Yes, this is exactly what the analysts were saying after a 5-0 start last season before injuries caused the ship to sink. CC Brown and Aaron Rouse played horribly, and a small-scale mutiny gave way to embarrassing and unforgivable laydowns against their final two foes of the 2009 season.
The Giants still have potential to throw a monkey wrench in the purported coronation of the Packers, or the continued reign of the new "America's Team," the Saints. Furthermore, this bodes well for a team that has had to listen to a lot of noise from the other side of their new house from those who have all but guaranteed their berth in Super Bowl XLV, as well as the typical inter-divisional Dallas bluster who would like nothing more than to be the first team ever to host and win a championship on their own field.
If the Giants' defense can hold sway at or near the level of play that they showed yesterday after avenging their listless home finale at their the Old Meadowlands, there is no team in the conference who can consistently hold the avalanche of pressure that Perry Fewell's troops can potentially bring.
Yesterday against the Panthers, it served as a big-time confidence booster headed into their first big litmus test of the season against the Colts. Aside from Matt Dodge's worst nightmare come to life, this was a look into how good the Giants probably were last year, only manifest nearly a full calendar year later.
Eli Manning was efficient (despite his three interceptions, though not really his fault on any) as usual, and found his clear No. 2 (new No. 1?) receiver in Hakeem Nicks. Ahmad Bradshaw ran hard all day. A very solid day offensively.
But it all comes off what the defense can do. Panthers quarterback Matt Moore did his part to make the defense look better than it actually was, but despite his self-inflicted gaffes, the unit is clearly revitalized.
None of this is to say there isn't work to be done, and that they should rest on their laurels, as they readily admitted happened after their good start last year. The Colts will undoubtedly be looking to right their own ship after the Texans' Arian Foster ran to the tune of 231 yards and three touchdowns on them.
Then Chris Johnson and Vince Young come into town the week after. Then the Bears with Matt Forte doing his best Marshall Faulk impersonation for the newly Mike Martz-lead offense. The vaunted Texans offense then comes calling, before they finally get another likely winnable game against a dangerous and improving Lions squad. The schedule makers were kind early on last year; not so much this year.
If the Giants can survive the next four weeks, it can only fortify their confidence going forward. After the bloodletting of last year, they seem poised to be a potential player in a crowded NFC field of heavyweights.
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