NFL PREVIEWS: New York Giants

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Champs or chumps: This team falls somewhere in between. The don¿t have what it takes to win a championship, but they are far from chumps — unless you insist on focusing on their special teams play from last season. Reasons for hope: The offense really began to cook after head coach Jim Fassel simplified the attack and put the ball in the hands of his key players. Quarterback came on strong in the second half of last season when tight end began to emerge as a big-time threat. Toss in the 1,900 or so yards running back will amass, and this is a team that can win a shoot-out.

Meet the 2003
Projected offensive lineup

Projected defensive lineup

Projected special teams lineup
PR Mitchell

Scout's take on the Giants
"Former Redskin and Eagle Brian Mitchell still has at least another solid season left. He brings more than just dependability. Mitchell is simply a winner. That will rub off on the Giants."
— Scouting insider Brian DeLucia

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  • Don¿t get too excited: The defense ranked in the top 10 in the league last season, but it doesn¿t force many turnovers and tends to wear down as the game wears on. New York blowing a 24-point, third-quarter lead to lose to San Francisco in the Wild Card game is a painful reminder. Management addressed some depth issues on this side of the ball, but we¿ll have to wait and see if there is much difference. Hello, my name is: . The hope his big-play ability in the return game tips the balance of power in the division from Philadelphia to New York. Don¿t underestimate his impact. New York¿s inferior play on special teams was a constant source of friction and frustration for the players and coaching staff. Mitchell¿s presence should provide a huge emotional boost. Revolving door: The lost the right side of their offensive line when guard and tackle departed in free agency. New York lost a marquee name in cornerback , but coaches and players around the league will tell you his performance had slipped noticeably in recent years. The secondary isn¿t a concern. What happens on the right side of the offensive line is. Ones to watch: Too bad there is no rematch with San Francisco on the schedule. The have a brutal four-game stretch beginning Nov. 2, with games against the , Atlanta (Nov. 9), Philadelphia (No. 16) and Tampa Bay (Nov. 24). The forecast: Fassel¿s teams traditionally finish strong. It¿s a good thing, given what the schedule looks like in October and November. The should be in the thick of the Wild Card race, but that doesn¿t make them an elite team. Veteran NFL correspondent David Moore is a regular contributor to
    Tagged: Vikings, Giants, Buccaneers, Cornelius Griffin, Brandon Short, Dhani Jones, William James, Ike Hilliard, Amani Toomer, Kerry Collins, Tiki Barber, Shaun Williams, Jeff Feagles, Jeremy Shockey, Rich Seubert, Ian Allen, David Diehl

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