The Giants are kicking off the season Monday night knowing their worst possible outcome was a tie in the standings with the Eagles and Cowboys.
The two favorites to win the NFC East lost in Week 1 and issued a reminder that one of the weakest divisions in the league is available for the taking – a point Nate Burleson has been repeating as co-host of NFL Network’s “Good Morning Football.” (Washington beat the Eagles but isn’t formidable just yet.)
“Is it absurd for me to say the mindset for the Giants should be to take the division?” Burleson told The Post. “When did we get lost in ‘The Giants are rebuilding?’ They weren’t good last year, but they are not rebuilding. There is a huge difference.”
The primary source of optimism for Burleson, who played 11 seasons as a receiver, is the offensive firepower.
“I used to say that the team with the best technology is going to win,” Burleson said. “By technology, I just mean the players. They are high-tech. Look at all the high IQ and artificial intelligence that Daniel Jones has.”
The Giants played all last season without having Saquon Barkley, Sterling Shepard, Golden Tate, Evan Engram and Darius Slayton available in the same game. Barkley, Tate and Engram never played a snap together. That was expected to change for Jones in the first quarter against the Steelers but Tate (hamstring) was ruled inactive before kickoff.
“He is going to have all his receivers and tight ends at his disposal. Check! Shored up the offensive line. Check! New head coach, very disciplined. Check!” Burleson said before the Tate news and diving into the new play-calling offensive coordinator.
“You know Jason Garrett wants to prove to everybody he’s no slouch: You can call me ‘The Clapper’ because I kept it even-keel and was cheering on my team on the sideline, but I can call some games if you let me prove my worth. Check!”
The biggest beneficiary of Garrett’s hire could be Barkley, who could become an Ezekiel Elliott-like 350-touch workhorse.
“If you want an all-around super-talent, take Saquon Barkley,” Burleson said. “But I’ve seen Saquon bail out this team too many times in his career and he’s just getting started. There were times I was watching the Giants and I was like, ‘I see run left, run right, screen left, screen right.’ Saquon was used as a crutch.”
Seeing five quarterbacks finish among the NFL’s top 27 rushers (all with 45 yards or more) Sunday was proof the Giants could squeeze more from Jones by using his mobility.
Jones also could grow from the confidence as the unquestioned starter, no longer having to worry about overstepping on legend Eli Manning.
“I know they say everybody prepares like they are going to start,” Burleson said. “That’s a crock. You don’t get the same opportunities so you prepare as a backup. When you are a backup, you are like a sophomore in high school. You are cool around your friends and the scout team. People kind of know you. When you are the starter, you are the senior with the letterman jacket. That’s a whole different energy.”
After the last three years, the Giants need as many differences as possible.