The first thing you look for every time you put on Giants film: How is their opponent defending ODELL BECKHAM JR.? Or, perhaps more accurately, how is it doubling Beckham? That won't change this season, even with the signing of six-time Pro Bowl receiver BRANDON MARSHALL. Beckham will remain enemy No. 1 for defenses because there isn't a greater big-play threat in football. But the big-bodied Marshall should also thrive in an offense that features slant routes.
• New York's ground game, ranked 29th a year ago, must improve, but that won't be easy in its three-receiver offense. Because the Giants have only six run blockers (the O-line and a tight end), they can create fewer gaps and deploy far fewer formations, restricting their rush designs. (On the bright side, they often face fewer defenders in the box.) Really, New York's ground attack consists of two basic plays, run primarily out of shotgun: inside zone, with double teams right up the gut, and "power," with a pulling guard.
• ELI MANNING has always made the occasional boneheaded turnover, but he has more than compensated with his overall play. That said, he had far too many interceptions last year against underneath zone defenders in basic coverages, especially for a quarterback with his experience.
• The defense carried this team in 2016. Expect coordinator STEVE SPAGNUOLO to be an even more creative, aggressive play-caller now that he has a better grasp of his personnel. Last season he was learning on the fly about CB JANORIS JENKINS, CB ELI APPLE, DT DAMON HARRISON and DE OLIVIER VERNON (not a bad quartet of newcomers, by the way). Spagnuolo loves to blitz.
• One featured blitzer is third-year strong safety LANDON COLLINS, who made first-team All-Pro last year. Collins is not good when he's reacting; he struggles when forced to backpedal, which is why teams go after him in man coverage. But when he's in attack mode, he's as dangerous as almost any defender in football. Spagnuolo has been shrewd in figuring out how to use Collins, who last season responded with five interceptions, four sacks and consistently strong tackling against the run.
"WHEN COLLINS IS IN ATTACK MODE, HE'S AS DANGEROUS AS ALMOST ANY DEFENDER IN FOOTBALL."
SI'S 2017 PREDICTION
2016 RECORD 11--5
ANDY BENOIT'S 400 MMQB ON.SI.COM/400
23 ODELL BECKHAM JR. WR
57 OLIVIER VERNON DE
90 JANORIS JENKINS CB
94 DAMON HARRISON DT
104 ELI MANNING QB
118 JASON PIERRE-PAUL DE
146 DOMINIQUE RODGERS-CROMARTIE CB
163 LANDON COLLINS SS
166 BRANDON MARSHALL WR
175 ELI APPLE CB
204 WESTON RICHBURG C
311 JUSTIN PUGH G
369 SHANE VEREEN RB