Power Rankings: Preseason: 19. This week: 4.
Where they stand: At 6-2, you can make an argument the Giants are the best team in the NFC. In fact, I'm happy to make that argument over the Atlanta Falcons. I think the Giants are a more complete team. You can say the Giants have gotten fat off an easy schedule (and you'll be partially correct), but this team looks totally different than last year's squad that faded after a hot start. This team isn't living off past success. And players such as safeties Antrel Rolle and Deon Grant have brought some attitude to the table. It's also important to note that new defensive coordinator Perry Fewell has changed the mindset. This is a much more aggressive defense that sort of reminds me of what Steve Spagnuolo was doing with this unit in 2007.
Falling: Other than the bad start, there haven't been a lot of players headed in the wrong direction. I suppose you could say that Steve Smith's numbers are down, but that has more to do with Hakeem Nicks' brilliance than anything else. The Giants have had all sort of injuries along the offensive line and starting right tackle Kareem McKenzie had an embarrassing performance against the Titans in Week 3. But Shawn Andrews has filled in admirably at left tackle and the Giants keep marching on. It will be interesting to see what happens at left guard this week with David Diehl out with a hamstring issue. But overall, it's hard to put anyone in the "falling" category.
Rising: Nicks has become one of the best wide receivers in the league. He occasionally loses concentration, but for the most part, he's been a remarkable player for the Giants this season. And running back Ahmad Bradshaw has restored pride to the running game. Offensive linemen know they don't have to stay with blocks forever when Bradshaw's involved because he can make defenders miss. And in one of the great comeback seasons in Giants history (so far), Osi Umenyiora has cast aside all the drama and returned to being a dominant player at defensive end. He and Justin Tuck are incredibly versatile players. And by the way, Eli Manning's having an excellent season. The interception total is a little high, but that's mainly because of the tipped passes.
Midseason MVP: I could take the easy way out and go with co-MVPs, but I'm not going to do that. Let's give it to Nicks. I think his presence on the field has opened things up for Bradshaw and the running game. Both of those players have been excellent.
Outlook: I picked this team to reach the Super Bowl and I'm feeling better about that prediction all the time. Tom Coughlin was on the hot seat after a slow start, but he calmed everyone down and the Giants responded in a big way. This is a team playing with a chip on its shoulder right now. The Eagles are the only team in the NFC East that could beat the Giants at this point.