The regular season is mere days away, and the odds are already against the New York Giants. As if a mountain of injuries weren't enough, now the Giants will have to deal with being even bigger underdogs.
Art Stapleton tweeted out two pretty interesting tidbits on Tuesday afternoon. For one, he noted, via Bovada, that the Giants are 2/1 favorites (along with the Dallas Cowboys) to win the NFC East. The Washington Redskins (5/2) and Philadelphia Eagles (4/1) follow the two teams.
The Giants and Cowboys share something else, though, and Stapleton pointed it out in a separate tweet. Both teams are 25/1 long shots to win the Super Bowl this year. The only edge the Giants have on the Cowboys, however, is in the race for the NFC title. New York comes in at 12/1, while the Cowboys follow closely at 14/1 (tied with the Chicago Bears). The Giants' odds rank them sixth in the conference behind the San Francisco 49ers (4/1), Seattle Seahawks (5/1), Green Bay Packers (11/2), Atlanta Falcons (7/1) and New Orleans Saints (10/1).
If this is any indication of the depth of the NFC this season, then it's clear that the Giants have their work cut out for them. Of the aforementioned teams with better odds, the Giants will play only the Packers (November 17) and the Seahawks (December 15). These will be key games for Big Blue, as they will be good benchmark games heading into the final few games of the season. If they can build up confidence in these games, then the rest of the regular season slate should become easier.
Defying the odds will really be up to Eli Manning, the defensive line and creative coaching of Tom Coughlin. Manning will need to make his receivers better by giving them opportunities to succeed. He'll also need to produce at a high level with first-time starter David Wilson receiving the bulk of the carries until Andre Brown returns around Week 10. Taking as much pressure off Wilson as possible will be huge.
The defensive line will have to step up in a big way. Losing Osi Umenyiora was difficult, but the team has a plethora of options to replace him. Look for Jason Pierre-Paul and Justin Tuck to come out of the gate with a vengeance. Should the defensive line re-establish their identity from a few seasons ago, they'll be tough to run through.
As far as Coughlin goes, he'll just need to pull the right strings and put his players in the best position to succeed. He doesn't play favorites and generally makes fair decisions, so it'll be up to him to continue that trend in 2013-14.
With a little help and some strong coaching, the Giants can defy these odds and climb the ranks in the NFC. Sure, injuries have hit them hard, but that doesn't mean that they can't overcome the losses.
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