The Giants will face significant challenges in 2009, but they certainly have the talent to return to the Super Bowl. The biggest obstacle to that quest will be at wide receiver. Plaxico is gone and Amani Toomer didn’t make it out of training camp in Kansas City. That leaves Domenik Hixon and Steve Smith as the starting receivers, two players with only 109 catches between them in their careers. If that pair, or someone else like first round pick, Hakeem Nicks, can’t become a dependable number one receiver, the Giants are going to struggle offensively.

Things are much more settled on the defensive side of the ball. First and foremost, Osi Umenyiora is back, giving the Giants an excellent three-player rotation at defensive end of Umenyiora, Tuck and Kiwanuka. They have added players like Chris Canty and Rocky Bernard to the defensive line and Clint Sintim, a draft pick, has looked very good at linebacker. Corey Webster and Aaron Ross are two very good cornerbacks while Kenny Phillips is rapidly becoming a top safety. Put it all together and the Giants should be a very tough team to move the ball against.

In many ways this could be a Giants team that mirrors the Super Bowl XXI and XXV champions more than the recent Super Bowl team. Those teams never had great receivers, but they could run the ball and they were punishing on defense. A lot will depend on health, but the Giants should win the NFC East and maybe much, much more.

It all starts on Sunday with a game against hated Washington. Washington made their usual free agent splash and added Albert Haynesworth to their defense. Expect that defense to stack the box against Brandon Jacobs and dare the Giants to pass their way to victory. The prediction here is just like last season’s opener, the Giants start the season off with a win against Washington.