- Ohm Youngmisuk, ESPNNewYork.com
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The New York Giants enter the second half of their season soaring. They are riding a five-game winning streak and are looking very much like the best team in the NFC. Perry Fewell's defense is ranked first in the NFL and Kevin Gilbride's offense is second.
The Giants still have some flaws that could haunt them as turnovers and special teams have been thorns in Tom Coughlin's side. But the Giants look more like a team that can play even better. Still, can the Giants keep this up when the level of competition increases? So far, the Giants have beaten the likes of Carolina, Chicago, Houston, Detroit, Dallas and Seattle. Those teams have a combined 17-31 record.
Health is always a concern for a team ravaged by injuries last season. The Giants already lost Mathias Kiwanuka for the year with a herniated disk in his neck and injuries are taking their toll on the offensive line with Shaun O'Hara and David Diehl nursing injuries and backup Adam Koets out for the year.
The Giants also are no strangers to starting fast and struggling at the finish. But the Giants' chemistry has been excellent, the offense has looked unstoppable and the defense has been suffocating at times. They have more veteran experience and depth and should be a top-three NFC team with the way the rest of the NFC powers have struggled at times this season.
Giants' midseason awards
Offensive MVP: Nicks. Wait until he starts breaking off those 50-yard touchdowns.
Defensive MVP: Umenyiora. Once threatened retirement, now has helped Giants retire five quarterbacks and counting in games this season.
Special teams MVP: Tynes. Most consistent performer thus far.
Most improved: Canty and Bernard. Healthy again, the two defensive tackles have combined with Cofield to become a run-stopping force.
Least improved: Clint Sintim. The linebacker who was taken in the second round in 2009 had a chance to start this season and wasn't able to take advantage.
Biggest surprise: Goff. Nobody asks what the Giants are going to do without Antonio Pierce anymore.
Biggest disappointment: Bulluck. The veteran linebacker was eased into camp after knee surgery last year and then he was slowed by a painful toe injury that cost him three games. His impact will come in the second half of the season.
Best rookie: Pierre-Paul. With more snaps in the second half on defense, the rookie will get better.
Best offseason acquisition: Rolle. More than his play on the field, the outspoken safety has provided leadership and swagger.
Worst offseason acquisition: Reynaud. Was supposed to help ease the loss of Domenik Hixon.
Best-kept secret: Joseph. The second-round pick may not play much this season unless injuries open up a spot but Coughlin wishes a numbers game wouldn't keep him from playing DT more.
Biggest concern: Special teams. It is improving, at least.
Key to the second half: Staying healthy and cutting down on turnovers. The offensive line is already banged up.
On the hot seat: Special teams coach Tom Quinn. Quinn's unit has shown improvement but it can't cost the Giants any games.
Best coaching move: Hiring Fewell as defensive coordinator. Coughlin found the perfect man to replace Bill Sheridan and Fewell has galvanized the defense.
Worst coaching move: The Giants starting and staying too long with one true linebacker and six defensive backs to combat Peyton Manning, who shredded them with the run and then the pass in a 38-14 rout.
Game to watch: The Giants' two remaining games against the Eagles will likely decide the NFC East.
Giants will win the division if: The Giants must stay healthy, reduce turnovers, improve on special teams and find a way to stop Michael Vick.
Only way they miss the playoffs is: If injuries, special teams and complacency derail the season. The schedule gets tougher so we will find out if the Giants are for real.
Player ready to emerge: Andrews. With Diehl hurting and possibly out for a few weeks, Andrews' opportunity is now.
Player least likely to return in 2011: Reynaud. Already could be losing his job to Blackmon.
Midterm Grades: The Giants enter the second half of their season soaring.