Believe it or not, folks, the NFL season is much closer than you can possibly imagine. So close, in fact, that, if we're going to fit in every NFL team preview by the start of the season, we have to go this early. So there you have it.
Last year, we asked some of our favorite writers to opine why Their Favorite Team Was Better Than Yours. Ultimately, we found this constrictive, and it also might have killed James Frey. So this time, we've just asked them to just run free, talk about their team, their experience as a fan, their hopes, their dreams, their desires for oral sex. All our teams are now assigned; if you sent us an email and we didn't get back to you, we're sorry, and we accept your scorn. But today: The New York Giants.
Your author is Roger Director, author of the upcoming I Dream In Blue, a book about following the 2006 New York Giants, which will be released on August 28. (Check out the the book's MySpace page.) His words are after the jump.
That thunder you hear booming off the Hudson Valley palisades on summer afternoons was ascribed by early Dutch settlers to mythic bowlers knocking giant ten-pins around in the northern mountains. But today we know the truth. That's the sound of the New York football Giants. In camp. And back in pads.
Skeptics abound. Not me. The offense is going to be about as hellacious as a black Ford150 Supercab rumbling down a two-lane blacktop and packed with big boys, shotguns bristling out every window. The defense will be nasty. Especially when Mike Strahan realizes the only way to pay for the tumescent lifestyle of his choice is to remove the baby bottle from his gap-toothed mouth and put back on the Big Blue uni.
Everyone knows what a smart, talented athlete Dave Diehl is, and installing him at left tackle on the O-line and heaving last year's starter, Luke Pettigout, onto the roadside only proves that the new GM Jerry Reese is far from stupid.
Can Brandon Jacobs replace Tiki Barber? No. He's a beast - a match for Jason Bourne and Jet Li rolled into one. But by the third game, when Jacobs is in the intensive care unit, having willingly taken five years' worth of hits, we'll have the guy who can replace Tiki — Reuben Droughns — in the backfield. Twice a thousand-yard runner. And tough. Jerry Reese genius step no. 2, getting Droughns from Cleveland.
On defense. Will the Giants lose three all-pros to injury like they did last year? No way. Moving Mathias Kiwanuka to LB will more than replace LaVar Arrington. Do you think the new defensive coordinator from Philadelphia, Steve Spagnuolo, can stir up one mind-fucking party cocktail out of Mike Strahan, Osi Umeniyora, Kiwanuka and Fred Robbins? They're going to make every opposing quarterback's existence about as risky as window-shopping in a Baghdad market
In fact, a quick look at the Giants' schedule this year shows one thing: We've got a great shot at going unbeaten. For starters, the schedule's easier than last year. Beyond that, I learned something last year, while working on my book, I Dream in Blue, that no one's ever written about. Within the league, after seeing the monstrous machine Jerry Reese is assembling, Giants' opponents are so scared of playing them they are having trouble finding enough guys who aren't too chickenshit to take the field. I predict this:
Sept. 9. Giants 35 Dallas 15
Physicians find a near lethal dose of thorazine in Dallas QB Tony Romo's blood supply when he is found slumped, semi-conscious, half-dressed, in his car, still in his driveway, five minutes before game time. Meanwhile, the Giants' offense blows a few new holes in the Texas Stadium roof.
Sept 16. Green Bay 10 Giants 41
An expert FBI hostage negotiator is rushed into the Packers' dressing room 15 minutes before game time, where Brett Favre is holding Tony Kornheiser at razor point in a toilet stall. Favre threatens to drown Kornheiser if he's made to go out there and face the Giants. Jeremy Shockey! catches his third TD pass of the season, a 99-yarder on which the Packers' defender can be heard tearfully begging, "Please don't let me catch you, Mr. Shockey."
Sept 23. Giants 47 Washington 14
Hours after this game in the nation's capital, as the Giants step off the train on their return to New York, fullback Brandon Jacobs finds Redskins' All-Pro safety Sean Taylor, squashed and stuck to his knee. "I thought I'd scrubbed him off after the game in the shower," Jacobs tells the New York Post's Steve Serby, "but I guess I missed a spot."
Sept. 30. Philadelphia 7 Giants 24
Eli Manning throws his seventh and eighth TD passes of the season, both to Plaxico Burress. Manning and Burress have become the most lethal QB-receiver tandem in the league. The Giants capitalize on several Eagles penalties, including a 15-yarder when officials discover Philadelphia coach Andy Reid's two sons running a flourishing black market gun and drug bazaar on the team's bench.
Oct 7. Jets 20 Giants 23 (OT)
Jets' coach Eric Mangini takes heat for giving the Giants' offense the ball at the beginning of overtime. Tapes of his sideline conversations reveal Mangini hysterically repeating, "All work and no play make Jack a dull boy," to his frantic coaches upstairs in the booth. Eli Manning's passer rating is ahead of Ben Roethlisberger's, Phil Rivers' and Rex Grossman's thus far. Big Blue is 5-0.
Oct. 15. Giants 37 Atlanta 10
As the teams line up for the opening snap, Antonio Pierce whispers across the line of scrimmage, "We're going to put you guys in a rape stand and do to you what Mike Vick did to his dogs," and the game is over quickly. The Giants' defense picks up its league-leading 18th sack of the year.
Oct. 21. San Francisco 21 Giants 48
Amani Toomer catches 13 passes. The defense sacks 49ers QB Alex Smith six times. Kiwanuka runs one fumble back for a touchdown and is on his way to a Pro Bowl season. At the start of the second half, Smith, desperate to avoid any more pounding, is found in a blond wig and silicon breast inserts impersonating a 49ers Gold Rush cheerleader.
Oct 28. Giants 42 Miami 10
Not until they are at 40,000 feet, midway across the Atlantic, are Dolphins players told they're not just visiting London on vacation, but actually have to play the Giants, and the plane erupts in panic. Coach Cam Cameron is severely injured, trampled by the Dolphins' starting defense, which rushes the cockpit in a vain effort to force the plane to turn around.
Mike Strahan is arrested having sex with Brooke's Astor's moldering two month old corpse. But coach Coughlin is willing to overlook Strahan's flaunting of the NFL's good conduct clause "for the good of the team."
Nov. 11. Dallas 0 Giants 2
The first "forfeit" in the league's modern era. On Friday before the game, Texas Ranger search parties with bloodhounds and Geiger Counters locate the abandoned Cowboys team buses at Groom Lake, north of Las Vegas, otherwise known as Area 51 to UFO buffs. America's team has disappeared. The Bush administration and the Pentagon refuse to discuss the team's disappearance, claiming national security concerns about Area 51. But Giants' fans know why the 'Pokes went missing before visiting the Meadowlands.
Nov. 18. Giants 27 Detroit 13
Manning has his fourth 400-yard-game of the year. His QB rating is 111.3; Peyton's is 87. The Lions lure 75-year-old Hall of Fame linebacker Joe Schmidt out of a local shuffleboard tournament to play when no one else will suit up.
Nov. 25. Minnesota 6 Giants 31
Sinorice Moss scores two TDs on kick returns. Big Blue cruises to a 11-0 record getting ready for its game against the Bears, the team that beat them last November in the Meadowlands and sent the Giants into a slide from which they never recovered.
Dec. 2. Giants 24 Chicago 0
Too terrified to scramble in the pocket, Chicago QB Rex Grossman begins 'taking a knee' with 8eightminutes left in the first quarter. The Bears' LB Brian Urlacher meets Brandon Jacobs head-on at the goal line late in the first half, and post-game forensic testing of the spatter patterns in the end zone result in Urlacher's cause of death reading: "Tried to tackle one big motherfucker."
Dec. 9. Giants 38 Philadelphia 9
All week long the Eagles talk smack about ending the Giants' unbeaten streak. But the night before the game Donovan McNabb begins serial, uncontrollable projectile vomiting and is too weak to play. Shockey! snares his 14th TD pass of the year and would have a 15th, but he stops one yard short of the goal line to slug Brian Dawkins in the ball sack. Eli Manning is asked to host Saturday Night Live. He tells them to fuck off, he's got some football to play.
Dec. 16. Washington 17 Giants 58
The Redskins are late coming onto the field because after the pre-game so many were crowded around team chaplain Msgr. Liam O'Herlihy begging him to offer them Last Rites. Many of the Redskins appear wild-eyed and dazed, foaming at the mouth, a few on their backs flailing their legs crazily as the Giants kick off. Tom Coughlin does the Top 10 List on Letterman: Top Ten Reasons Why I Still Won't Laugh. The Giants are 14-0.
Dec. 23. Giants 41 Buffalo 0
On Thursday before the game, the Bills call in renowned psychologist Dr. Phil. At a nationally broadcast team meeting, Dr. Phil tells them that it's okay for a grown man to weep and sob. With Dr. Phil looking on, the Bills vote not to play the Giants. A national uproar ensues. Condoleeza Rice, a huge football fan, intervenes with Coach Coughlin - saying she thinks the game should be played. Behind the scenes, the Secretary of State pleads with Tom Coughlin and Eli Manning and Jeremy Shockey! and Plaxico Burress to take it easy on the Bills. They respond: "Fuck you, Condi."
Dec. 29. New England 10 Giants 50
The Giants complete a historic undefeated season. During the game, Pats QB Tom Brady is heard offering up various super models and actresses he knows for sexual favors if Giants defenders won't grind his ass into the dust on every play. The Giants' final TD is scored by Gibril Wilson, who blocks a field goal and carries the ball, with the placekicker's leg still attached to it and dragging behind him, 87 yards for a touchdown. Afterwards, a triumphant Tom Coughlin still won't smile, but tells me, "Hey, asshole, you picked the wrong Giants' season to write about in your stupid book."