2005_09_sgiantslogo.jpgMany years ago, Three Dog Night warned “Eli’s Coming” and Giants’ fans have to hope they knew what they were talking about. For all the great moves New York made in the off-season, from adding LaVar Arrington, Will Demps and Sam Madison to drafting Barry Cofield and Mathius Kiwanuka, the season will come down to how much Eli Manning has improved. If he is the same QB who barely completed over 50% of his passes, they are in trouble. Conversely, if he is like many of the great QB’s of NFL history who took a big jump forward in their third year, New York is a legitimate Super Bowl contender.

Working against the Giants is the toughest schedule in the league as measured by opponents’ winning percentage. They have eight games against playoff teams from 2005 and their first eight games will be a brutal stretch that they cannot afford to come out of at less than 4-4.

If they do emerge through the first half of their schedule at 4-4 or better, they should win at least five more games and be in contention for a playoff berth. As the Steelers proved last year, even a sixth seed can win it all, so getting into the playoffs is the goal. Gothamist thinks they will finish the year at 10-6, which should get them into the playoffs.

Game one is getting all of the hype since it is Manning vs. Manning, but it really comes down to Peyton against the Giants defense. As the Steelers showed last January, if you can pressure Manning and force him to make quick throws, you have a chance. With all of their pass rushers, the Giants should be able to do that. The problem is, the Colts have a very good defense and they will probably look to take away Tiki Barber.

That will leave it up to Eli and while Gothamist thinks he will make great strides this year, don’t expect him to pull this game out, Colts win 24-14.