One of the most anticipated season openers for the Giants as well as the rest of the league is almost here.
With Super Bowl aspirations laid upon them, the Giants will face their first of many tests this season when they meet the Cowboys in Texas Sunday night. Of course, the big questions will be whether Odell Beckham Jr. will play.
Regardless if he does or doesn’t – at best at 50-50 shot – there are plenty of positives and other questions facing the team as they possibly face a trip deep into the postseason.
RECEIVERS: When Beckham is full healthy, he will be surrounded by plenty of other options.
Sterling Shepard has shown signs that he is primed for a big season. Brandon Marshall was slowed by an injury in the preseason, but the Giants believe the thought of the playoffs can be the difference between a mediocre and a standout season for the veteran.
First-round pick tight end Evan Engram gives them a true threat at tight end. Engram also has lined up in the backfield and the slot. Many believe Engram will be more explosive with his speed at the position and make a bigger splash than Jeremy Shockey. Fellow tight end Rhett Ellison, who was brought here primarily for his blocking, also will be a factor.
RUNNING BACKS: This is an area in which they need some consistent sense of production every week.
The Giants are looking for Paul Perkins to take a lead role here, but he may not fulfill their needs. Orleans Darkwa and Shane Vereen are both workmanlike backs and are capable of some productive weeks.
But the real sleeper is fourth-round pick Wayne Gallman Jr. The former Clemson standout ran the ball well in a second-half role in the preseason, and his stock can easily rise as he also can be effective catching balls out of the backfield.
OFFENSIVE LINE: It is definitely the most maligned area of the team. The Giants were searching the waiver wires for offensive line help, but they came up empty.
Ereck Flowers had received the brunt of the attacks, but the entire line must be steady throughout the season. The right side of Bobby Hart and John Jerry also will receive their share of scrutiny.
If they can open up the running game and keep Eli Manning off the turf, the Giants will have a deep run.
DEFENSIVE UNIT: The Giants’ unit has the potential to establish itself among the all-time best eleven for a season.
Jason Pierre-Paul had an outstanding preseason and is in midseason form. He is determined to set a new personal sack record this fall. Damon “Snacks” Harrison continues to show why he is the premier run stopper.
Jonathan Casillas and B. J. Goodson have the ability to turn the linebacking corps into the one the league’s finest.
If Eli Apple can stay healthy along with the rest of his teammates, the secondary again be a ball-hawking, shutdown foursome. Barring injuries, the defense easily can help Big Blue to a double-digit, win total this season.
SCHEDULE: The Giants can post a 10-plus win season and capture the NFC East. However, they certainly won’t have an easy ride.
They have three prime-time games and six 4 p.m. games. Their road trips will be to Tampa Bay, Denver, San Francisco, Los Angeles (Raiders) and Arizona. Along with their NFC East opponents at home, they will meet the Seattle, Kansas City, an Detroit.
DALLAS: As always, this will be a wild one. The Giants should able to camp down Ezekiel Elliot. They will be tested by the Cowboys receivers, notably Jason Witten will need to be watched by the linebackers.
The Giants have enough weapons on offense, especially if Beckham plays.
Yet, the Giants appear to be a team of destiny this season. Even though they played against mostly backups in their preeason finale against New England, the Giants seemed to find their offensive rhythm.
Look for them to grab an important, opening-game victory against the Cowboys.