Three months, people. It feels like a long time, but the 2013 NFL season will be here faster than you realize. In the meantime, we might as well speculate, because who doesn't love speculation and predictions?
Here are four bold and quasi-bold projections for the 2013 New York Giants.
1. Victor Cruz and Hakeem Nicks will start Week 1, combine for 2,700 yards and 20 touchdowns
I'm not worried about Cruz holding out because these things rarely span into the regular season, and Nicks has only been absent for voluntary activities. Nicks' agent has also stated that his client's contract isn't a factor.
We aren't close to the 11th hour for either player. Cruz will eventually sign his tender after making a statement, even if it costs him a few bucks. Either that or he and/or the team will finally cave a little bit and get a long-term deal done.
And once they're back, the Giants will benefit from the fact that Nicks presumably will no longer be affected by the foot and knee issues that plagued him in 2012. Those two together and healthy make up one of the best 1-2 wide receiver punches in the NFL, and there's no reason to believe they won't shine together again in 2013.
2. David Wilson will become a star, rushing for 1,300-plus yards
With a lot of support from the passing game and with the offensive line likely receiving a boost from top pick Justin Pugh, look for Wilson to become a huge weapon this season. The 2012 first-round selection was really coming into his own late last year, and he'll likely be the top back with Ahmad Bradshaw gone while also playing a big role as a returner.
The speedster out of Virginia Tech averaged 5.7 yards per carry while scoring four touchdowns (one on a return) during the final four weeks of the 2012 campaign. That stretch surely helped give the Giants the confidence necessary to release Bradshaw in the offseason.
So while Andre Brown will certainly play a supportive role and Wilson will have to become better at blocking and picking up blitzes, expect the latter to shine in 2013.
3. Damontre Moore will play a major role
Rookies rarely see the field on Tom Coughlin-coached teams, but the Giants might have found an NFL-ready stud to step into a major position of need early on. Moore, who had 21 sacks, five forced fumbles and 39 tackles for loss during his final 24 games at Texas A&M, has a huge opportunity with Jason Pierre-Paul injured and Osi Umenyiora gone.
JPP could be back in time for the start of the season, but even if he doesn't miss time, his absence this summer will give Moore a chance to prove himself. Expect that to pay off, with the 20-year-old bucking a trend and working his way into a rotation that has lost some luster over the last 12 months.
4. The Giants will miss the playoffs for the fourth time in five years
It's hard to believe they've fallen short three of the last four years, mainly because there was a Super Bowl run wedged in there. But this team just doesn't appear to have that in them. Eli Manning is great, and the offense will score points, but the D has taken so many hits.
The linebacking corps is weak, with scrap pieces Dan Connor and Keith Rivers slated to start. Up front, Umenyiora's gone, JPP's hurt, and Cullen Jenkins—who's also a spare part cast aside elsewhere—is likely to start. Corey Webster was terrible last season, but he's still the starter, and now they've lost Kenny Phillips over the top.
It's 2013. So long as you can score points, you can compete. But with the NFC East getting better and that defense in shambles, I think the Giants' top-notch passing game will merely prevent them from being bad rather than help them get back to the playoffs.
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