Giants coach Tom Coughin will find out almost immediately just what he can expect from his crew. (90650)

Special to the AmNews

The question that must be examined as the Giants move toward their first game of the regular season Sept. 8 on the road against the Detroit Lions is, are they better than the 7-9 unit of last season?

Only time will tell. Preseason records and performances can be misleading. NFL coaching staffs dissect seasons into fourths. The first fourth of the Giants 2013-14 campaign was disastrous, and it spilled over into the second quandrant as they began the season 0-6. It was an unworkable deficit to overcome for a team expected to be a playoff contender.

To the credit of head coach Tom Coughlin and the leadership in the locker room from veterans Antrel Rolle, Justin Tuck, Eli Manning and several others, the Giants won seven of their next 10 games, including a four-game winning streak immediately after the six straight losses.

It is a near certainty that Giants won’t begin this season on a six-game losing streak, but they can’t fall below .500 either after six games into their schedule and expect to end a two-year postseason absence. In what aspects are the Giants, at least presumably, better than they were a season ago? Let’s start with the secondary. They are deep and experienced. Led by Rolle and fourth-year cornerback Prince Amukamara, the Giants have the pieces to be one of the best defensive backfields in the league and anchor a potentially top 10 defense.

The Giants’ running game, despite the instability on the offensive line, should be much more productive than last season’s 29th-ranked ground attack that averaged a lowly 88.3 yards per game. Rashad Jennings and rookie Andre Williams should provide a solid tandem.

In contrast to the aforementioned upgrades, the offensive line is a major concern. The unit was shaky in the preseason, and as a result, Manning was unable to find a comfortable rhythm as quarterback. If they don’t coalesce early, the Giants may fall into a hole too deep to recover for a playoff run.

The prediction here is that the Giants will surprise many.