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End of season review: New York Giants

Sports Mole looks back of the New York Giants' 2013 NFL season.

The New York Giants missed out on a place in the playoffs for the second season in a row with their 7-9 record in the 2013 NFL season.

The team got off to a bad start, losing their opening six games of the season as they tried to top the NFC East for just the second time in five years.

It is the first time in 10 years that the Giants have finished a campaign with a losing record.

Sports Mole looks back at the New York side's 2013 season.

Pre-season expectations:

The Giants' pre-season was dominated by contract talks between the team and wide receiver Victor Cruz. Once Cruz put pen to paper, the franchise seemed optimistic ahead of the start of the season, with Hakeem Nicks also back healthy after a difficult 2012 and running back Andre Brown due back from a broken leg. Meanwhile, Terrell Thomas returned to boost the Giants defense after two seasons out with knee injuries.

Highlight of the year:

The Giants' week 11 success over the Green Bay Packers brought them back into contention in the NFC East, and extended their winning run to four games. The Packers were not at full strength, with quarterback Aaron Rodgers sidelined with a fractured collarbone, but it was still a win over a side that went on to reach the playoffs.

Biggest disappointment:

Although the shutout losses to the Carolina Panthers and Seattle Seahawks were no doubt painful, it was probably the week two defeat to the Denver Broncos that hurt the Giants the most, as quarterback Eli Manning lost to his brother Peyton for the third time in their NFL careers. Having lost narrowly to the Dallas Cowboys in their opening game of the season, a Manning Bowl gave the Giants a chance to silence their doubters, but they were completely outplayed by the eventual Super Bowl runners-up. The defeat seemed to particularly hurt to two-time Super Bowl MVP, who struggled with his accuracy throughout the season.

Player of the season:

While the offense failed to hit its stride for much of the season, the Giants defense remained solid throughout the campaign, led by safety Antrel Rolle, who finished the year with a team-high 98 tackles and six interceptions, as well as two sacks and a forced fumble. With the offense giving away a high number of turnovers, Rolle's contributions helped keep them in contention on more than one occasion.

Unsung hero:

In a talent-heavy defense, defensive tackle Cullen Jenkins did not take a lot of the headlines in 2013, but he was a consistent contributor throughout the campaign, finishing the year with 31 tackles, five sacks and two forced fumbles in his first season with the team. Now that he has had a year to gel with the team, he could have an even bigger impact in 2014.

Off-season changes:

Eli Manning will be working under a new offensive coordinator for the first time since he joined the Giants in 2004, following the retirement of Kevin Gilbride. Former Green Bay Packers quarterbacks coach Ben McAdoo takes over the role. It is expected that Nicks will leave the team as a free agent, while their patchy running game may also need to be boosted before the start of the 2014 campaign.

2014 prospects:

Assuming the Giants can iron out their offensive problems in the off-season, they should be in contention for the NFC East title again next year. Despite their poor start to the year, they ended up just three games behind the Philadelphia Eagles, who claimed the division. Their below-par 2013 campaign has left them in a strong position in the Draft, and theoretically gives them an easier set of fixtures in the coming season, so they could turn it around this year.

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