The better way to retool the Giants this year is through free agency as opposed to the draft.
MICHAEL EISEN: Fiction - I’m a strong believer in building a team through the draft. But with the Giants in need of help at several positions, they must take both routes to improvement.
- JOHN SCHMEELK: Fiction - It is a balance of both. You might get two or three players through the draft that can help right away, but you are more likely to find NFL ready players through free agency. Special teams, coverage units especially, will be improved via the draft but a position like running back, in my opinion, is better filled with someone through free agency that you know can handle the NFL duties of running back. College players too often struggle with things like pass protection.
- DAN SALOMONE: Fact - We heard it from the top brass at the end of the season that the Giants are one or two players here and there away from turning things around quickly. Based on what we’ve seen around the NFL, I think that’s true for this current Giants team. It’s a fine line between making the playoffs and watching from home, and the Giants need a few vets who can come in right away and plug the holes.
Michael Strahan will be elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame this year.
- MICHAEL EISEN: Fact - He should have been elected last year. It would be shocking to see him come up short again.
- JOHN SCHMEELK: Fact - He should have gotten in last year, and will certainly do so this season. He was a true two-way defensive end and deserves to be enshrined in Canton. Also a heads up for Giants fans, his induction would mean a very good chance the Giants will play in the Hall of Fame Game this year.
- DAN SALOMONE: Fact - Strange things can happen, but there seems to be a consensus around the NFL landscape that his wait will be just the one year. I judge greatness not on the amount of records broken, but rather for how long they are held. More than a decade later, Strahan still holds the single-season sack record and remains fifth all-time, which is where he finished his career.
The Giants will have a defensive identity in 2014.
- MICHAEL EISEN: Fact - The offense will improve, but the defense will be at the forefront of the Giants’ turnaround
- JOHN SCHMEELK: Fiction - When you have a quarterback like Eli Manning, the team will always be judged by the offense. The Giants had a very good defense last year, but it wasn’t great since it still struggled a bit when facing top quarterbacks. The Giants will try to bring back many of their free agent defensive starters (Tuck, Beason, Joseph) but I’m not sure all will return. It might mean a small step back. Meanwhile, the Giants free agency money and draft picks will likely focus on an offense that underachieved last year. The only way the Giants are considered a defense-first team next year is if Jason Pierre Paul returns to 2011 form. The jury is still out on that.
- DAN SALOMONE: Fiction - It’s amazing what can happen in just one season in the NFL. Heading into the last few seasons, the concern was the defense. Now it’s glaringly the offense. The tide definitely started to shift this season to a defensive identity. I think it will still be prevalent in 2014, but when you have a proven franchise quarterback, it remains on offense.
The Super Bowl champion will be a team the Giants faced this season.
- MICHAEL EISEN: Fiction - It’s been a topsy-turvy season, season so I’m picking someone other than the Seahawks or Broncos to win it. Then again, maybe it will be the Chargers.
- JOHN SCHMEELK: Fact - It’s a 50/50 chance with the Giants having faced the Seahawks, Chargers, Broncos, and Panthers. Three of those teams have home games this week. I’m not a huge believer in a very banged up Patriots team. The team, in my opinion, with the biggest chance to win it all that the Giants haven’t faced are the 49ers. But I will play the odds and go with Fact.
- DAN SALOMONE: Fiction - The Giants faced half of the teams that are still alive, three of which are the higher seeds heading into their respective divisional round games. But I think the teams that the Giants haven’t faced are the ones in line for upsets, primarily the 49ers. They’ve progressively gone deeper in the playoffs, and I think this is the year San Francisco gets over the hump.