The Giants have only been to the playoffs once since their last Super Bowl championship, now seven seasons ago, and that trip didn't turn out well at all. They are intent on going back and lasting a little while sometime in the final few years of Eli Manning's career.
Will it be this year? The Giants believe they are loaded for a run and they are counting on a return to the postseason.
Here's a look at whether their postseason dreams are actually a realistic goal.
The Giants will make the playoffs if ...: The offensive line is at least adequate.
That's a big leap up from last year's "awful," but GM Dave Gettleman's offseason mission was to fix that mess. No doubt he upgraded the talent, but the results in the preseason were mixed. This can't be overstated: With an offense that has this many weapons, the line is everything. If Manning is running for his life or on his back, he can't run the offense as designed. He'll spend his entire season dumping the ball to his hot reads instead of getting an extra second to let things develop. And if he can give Odell Beckham Jr. and Saquon Barkley and all his play-makers just a little extra time ... Wow. Also, an adequate line will help a lot with the run game -- particularly in goal-line and short-yardage situations, which has been an absolute disaster for the Giants in recent years.
The Giants will NOT make the playoffs if ...: They can't run the football.
They have taken the right steps to protect Manning and he certainly has plenty of weapons in the passing game, but if they are again a terrible rushing team, opponents will be able to attack him. A good running game can throw the defense off balance and open up big plays for the likes of Beckham and Barkley. They also need to be able to pick up first downs on third-and-short and to score more easily inside the 5. That would be a nice change considering their short-yardage game in recent years has stunk.
So will they make the playoffs? Yes, but barely.
The Giants are loaded on offense and Manning will get just enough time from his new-look line to help revive his career. The return of Beckham alone is enough to get the back to .500, but if Barkley can actually deliver a running game too, this offense might be difficult to stop. Even the defense should be better, with an aggressive 3-4 scheme that players have been raving about all summer. Depth is a concern and injuries will surely cost them a few wins. But barring a disastrous rash of injuries like they had last year, they have the talent to compete for the NFC East title and at least be a wild-card team.
Prediction time: 9-7, first NFC wild card