COMMENTARY | Earlier this month, I listed three goals New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning must accomplish this upcoming season. Not only do I believe he will achieve all of them, but I'm confident that Manning will have a huge season -- maybe the best of his career -- in 2013. Now before you go accusing me of looking at things through blue-colored glasses, consider these three reasons for my bold prediction.
Best Receivers Yet -- Manning will have no shortage of weapons this upcoming season. Assuming Victor Cruz is on the field, he'll have a pair of game-breaking wide receivers in Cruz and Hakeem Nicks, a pass-catching tight end in Brandon Myers and long-ball threat Louis Murphy. This year's collection of receivers arguably is better than the group New York had in 2011 when Manning tossed for a career-high 4,933 yards and 29 touchdowns on the way to winning Super Bowl XLVI.
Bolstered Offensive Line -- Last season, the Giants allowed a league-low 20 sacks. In fact, Manning was dropped behind the line of scrimmage on only 3.6 percent of his pass attempts. Granted, he was rushed and knocked down often, but Manning should have enough time to throw the ball this season, especially with addition of first-round pick Justin Pugh to the offensive line. Moreover, the rest of the unit will return intact, led by cornerstone tackle William Beatty, who signed an extension in the offseason.
Improved Running Game -- A potent passing game often starts with a solid ground game and the Giants' rushing attack stands to improve from last season. David Wilson, who averaged five yards per carry in 2012, is projected to start with Andre Brown serving as the backup. Brown rushed for a team-best eight touchdowns despite missing eight games due to injury. If the Giants can move the ball on the ground, which I think they will, Manning will benefit from a balanced offense.
So there you have it, three reasons why I think Manning will have a big season in 2013. And, for the Giants to make the playoffs, he might have to be at his best. New York's defense gave up a franchise-high 6,134 this past season and hasn't improved much (on paper) so far this offseason.
Will Manning put up career numbers this year? Can Big Blue make the playoffs without a big season from its quarterback? Let me know in the comments section below.
Adam Martini is a freelance sports writer with more than 15 years of experience covering amateur and professional sports for several print and online media outlets. He tracked the New York Giants for Yahoo! Contributor Network during the team's Super Bowl run in 2011-12. Adam can be found on Twitter @Pegcitysports.Sources
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