NFL team previews: New York Giants

DE Justin Tuck

With the 2012 NFL season approaching fast, we go around the league to preview every team. Up next: the New York Giants.

OUTLOOK

The defending Super Bowl champs enter the 2012 season with the majority of their core players still together, and the Giants' menacing defensive front and explosive passing game could catapult them to the forefront of championship contenders yet again this year.

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The Giants will play the NFL's toughest schedule, facing seven playoff teams from last year, including four division winners. Big Blue followed up its 2007 championship campaign with a 12-4 regular-season record, earning a division crown and first-round bye before falling to Philadelphia in the divisional round of the playoffs. The Giants appear primed for yet another title run, as the coach-quarterback duo of Tom Coughlin and Eli Manning have firmly cemented their place in the NFL record books.

OFFSEASON

New York lost two key offensive starters from last year, as both running back Brandon Jacobs and wide receiver Mario Manningham signed on with San Francisco. On the defensive side of the ball, cornerback Aaron Ross signed with Jacksonville while linebacker David Tollefson agreed to terms with Oakland. The Giants completed one-year contracts with former Dallas tight end Marcellus Bennett and 11-year veteran nose tackle Shaun Rogers. New York re-signed wide receiver Dominick Hixon, backup quarterback David Carr, cornerback Terrell Thomas, punter Steve Weatherford, and linebackers Mathias Kiwanuka and Chase Blackburn.


Can Eli Manning lead the Giants to a third Super Bowl title in his tenure?

ROOKIES

With starter Ahmad Bradshaw battling nagging foot injuries, running back David Wilson out of Virginia Tech could share the rushing workload. Former LSU wide receiver Rueben Randle should fill in nicely for the recently departed Manningham. The jury is still out on troubled but talented Virginia Tech cornerback Jayron Hosley, while tight end Adrien Robinson of Cincinnati will compete for a spot on The Opening day roster.

THE SCHEDULE

The defending champions face the NFL's strongest schedule, with their opponents combining for a 140-116 regular-season record a year ago. New York will raise its championship banner in the season opener against the reviled Dallas Cowboys at Metlife Stadium. The Giants travel to the City of Brotherly Love for a Week 4 matchup with the resurgent Philadelphia Eagles. Two weeks later Big Blue tangles with the San Francisco 49ers in a rematch of last season's NFC Championship game.

Following divisional contests with Dallas and Washington, New York prepares for a heavyweight bout as the Steelers invade the Big Apple for Week 9. Over their final six games, the Giants battle five playoff teams from 2011, starting with Green Bay in Week 12. After an NFC East contest in the nation's capital, New York takes on New Orleans, Atlanta, Baltimore and Philadelphia to round out a grueling slate.

BEST OFFENSIVE PLAYER

Eli Manning, quarterback. There is little doubt that he is now elite, but it remains to be seen whether Manning can lead the Giants to a repeat title and officially claim legendary status.

BEST DEFENSIVE PLAYER

Justin Tuck, defensive end. He was the driving force behind last year's championship run and is quickly becoming one of the NFL's most vaunted pass-rushers.

WILL WIN DIVISION IF ...

They win the turnover battle and Manning continues to perform at an elite level.

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