The countdown to the start of the NFL season is in full effect with one week of preseason football already in the books. With all three New York teams winning their respective games last weekend, fans are probably hoping this is a sign of good things to come, but everyone knows it’s not how you start, it’s how you finish.
This Saturday all three teams will be away as the Giants take on Indianapolis, while the Jets play against Cincinnati and Buffalo faces the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Can the Giants Recover?
After an upsetting 7-9 season last year, the New York Giants are looking to turn things around and come back stronger. First and foremost, quarterback Eli Manning and defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul will be a huge factor in the team’s success if they can overcome the difficulties they experienced last year. Manning had his worst season with a career high of 27 interceptions, while Pierre-Paul was only able to play in 11 games due to injuries and recorded a measly two sacks.
Along with a healthy Pierre-Paul and a revitalized Manning, the Giants are hoping their offseason additions in the cornerback group, such a Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie (who played last season with the AFC champion Broncos), Zack Bowman and Walter Thurmond (who won the Super Bowl last season as a member of the Seattle Seahawks) will be a strength for the team as the season progresses.
The loss of Justin Tuck to the Oakland Raiders will be felt as he had 11 of the team’s 33 sacks last season and losing Chris Snee to retirement the day before camp will surely leave some question marks, but the Giants are optimistic about this upcoming season. It will be a challenge to bounce back from their mediocre 2013 campaign and with 12 new starters (6 on offense and 6 on defense, respectively), as well as a new offensive coordinator, the Giants have their work cut out for them.
Here Come the Jets
Let’s face it; the New York Jets talk A LOT. They seem to be back to their old ways, making them the team to watch for again this season, even if only for entertainment value.
Rex Ryan is as enthusiastic as ever and it’s catching on with the rest of the team. They’ve spent the majority of training camp boasting about one thing or another. Be it a confident self-declaration from Dee Milliner that he’s the best cornerback, a team-wide claim about their defense being the best or an optimistic outlook about having a future top-5 quarterback.
All this talk is not a good look for them, considering they’ve missed the playoffs the last three straight years, but it’s nothing new coming from the Jets. On paper however, they are a better team than last year that much is true. The additions of Chris Johnson and Eric Decker, who are proven offensive players has helped them add depth. If the Jets can come together like they were starting to at the end of last season, they have a chance to make an impact.
The positivity and continuity among staff and players this season will surely play a big role in their attempt to put up a good season and return to the playoffs.
Can the Buffalo Bills Make the Playoffs?
It’s been 14 years since their last playoff berth, but the Bills look to be heading in that direction at full-speed this season.
After a disappointing 6-10 finish last season with a rookie quarterback and first-year coach, the Bills are pushing forward with their efforts to rebuild and shed their mediocre reputation.
With a draft-night trade for Sammy Watkins, the front office is excited to say the least. He was college football’s top receiver before being drafted and after only two weeks of camp, he seems poised to be a game-changer this season. Quarterback EJ Manuel can benefit greatly from having a talented receiver like Watkins after an uninspiring performance last year.
The hope is that Manuel will be more confident in his second season and won’t feel like all the pressure is on him to win games and having Watkins as his safety net to catch anything within his reach should bolster that confidence. Combine that with the NFL’s best defensive line – including Mario Williams, Kyle Williams and Marcell Dareus who were all voted to last year’s Pro Bowl – and the Buffalo Bills may be a force to be reckoned with this season.