As the NFL lockout ended, the Giants knew that had many holes to fill if they wanted to make the playoffs this year. Instead of filling holes, Giants General Manger Jerry Reese made more holes.

The Giants (and fans) watched and watched as their hated rival, Philadalphia Eagles, made their team much stronger.

Right when the lockout ended, the Eagles went right to work on July 29th. The Eagles were able to trade back-up quarterback Kevin Kolb to the Cardinals for star cornerback Dominque Rodgers Cromartie and a second round draft pick for the 2012 season. They were also able to agree to a 5 year deal with 2011 pro-bowler Jason Babin.  Hours later the most sought out athlete in free agency, Nnamadi Asomugha signed a 5 year deal with the Eagles to make their cornerback depth the best in the NFL, and possibly give the Eagles the best defense. While the Eagles did that on the 29th, the Giants had to put defensive end Osi Umenyiora on the did not report list.

Steve Smith, Kevin Boss, Shaun O'Hara and Rich Seubert were all fan favorites among the Giants universe, but they all were lost during the free agency as the Giants didn't have a large enough cap room. Smith signed with the division rival Eagles, Boss signed with the Raiders, and both O'Hara and Seubert were released at the start of training camp.

Plaxico Burress was available this season after serving his two year sentence in prison on gun possession charges. Many Giants fans wanted the Super Bowl 42 game changer to return to New York. He did come back to New York, but not to the Giants, Burress singed a one year $3 million (all guranteed) with the New York Jets. The Giants suffered another loss. They couldn't possibly lose anyone else this season, could they?

A day after the 19th overall selection in the 2011 draft signed, former Nebraska start cornerback Prince Amukamara was sidelined after breaking his left foot on the metatarsal bone. The Giants later said they were expecting him back on October 9th against the Seattle Seahawks (5th week).

As pre-season began, it was obvious the Giants 1st team offense was not in sync, they looked horrible. Eli Manning didn't throw one touchdown in any of the 3 games he appeared in. But he has confidence, so much confidence that he believes he is in the same class as New England Patriot 3-time Super Bowl champ, Tom Brady.

"I consider myself in that class," Manning said. "And Tom Brady is a great quarterback, he's a great player and what you've seen with him is he's gotten better every year. He started off winning championships and I think he's a better quarterback now than what he was, in all honesty, when he was winning those championships. I think now he's grown up and gotten better every year and that's what I'm trying to do. I kind of hope these next seven years of my quarterback days are my best."

Now let's not get carried away by his "zero" touchdowns, because after all, he didn't play fully in any one of those games. What is a concern, however, is that Eli has lost two of his favorite targets in Boss and Smith, both deciding to not re-sign with the giants.

With the loss of Boss, the Giants no longer have a conistant blocker, and the pass catching ability that the Giants love to use in the redzone. That's one big whole to have in your offense, so the Giants are going to need to improve in their run game. That will be hard with the loss of Rich Seubert and Shaun O'Hara who both were long time Giants, and part of what used to be one of the best o-lines in football.

Manning also lost Steve Smith, a guy that knew how to play the slot position, making big plays down the middle of the field, and Manning's favorite target on third down. Smith also has the Giants' record for most receptions in a season, when he recorded 107 for 1,220 yards in the '09 season.

Dominek Hixon or Victor Cruz are not nearly as good as Smith was at route running, or a reliable third down option. So is it really Manning's fault that he couldn't move the ball down the field? Another concern at reciever is former third round pick Mario Manningham who is not a number two receiver, but is going to have to step up this year, becuase the Giants are going to need some big play production from the former Michigan star.

During the 2nd pre-season game, that was played against the Chicago Bears, number 1 cornerback on the depth chat, Terrell Thomas tore his ACL. That brings the tally to 3 cornerbacks the Giants have now lost for at least a month, both Thomas and backup Bruce Johnson are done for the season, while first round pick Prince Amukamara is out for at least a month.

Before the season has even started, many people have written the Giants off, especially when comparing the Giants to the Eagles "dream team". Some even have last years dissapointment, Dallas Cowboys as finishing ahead of the Giants in the NFC East.

But who remembers 2007? I sure do, and many people wrote the Giants off that season when they started off the year 0-2 and almost lost to the Redskins, but were able to comeback and win after a great defensive stop.

The defense is without 3 key players in Osi Uemnyiora, Terrell Thomas and Prince Amukamara, but this season they may be forgotten with their stellar play in the pre-season by Jason Pierre-Paul and Aaron Ross.

Do the Giants have a chance? Yes. Can the Giants be playoff contenders? Yes. Are they a long shot at winning anything this season (division, conference, super bowl)? Yes.

Here is Giants Universe's latest predictions.

Giants @ Washington W: The Redskins have failed to make the playoffs the previous seasons, and I can't even remember the last time the Redskins have even won a playoff game. With Rex Grossman starting week 1, the Giants defense should be able to put a lot of pressure on him. Record 1-0

Giants vs St.Louis W: This is a game the Giants may have to fight 'till the final second. Rams HC and former Giants defensive coordinator Steve Spagnolu is dangerous, and behind the arm of young Sam Bradford this game will come down to the wire but the Giants will hold on to win it. Record 2-0

Giants @ Philadelphia L: The Eagles are poised to be Super Bowl contenders and are presumed to easily win the NFC East. The Eagles want it all this year as they they spent big in free agency this season. Usually the Giants and Eagles games come down to a last ditch play, or a 2 min drill, look for Michael Vick to get behind that Philadelphia crowd and win this one. Record 2-1

Giants @ Arizona W: This looks like to be an easy matchup, the Cardinals are in the rebuilding faze, coming of a disastrous 5-11 season. But don't forget the Cardinals made a splash this season giving long term contracts to QB Kevin Kolb and WR Larry Fitzgerald. Record 3-1

Giants vs Seattle W: The Seahawks shocked the world last year by not only making the playoffs but then beat the then reigning Super Bowl champion Saints. However, they still did have a losing season going 7-9, and with new QB Tavaris Jackson, there seems to be no way the Seahawks can win this game away. Record 4-1

Giants vs Buffalo W: The Bills are another rebuilding franchise and really do not have any pieces in Buffalo other then wide receiver Stevie Johnson. The Giants also have the advantage of former Bills Interm Head Coach and now New York Giants defensive coordinator Perry Fewell. Look for the Giants to walk away with another win heading into the bye week. Record 5-1

Bye Week (If the Giants can be 5-1 by the bye week, that would be huge for this team).

Giants vs Miami W: Miami is a team that heading into this season is on the bubble as a playoff contender, but unfortunately is in one of the toughest divisions having to play the Jets and Patriots twice. Although Miami did have a loosing season last year, they are still a dangerous team especially with Brandon Marshall at wideout. This one should be close but the Giants should edge it out due to the lack of run game the Dolphins are stuck with.  Record 6-1

Giants @ New England L: This will be the first time these two teams have met since Super Bowl 42 (not including pre-season games). Unfortunately the outcome for the Giants this time will not be as magical. The Patriots are still one of the best teams in the NFL even though they have faltered in the post season the last 3 years. Tom Brady is still dangerous. Bill Bellicheck is still a genius. The Giants will not be able to stop the Patriots offense here. Record 6-2

Giants @ San Francisco W: The 49ers were predicted to easily walk away with the NFC West division last year instead finished with a laughable 6-10 record and got Head Coach Mike Singletary fired. First year coach Jim Harbaugh (brother or Ravens Head Coach John Harbaugh) is hoping to bring this 49er team back to the glory days of Joe Montana and Jerry Rice, however the chances of this team even being in contention for a wild card berth are slim to none. Look for the Giants to rebound with a victory here. Record 7-2

Giants vs Philadelphia L: The rematch versus their division rivals will be much hyped up and again will most likely be another close game. However the Eagles are known for their late game heroics against the Giants (ahem Desean Jackson anyone) while the Giants are known for the second half collapses. Record 7-3

Giants @ New Orleans L: The Giants will hope to rebound after another loss to the Eagles, that however will not happen against this talented Saints offense. Drew Brees will simply over match this Giants' poor passing defense. Look for this game to be a high scoring affair, one Eli Manning will not be able to keep up with. Record 7-4

Giants vs Green Bay L: The Last time these two teams met, Aaron Rodgers led the packers to a blowout win that basically sealed the Giants fate of missing the playoffs. Look for the same thing here as the Giants will lose their third straight game and go onto another second half collapse and a downward spiral. The reigning Superbowl Champs will be just too much for the Giants. Record 7-5

Giants @ Dallas L:The Cowboys had a surprisingly dreadful season last year going 6-10 and tied for last place with the Redskins. It would be shocking if they repeated that same type of play this year, this is a team that must be taken seriously. The Cowboys have Super Bowl caliber talent on their team, and look for them to push the Giants to the very end at home and pull the victory out with the receiving core of Miles Austin and Dez Bryant. Record 7-6

Giants vs Washington W: The Giants will be limping into Washington, but they will be limping in with a chip on their shoulder. Knowing they will need a win here, the Giants will gladly take one from this poor Redskins team. No one knows who will be quarterbacking this late into the season, so look for the Giants to explode on both sides of the ball and a blowout here. Record 8-6

Giants @ New York L: The long awaited New York battle is here. Manning vs Sanchez. Coughlin vs Ryan. Giants vs Jets. This will be Plaxico Burress' return (First Season Game) to New York (Giants). This game can really go either way, as the Giants have a better offense and the Jets have a better defense. Which "fense" will show up? Jets defense will show up. Record 8-7

Giants vs Dallas W: Look for the Giants to rebound and finish out the season strong against the Cowboys. The pressure will be on for the Giants to make the playoffs and having a 9-7 record may not be enough. It's up to Manning to lead the Giants in this game, at home. Record 9-7

Final Prediction: The Giants will finish 9-7 and miss the playoffs as a wild card team by 1 game. 

Eli Manning needs to step his game up, and the defense needs to prove to Coach Tom Coughlin that they can compete against the high powered offenses of the Eagles and Cowboys. What do you think of his predicion? Agree? Disagree? Let us know