Keep an eye on these five players as the Giants take on the Jets Friday night
1. Wayne Gallman has been the most impressive Giants player in the preseason.
JOHN SCHMEELK: Fiction - This question is tough because no one individual player has really been great for both games. Wayne Gallman had only tree rushes for five yards in the preseason game against the Browns. He had 33 receiving yards, but I can't give him the nod. Davis Webb was great against the Lions but struggled against the Browns. Instead, I'm going to look to the defense for my player and go with B.W. Webb. I thought Webb was a true bubble player back in the spring, but he has done great work to put him in position to be the team's starting slot corner and backup outside cornerback. He has been challenged in both preseason games and has made plays on the ball. If he keeps it up in the final two preseason games, he will play a big role on defense.
DAN SALOMONE: Fact - There hasn't been a Victor Cruz of this preseason – maybe there will be tonight in the Jets game – but Gallman has certainly ingratiated himself with the new regime that did not draft him las year. Gallman's stats in the first game weren't crazy, but he provided a little spark in the passing game to get things going. And then in the second week against Detroit, he had two touchdowns – one rushing and one receiving. He has made the most of his increased reps with Saquon Barkley sidelined, and he'll have another opportunity to put on a show in the MetLife Bowl.
LANCE MEDOW: Fiction - Wayne Gallman is definitely in this conversation after putting together an impressive performance last week in Detroit, but if you look at the preseason as a whole, it's hard for anyone to top Kerry Wynn. The latter has been one of the most, if not the most, consistent player this preseason. In the opener against the Browns, Wynn collected four tackles on defense and forced a fumble on special teams, which the Giants recovered and then turned into a touchdown. Then in the second preseason game against the Lions, Wynn followed up his strong performance against Cleveland with five tackles and a sack along with a number of key special teams stops in Detroit. Gallman has had a productive camp and has flashed in preseason games, but no one has been steadier than Wynn.
2. The position group to watch in the third preseason game is the secondary.
JOHN SCHMEELK: Fact - There could be as many as five or six spots up for grabs in the secondary at both cornerback and safety. There are not only spots on the roster to be won, but also roles that will offer a lot of playing time. Curtis Riley has been the starter at practice for a couple weeks but now he needs to play well enough to hold onto the spot. It's no different for B.W. Webb at cornerback. Donte Deayon is back from his injury, and will have the opportunity to reinsert him into the competition for the slot cornerback spot. You can never have enough good defensive backs, and the Giants have to make sure they have the right guys back there on the final 53.
DAN SALOMONE: Fiction - I want to see the first-team offensive line while the starters get an extended look in the third preseason game. It doesn't have as many jobs up for grabs as the secondary, but this team goes as the line goes. Let's see them settle into a half and try to put together a few drives against a talented defense.
LANCE MEDOW: Fact - The position group to watch since the start of training camp has essentially been the secondary, and now that we're entering the third preseason game, nothing much has changed.The other starting safety job opposite Landon Collins is still up for grabs with four players (Curtis Riley, Andrew Adams, Michael Thomas, Darian Thompson) still in the mix and the same can be said for the third corner job. Although B.W. Webb appears to have a lead in the competition, earlier this week Pat Shurmur said, "I wouldn't say he's got the upper hand. What I would say is he's done a good job to this point, and he's done a good job covering the slot, and covering outside. That's why he's got our attention." With Donte Deayon expected to return Friday night after missing time with a hamstring injury, it will be interesting to see whether he'll pick up where he left off prior to the injury. Veteran William Gay, who has been moving around between corner and safety, shouldn't be overlooked as well.
3. The NFC will be stronger than the AFC this season.
JOHN SCHMEELK: Fact - This is an EASY one. Last season, the NFC was 41-23 against the AFC during the regular season. The NFC had just seven teams with a negative point differential, but the AFC had 10. If you look at the NFC, every single team has a quarterback they believe is there answer for the future. Some teams might not be right, but every team either has an established veteran that has succeeded before or a high draft pick at quarterback. The NFC should dominate inter-conference matchups once again. It will be a struggle to find wins and earn a playoff spot for every NFC team.
DAN SALOMONE: Fact - The NFC boasts the reigning Super Bowl champions, and the conference only appears to be ascending. Of course, things can do a 180 really quickly in the NFL, but there is just no letting up when you look up and down the divisions in the NFC. The conference is full of teams knocking on the door and players coming back from injuries.
LANCE MEDOW: Fact - Last season, the NFC dominated the AFC in inter-conference play with the NFC winning 41 of the 64 matchups. The NFC East went 9-7 against the AFC West, the NFC South and NFC North both won 10 of 16 games against the AFC East and AFC North, respectively, and the NFC West cruised past the AFC South 12-4. Based on offseason moves, I don't see much changing this season. I could argue all four NFC divisions have at least three teams that could win their respective division titles. Same can't be said for the AFC.
4. Victor Cruz's 99-yard touchdown against the Jets in 2011 was the best regular-season play in Giants history.
JOHN SCHMEELK: Fiction - Since Paul Dottino isn't writing an entry for this, I will happily dig into the past for my answer to this question. I'm going to head all the way back to my birth year, 1981, and the Giants' final regular-season game against the Dallas Cowboys. The scenario was simple: if the Giants won they would make the playoffs for the first time in 18 years. It came down to a potential game-winning kick by Joe Danelo in overtime that went through the goal posts and sent the team to the playoffs.
DAN SALOMONE: Fact -The Giants don't win Super Bowl XLVI without Victor Cruz, and they don't win it without the 99-yard touchdown. Captain Literal Man Lance Medow will argue that because it wasn't the final play of the game, it takes away from its greatness. He's wrong. Seasons, like individual games, are all about momentum swings, and the Giants road the big mo from Cruz's play all the way to putting a fourth Lombardi Trophy in their case.
LANCE MEDOW: Fiction - It may be unpopular to say that play isn't the best, but I've never shied away from holding the minority opinion. If we're talking top five plays of all-time, it's absolutely on the list, but remember, as impressive as the Victor Cruz play was, it came late in the second quarter with an entire half still left in the game and the Giants only leading by three. For example, recovering Mark Sanchez's fumble at the Giants' one-yard line in the fourth quarter was just as important, if not more important, than the Cruz play. I understand the statement says "best" not "most important" but context is necessary when analyzing these plays. That's why I think another play from the 2011 season is the best one in franchise history. Jason Pierre-Paul blocking Dan Bailey's potential game-tying field goal at the end of regulation in Week 14 after an impressive Giants comeback doesn't jump off the page because it wasn't a flashy play. But given its timing and impact on the season, I think it tops the list. You can argue if Bailey made the field goal, the game would have gone to overtime and the Giants could have still won but there's no guarantee that happens and if Dallas won that game, the Cowboys would have improved to 8-5 and the Giants fallen to 7-7. The division title still came down to the final week of the regular season, but if New York doesn't win in Week 14, Dallas likely claims the division and there's no 2011 postseason run. That was an athletic and crucial play by JPP.