New York Giants
2009 record: 8-8 (Third in NFC East)
Steve WycheEli Manning should have a good season if the running game doesn't falter. Safeties are going to have to make too many plays on defense.
3.7Average yards per carry last season for Brandon Jacobs, who only rushed for 835 yards and five touchdowns. The Giants need their bruising back to return in a big way.
After posting back-to-back 1,000-yard seasons as part of a platoon system, Jacobs was overshadowed by backup Ahmad Bradshaw a season ago. The bruising back has struggled to find success running up the middle as he has in the past. If he doesn't rediscover his game quickly, he could be relegated to a limited role as a goal line/short yardage specialist.
Steve SmithSmith emerged as the Giants' No. 1 receiver despite lacking the prototypical size and skills for the role. As a crafty route runner with outstanding hands, Smith does the bulk of his damage working between the hashes as a slot receiver. Although the emergence of Hakeem Nicks could slightly alter his role as the featured receiver, Smith's skills guarantees that he will remain one of Eli Manning's go-to-guys in critical situations.
Bradshaw takes over backfieldAhmad Bradshaw is one of the most explosive, but still underrated, running backs in the league. While a committee with Brandon Jacobs appears to be imminent, fantasy owners shouldn't be shocked to see Bradshaw emerge as the better point producer. He's a major sleeper with real statistical potential.
Three pivotal games
Sept. 12 vs. CarolinaA coin flip determined if the Giants or Jets would get to play the first regular-season game in the new $1.7 billion, 2.1 million-square foot stadium they share. The Giants won and will kick off the year vs. the Panthers. You hate to call Week 1 a pressure-filled situation, but it's safe to say the Giants will put some on themselves to open up the new place in style.
Sept. 19 at IndianapolisA nationally-televised Sunday night showdown with the Colts is a key moment in itself. But this one features a duel between high-profile brothers who are former No. 1 overall picks. The last time the Mannings met, Peyton and the Colts outlasted Eli and the Giants 26-21 in 2006. So who gets the upper hand this time around?
Nov. 21 at PhiladelphiaThe Giants were swept by their NFC East rivals in two high-scoring affairs a year ago, giving the Eagles victories in four straight matchups. This season, New York gets a chance to check out the Kevin Kolb-led Eagles for the first time on Sunday night. And you can believe the outcome of this one will have major implications on the division standings.