The New York Giants are a weird team. They have a defense that should rank in the top half of the league with James Bradberry leading the group and they have some exciting offensive weapons. Those two things are good, but the quarterback and the offensive line might just be too much to overcome when it’s all said and done. Daniel Jones is entering the crucial third year for rookie quarterbacks and he’s doing it behind an offensive line competing for being the worst in the league. This team just looks like a 7-10 squad on the surface.

Despite all of it, here are 4 bold predictions for the Giants’ 2021 season.

Daniel Jones plays well enough to get the fifth year option

Before next season begins, the Giants have to decide whether or not to extend Daniel Jones’ fifth year option. This is an absolutely crucial season for him and if they had to make the decision right now then Jones wouldn’t get it. Luckily he has this season to prove he’s worth the fifth year. This prediction might not be the most bold, but saying he’ll be anything more than an average quarterback would’ve felt wrong like some guilt you just can’t shake.

Jones has Kenny Golladay, Darius Slayton, Sterling Shepard, Evan Engram, and Kyle Rudolph to throw the ball to. When he’s handing off, then Saquon Barkley is the guy running the ball. The weapons alongside Jones will allow for him to prove he’s good enough. A lot of factors will go in to whether or not Jones gets the option extended to him. First, how well does he actually play this season? If he can be around Teddy Bridgewater level then he might be alright.

Second, how high in the draft are the Giants picking? If it’s top eight then they’ll probably just take a quarterback but in the 12-15 range I’m not so sure. Maybe they take an offensive lineman to help Jones keep improving in years four and five. Either way, things are setting up for the Giants to end up in quarterback purgatory with Daniel Jones.

Saquon Barkley rushes for over 1,200 yards and scores 10+ touchdowns

Speaking of players heading into a big year, Barkley is also approaching his big payday. His current contract has two more seasons counting this upcoming one and Barkley has to know how important this one is after missing almost all of 2020. He has to show the injury didn’t slow him down and have an Adrian Peterson type of bounce back season. Not many have the talent to come back from an ACL injury and immediately return to form, but Saquon is special. There’s a reason the Giants spent the number two overall pick in the 2018 NFL Draft on a running back. Barkley is special and he’s not going to waste time getting back into a rhythm.

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The prediction set here is 1,200 yards and 10 or more touchdowns. This is certainly possible and it was done by Barkley in his rookie season with the Giants. Back in 2018 he rushed for just over 1,300 yards and 11 touchdowns. Since then, it hasn’t been nearly the same. He was pretty good in 2019 with 1,000 yards and six touchdowns but then played only two games in 2020 before going down for the season. He’s had one elite season, one above average season, and one injury plagued season. Time to get back to the elite season in 2021.

The Giants will have a positive turnover differential

Last season the Giants defense had 11 interceptions and 11 fumble recoveries. On offense the Giants threw 11 interceptions and lost 11 fumbles. All of that equals out to an even turnover differential. They’ll either go up or down in 2021 and I’m predicting they’ll have a positive differential. Daniel Jones is basically a turnover machine but he needs to improve. The Giants defense should only be getting better this season. Put those two things together and suddenly the turnover differential is positive.

The total interceptions by the Giants defense ranked 21st in the league at 11 and the fumbles ranked 6th in the league. Fumbles are more luck based than interceptions, but this defense is continuing to get better so it’s a safe bet to say the interceptions will rise. On the other side, the most important thing for Daniel Jones to improve upon is turnovers. This prediction is banking on him having an improved season in what will prove to be a crucial year for Jones overall.

The Giants will finish 9-8

This team is too good to only have 4-6 wins but also not good enough for 10-12 wins. They’ll finish somewhere in between there and I’m banking on them going 9-8. Both the offense and the defense should be league average, setting up for the team to either go 8-9 or 9-8. The wild card may be out of reach at 9-8 but we’ve never seen a 17 game schedule play out so this should be exciting.

The Giants have missed the playoffs in eight of the last nine seasons since winning the Super Bowl. There has been a ton of change and none of it has really worked but if things break right for them then maybe 2021 is the year they start going up instead of down. The division should be more challenging than it was last season simply because of how bad it was overall so that could present a challenge. After all, the Giants went 6-10 last season and finished 2nd in the NFC East. Don’t count on that repeating itself.