Giants will make playoffs in 2014
Upgrades at two key positions and improved luck will fuel a turnaround
Things sure have changed in the NFC East. For a long time, it was arguably the toughest division in the NFL. Now it is coming off of a season where the four clubs won a total of 28 games, the second-lowest number of wins by a division last year.
The downside to this win/loss showing is a relative drop in prestige, but the upside is it can mean a quick turnaround for any club in the division. The strongest candidate for such a move is the New York Giants, as there are a number of metrics and scouting/personnel factors pointing towards Big Blue being able to notch a double-digit win total and earn a spot in the 2014 playoffs.
Let's examine the reasons the Giants could make a postseason run.
A major turnaround in Eli Manning's turnovers
Last season was one of the worst of Eli Manning's NFL tenure. He posted his lowest Total QBR in the eight years this metric has been tracked (36.5). Manning also had a career high in interceptions (27) and posted his lowest touchdown pass total since becoming a full-time starter (18).
More from ESPN.com
Eli Manning threw a career-worst 27 interceptions last season. A return to his previous form is the Giants' best hope in 2014, writes Dan Graziano. Story
As daunting as those figures are, the reality is a lot of Manning's woes were due to errors other than his own. According to my tape breakdowns, Manning, who had ankle surgery Thursday but should be back in six weeks, had a bad decision rate (BDR) of 2.4 percent (BDR tracks how often a quarterback makes a mental error that leads to a turnover opportunity for the opposing team). That is actually lower than his 2.8 percent BDR in 2012, when he threw just 15 picks, so he actually took a step forward in that category last season. In addition, only three of Manning's interceptions occurred as a result of these bad decisions.
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