EAST RUTHERFORD, New Jersey – With the NFC East champion (9-7) New York Giants set to open the NFC Wild Card playoffs against the (10-6) Atlanta Falcons Sunday evening, one player who make have a big impact for the Giants in the post-season is 6’0 tall wide receiver Victor Cruz.
Cruz, a undrafted free-agent out of the University Of Massachusetts, would have a breakout season by catching a team-high 82 passes for 1,536 yards and nine touchdowns. Cruz would average 18.7 yards per catch and his 131 targets is the second most on the team behind wide receiver Hakeem Nicks.
In his last two games against the New York Jets and Dallas Cowboys, Cruz would catch nine passes for 342 yards and two touchdowns, an average of 171 yards, 4.5 catches and a mind-boggling yards per catch average of 42.2.
While Cruz has seemingly emerged overnight as one of the NFL’s premier deep threats in 2011-12 season, he may have a golden opportunity to play an even bigger role in the Giants post-season run due to teams having to play man-to-man on him and Nicks, or risk getting burned by New York’s third receiver Mario Manningham and tight end Jake Ballard.
The Giants—long known for their vaunted defensive line—had the fifth best passing offense during the 2011-12 regular season as they averaged 299.5 yards a game under Super Bowl XLII MVP quarterback Eli Manning’s career-best 4,933 yards passing.
While top-seeded teams in the NFC such as Green Bay, San Francisco and New Orleans may garner the headlines, the Giants due to their pass rush led by Justin Tuck, Osi Umenyiora, Jason Pierre-Paul, Chris Canty and Linval Joseph, an effective running game of Brandon Jacobs and Ahmed Bradshaw and a potent wide receiver corps of Cruz, Nicks and Manningham may be the most dangerous sleeper in the entire NFL playoffs.
The key to New York’s post-season success will be the play of their pass rush and the ability of Manning to get the ball to his top target in Cruz.
In the case of Cruz, if he can continue his torrid regular season play in the playoffs, the Giants may have a real shot in bringing their fourth Super Bowl title back to Gotham.
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