Between free agency and the NFL Draft, we get a pretty good glimpse of how teams look for the upcoming season. It isn’t a full picture, obviously. The draft is vital to teams building depth and finding cheap pieces to fill roster holes. There are also dozens of quality players who will sign through free agency much later in the spring and into the summer. No one’s roster is set. That being said, mid-March is an accurate projection of who appears best set to compete. After all, a team that looks like a mess right now hardly has enough moves left in its arsenal to change that before Week 1.
To recap, how teams look in March isn’t everything, but it is far from nothing. One team that looks the part, at least according to NFL.com’s most recent power rankings, is the New York Giants. NFL.com ranked the Giants as the fifth-best team in all of football and the second-best in the NFC a week after free agency.
This feels both insane and quite logical at the same time.
First, the insanity. How can New York be better than all but four teams in football when it failed to win a playoff game last season? And it’s not like the team was upset. It had no business winning its playoff game. The team had a somewhat lucky season to get to its 11 wins, and it had an offense that was downright bad. If there are not a dozen teams better than the Giants, something is wrong in the assessment.
That’s the pessimistic fan coming out. There is another side to this ranking. The side that, secretly, quietly, maybe, thinks this is the fifth-best team in football.
For one, New York is somewhat ahead of other teams in terms of building its final product. The Giants have already spent nearly their entire salary cap (holding ~$5 million for rookie signings). Perhaps one more big free-agent add is pending, but that’s about it. The roster is already nearing 90 percent complete. That fact alone puts the franchise in better shape than many competitors. Just look at fellow NFC East favorite Dallas. The Cowboys entered the offseason as the division leader but now have so many more questions left unanswered compared with New York. It isn’t even close, even if the former seemed more talented than the latter in February.
That completeness helps. What helps more is that NY has some great players and major strengths to its roster. The defense should remain elite at all three levels. The offense is still a work in progress but should be great through the air and has peerless talent at the skill positions. Fans of the team harp on the issues that remain. If you take a zoomed-out look, though, this team is really good right now. If you’re feeling generous, you may even say it’s the second-best team in the conference.