Most team with veteran quarterbacks fancy themselves to be playoff contenders. Officials in New York might feel that way, but they shouldn’t. Straddling the fence between Eli Manning and Daniel Jones at quarterback is going to lead the team down a disastrous path in 2019.
That doesn’t mean there isn’t some value to be had when betting on the Giants over/under for the season. Currently, oddsmakers are offering you the chance to wager on New York at either 5.5 or 6 total wins for the year. No one should reasonably expect the Giants to challenge for an NFC East title, but there is a roadmap to respectability for this team.
The downside is that road is filled with potential potholes. A lot of things are going to need to go right for Pat Shurmur’s team to scratch out a .500 record. Eight wins would be a terrific accomplishment for this coaching staff given the questions about the talent on their roster.
The obvious question Giants fans need to answer is what the team can realistically expect from the quarterback position. Manning deserves a ton of credit for what he’s done for the franchise during his career, but the ugly truth is that he’s a below average starting quarterback at this stage of his career. If the franchise insists on playing him all 16 games this passing game is not going to put up numbers. At best, the Giants can hope Manning is able to take care of the football and manage the game.
Turning to Jones isn’t necessarily a better option. Going with the young guy is the right choice for the franchise to try to redevelop into a playoff contender, but he’s not the sort of rookie who’s going to step right in and take the NFL by storm. There are serious questions about whether or not Jones deserved to be such a high draft pick. If he gets inserted into the starting lineup, he’ll take some serious lumps.
Obviously, losing wide receiver Odell Beckham isn’t going to make life easier for any Giants signal caller. Golden Tate and Sterling Shepard are both adequate starting wideouts, but neither guy is going to develop into a star. Tight end Even Engram will need to play like a Pro Bowler to drag this passing game up to the level required to achieve NFL mediocrity.
The team’s one offensive hope is that Saquon Barkley can develop into a legitimate NFL MVP candidate. That’s not out of the question. He’s a special talent and he’s running behind an underrated offensive line. Look for Will Hernandez to take a big step forward in his second year. Barkley is going to grind out a ton of yards running behind his left guard.
The problem is that Barkley is going to be forced to compete against a ton of eight man fronts. He’s an amazing talent, but teams are going to load up against the run to stop him. His effectiveness is going to take a hit as a result.
If the Giants can scratch out a league average offense they should be pretty pleased. Anything more than that would be a significant bonus. That severely limits the team’s potential.
If Shurmur and his coaching staff could count on a stellar defense to carry the day it might be enough to lift this to an eight or even nine win team. This group doesn’t have that kind of talent though. The lack of difference makers on the defensive side of the ball are going to sentence New York to the bottom of the NFC East standings.
If Dexter Lawrence and Deandre Baker don’t play really well as rookies, this unit could easily finish in the bottom five of the NFL. Combine that with an offense that should finish in the bottom 10 and it’s easy to see why expectations are so low.
Ultimately, the Giants’ ability to go over their projected win total of 5.5 will largely depend on whether or not they can handle their business against the Redskins. It’s hard to imagine a world in which they win a game against either the Eagles or Cowboys. That means New York will need to sweep Washington to hit the six-win mark.
The Redskins certainly aren’t a good NFL team, but they should be favored to take out the Giants at home. That means 5-11 feels like a reasonably optimistic projection for New York’s final record. We’re willing to trust Barkley to drag this roster to five wins, but betting on the Giants to do anything more is just wishful thinking. This team is still multiple years away from constructing a roster capable of making a run to the playoffs.