victories in all three home games and losses in all three road games. It's as fair a way as any to do it, I believe. Prediction: Win
Week 16: at St. Louis Rams
After moving back to .500 with four straight wins, the season falls apart at the hands of the St. Louis pass rush. An offensive line that has once again been the Giants' biggest problem all year can't protect Manning in a must-win game. Prediction: Loss
Week 17: Philadelphia Eagles
Tom Coughlin's teams can always find a way to play for pride. The Giants' playoff hopes are extinguished, but they still manage to end the season on a high note and with a .500 record. Prediction: Win
Predicted Record: 8-8
Arrow indicates direction team is trending.
Final Power Ranking: 12
Preseason Power Ranking: 19
Biggest disappointment: This Giants will look back on several moments during the 2010 season and kick themselves for not capitalizing on opportunities. I know coach Tom Coughlin's still scratching his head over how his team was physically whipped in Green Bay with a playoff bid on the line. It's like the players didn't have a full appreciation for what was at stake, and that's a major disappointment to everyone in the organization. Losing defensive end/linebacker Mathias Kiwanuka was also a huge disappointment. He was probably defensive coordinator Perry Fewell's most versatile player. The Giants did a nice job of managing injuries at receiver and on the offensive line, but Kiwanuka's the type of player who's virtually impossible to replace.
Biggest need: The Giants have to continue adding depth at the linebacker position. If former second-round draft pick Clint Sintim isn't going to emerge as a starter, it's time to find someone else. Keith Bulluck isn't going to cut it over the long haul. Jonathan Goff was steady at middle linebacker, but the Giants need to surround him with more talent. GM Jerry Reese will be looking for some of the top linebackers coming out of college. On offense, the Giants need another reliable tight end and an offensive tackle. If David Diehl is going to move inside to left guard permanently, the club has to decide if Will Beatty is the long-term answer at left tackle. Surely the team won't bet on Shawn Andrews staying healthy based on his track record with the Eagles and his brief time with the Giants. And kudos to Rich Seubert for filling in nicely for Shaun O'Hara at center and then slipping over to left guard, which is his preferred spot.
Team MVP: If Hakeem Nicks hadn't been injured late in the season, I think he would've been in the mix. But defensive end Justin Tuck would be my pick. He had 11.5 sacks and six forced fumbles to go along with Osi Umenyiora's league-record 10 forced fumbles.
Worst moment: When you blow a 21-point lead with eight minutes to go in a game, I'd have to think it deserves "worst moment" status. The New York Giants were in position to take control of the NFC East after dominating a Week 15 game against the Eagles for three and a half quarters. But Michael Vick led one of the most exciting comebacks in years. DeSean Jackson capped it off with a 65-yard punt return for a touchdown when punter Matt Dodge failed to get the ball out of bounds. That was truly the worst moment of the season for the Giants.
Arrow indicates direction team is trending.
Final Power Ranking: 18
Preseason Power Ranking: 4
Biggest disappointment: The season was such a disaster that it's hard to pinpoint one player, but for clarity sake, let's go with cornerback Mike Jenkins. He appeared to be on the verge of stardom following a breakout season in 2009, but he was burned repeatedly in 2010 and then he shied away from contact on a Green Bay touchdown in a 45-7 loss on national TV. Jenkins was expected to become one of the Cowboys' best players on defense, but he had an awful season and probably deserved to be benched at one point.
Biggest need: The Cowboys need to overhaul the offensive line. Marc Colombo was exposed at right tackle by quick defensive ends and right guard Leonard Davis is no longer a dominant player. Left tackle Doug Free is the only offensive lineman who had a solid season. You could see the Cowboys attempting to change out as many as three spots along the line. Dallas needs to bring in talent via the draft or free agency. The Cowboys also need help at safety. There's no reason for Alan Ball to start in 2011 based on how he performed. And it's time to start figuring out who will replace Terence Newman at cornerback. Orlando Scandrick actually had a decent season, but I'm not sure he's ready to take over for Newman full-time.
Team MVP: Jason Witten. Once Tony Romo suffered a season-ending shoulder injury, tight end Witten stepped up his game and became a big-time weapon for Jon Kitna. DeMarcus Ware had a lot of sacks, but he disappeared in too many games. I think Witten was a huge part of the Cowboys finishing the second half of the season 5-3.
Worst moment: You have to go all the way back to the last play of the first half against the Washington Redskins in Week 1. The Cowboys simply needed to kneel and head to the locker room, but Garrett called a short passing play that fans will never forget. Tashard Choice caught the pass, but he fumbled while fighting for extra yardage. DeAngelo Hall raced the other direction to score a touchdown. On a night when Donovan McNabb and the Skins' offense couldn't do much, it was exactly what the Redskins needed.
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Final Power Ranking: 26
Preseason Power Ranking: 17
Biggest disappointment: The Redskins sold their fan base on this idea of star quarterback Donovan McNabb leading the organization to new heights. Instead, McNabb had an awful season by his standards and couldn't find common ground with Mike Shanahan or his son, Kyle. I realize Albert Haynesworth got a lot of attention for his standoff with Mike Shanahan, but McNabb was ultimately the bigger story. His inability to flourish in this offense was a huge disappointment for the Redskins. It's probably an indictment of both Shanahan and McNabb.
Biggest need: The Redskins need help at pretty much every position, but obviously you have to start with quarterback. Surely Rex Grossman isn't the answer heading into 2011. Shanahan will focus on the quarterbacks declaring for the draft. I think he'll take a long look at Arkansas' Ryan Mallett, who lost to Ohio State on Tuesday night. After quarterback, you have to address this offensive line. They have their left tackle in Trent Williams, but now it's time to fill in some other spots. Artis Hicks isn't going to cut it as a starter at right guard, and the Skins definitely need a new left guard.
Team MVP: Let's go with wide receiver Santana Moss. His numbers weren't off the charts, but he still put his body on the line week after week and made plays for McNabb and Grossman. At a position that features a lot of divas, Moss is the consummate team guy.
Worst moment of the year: Everything changed once Mike Shanahan yanked McNabb from that game against the Detroit Lions. The Redskins tried to come back with a contract extension, but that turned out to be window dressing. The Redskins have left themselves an easy out with McNabb. Now it will be interesting to see if there's a market for the veteran quarterback. If the Skins can land a fourth-round draft pick for McNabb, they'll be doing well.
Arrow indicates direction team is trending.
Final Power Ranking: 7
Preseason Power Ranking: 15
Biggest disappointment: The secondary allowed 31 passing touchdowns. I realize that the pass rush has a lot to do with giving up passing yards, but the Eagles' group of nondescript cornerbacks (outside of Asante Samuel) didn't do its part. Aaron Rodgers could torch this group if the Eagles can't figure out a way to apply some pressure. It was also disappointing that Brent Celek went from being one of the best tight ends in the league in 2009 to an afterthought in this season's offense. Vick has looked for Celek more in recent weeks, so perhaps the tight end will get hot in the playoffs, as he did in 2008.
Biggest need: The Eagles need to bring in reinforcements at cornerback. I always felt like trusting Ellis Hobbs to start at cornerback was a mistake. He had an awful game against the Tennessee Titans and then he had to be placed on injured reserve. Now the Eagles have had to bench corner Dimitri Patterson for poor play. I said before the season the Eagles needed more depth at cornerback, but they didn't do enough to address that issue. GM Howie Roseman has done a really nice job in other areas, but it always seemed like the Eagles were going to be exposed in the secondary. The good news is that rookie safety Nate Allen played really well before suffering a season-ending injury.
Team MVP: Do I really have to say it? It's none other than Vick, who should finish No. 2 behind Tom Brady in the league MVP voting.
Worst moment: I'd have to say that "effort" against the Minnesota Vikings in Week 16 ranks near the top. The Eagles were still playing for a shot at a first-round bye, but they didn't act interested in playing that game, which was postponed until Tuesday night because of a snowstorm. When the game started, it was obvious that Vikings coach Leslie Frazier had prepared his team for battering Vick. I thought the overall lack of effort against the Vikings in a meaningful game really stood out this season. And the defense made Joe Webb of the Vikings a household name around the league.