Monday, April 27, 2015

NFL Preview: NY Giants Schedule

Coming off last year’s 6-10 season, the NY Giants face a #3 schedule.  They play the other teams from the NFC East twice, the AFC East, the NFC South, and 2014’s #3 teams from each of the other conferences.  

The NY Giants logo is simple
but iconic.
Of course, it’s always hard to predict what’s going to happen in the NFL, and that’s doubly true of the Giants, a team that has twice snuck into the playoffs in recent memory, only to then turn around and win the Super Bowl.  However, with Victor Cruz coming back, Odell Beckham Jr looking like a world-beating wide receiver, and the offense in general into its second year under OC Ben McAdoo, this is a team with a chance to do well.  There are still important issues on the offensive line—Eli Manning is not the kind of quarterback who thrives when he’s running for his life—and the Giants need to find a way to reinvigorate their pass rush, but on its face 2015 looks good.  It helps that the level of competition in the NFC East is liable to be weaker this year given that the Washington Redskins are in total disarray and that the Philadelphia Eagles currently have Sam Bradford, Mark Sanchez, and Tim Tebow as their would-be quarterbacks.

Now that it’s out, let’s look at the schedule.

Week 1: @ Cowboys
The opener is in Dallas on prime time.  I don’t know what’s going on in Dallas right now, but I’d be willing to be that it involves some flashy signings and more than a few veteran free agents.  Oftentimes this is the recipe for a fast start and a slow finish due to injuries.  We’ve seen that from Dallas in the past.  Moreover, Dallas has owned the Giants at home for the last few seasons.

This is a game that the Giants could win, but for expedience, we’ll predict a loss and an eventual split with America’s Team.

Record: 0-1

Eli Manning, courtesy of Wikipedia.
Week 2: Falcons
The home opener is week 2 against a team that will have a head coach in only his second start.  Atlanta has a ton of playmakers, but they sure didn’t do much last year, hence the new coach.  Atlanta could be good, but they hired Seattle’s former defensive coordinator, and I’m gonna guess it takes him more than two weeks to turn this particular defense around.  With that in mind, I’m calling this one for the G-Men.

Record: 1-1

Week 3: Redskins
The Redskins suck.  I want to believe in RG3, but I just don’t, and I hate it for Washington fans because I know from living in that town what a rabid fanbase the ‘Skins have.

Record: 2-1

Week 4: @ Bills
Intriguing game.  The Bills were actually good last year, and they now have Rex Ryan, a guy who is sure to get a lot out of their defense.  I never believed that Rex was the problem with the Jets, but…  Here he is, and we still have no idea who’s going to quarterback the Bills.  That is a serious problem.  I’m therefore giving this one to the Giants, but boy, it could go another way in a hurry.

Record: 3-1

Week 5: 49ers
The 49ers are good, right?  Wrong!  

They were good.  Then they fired their coach, and since that happened, several of their key players have retired.  Plus, there’s enough tape out on Colin Kaepernick now that I think defenses know how to prepare for his particular game.  Kaepernick reminds me a lot of Vince Young, honestly, and I don’t mean that as an insult.  Young had an excellent record as a starter, he was just limited.  Keapernick is a better player—probably—but he’s still not the pocket passer that he needs to be to have long term success in the NFL.  With everything else going on, I’m gonna say that the Giants win this one.

Record: 4-1

Week 6: @ Eagles
If Bradford is healthy and playing well, this is a tough game.  Based on his injury history, though, that’s kind of a longshot.  The Eagles have bet the house on a guy who’s had a hard time staying on the field.  Still, this is an early season game, and I don’t want to be ridiculous.  We’ll say Bradford’s not hurt yet, but we could just as easily predict a win for the Giants and a loss to either the Bills or the 49ers.  

If I say that the Giants win two of these three, that seems reasonable.  Right?

Record: 4-2

Week 7: Cowboys
I stipulated a split with the Cowboys earlier.  Let’s say instead that the Giants win either this game or the previous one.  Dallas could be very good, but I doubt they’re very good in the same year that Sam Bradford stays healthy for 16 games.  Too many things have to happen simultaneously for me to buy into that.

Record: 5-2

Week 8: @ Saints
The Saints are in a similar place to the Eagles.  They’ve made some questionable moves, but it’s a team with proven talent, too.  New Orleans is also tough place to play.  Maybe the Giants win here, but I’m not counting on it.

Record: 5-3

Week 9: @ Buccaneers
The Bucs are terrible.  At times they’ve looked good, but those times are few and far between.  They’re picking number one right now, and they’re almost certainly going to take Jameis Winston.  Not a bad plan long term, but it’s tough to start a rookie quarterback 16 games in the NFL.

Record: 6-3

Week 10: Patriots
The Giants only ever beat the Pats in the Super Bowl.

Record: 6-4

Week 11: Bye
Ross Tucker says that you can tell what the NFL thinks of your team by where they put your bye week.  The Giants have a late bye week, which means that the NFL is expecting them to do well this season.  Clearly, so am I.

Week 12: @ Redskins
The ‘Skins still suck, but by now RG3 has been benched.  It’s ugly in Washington—again.

Record: 7-4

Week 13: Jets
Are the Jets still starting Geno Smith?  Then the Giants win this game, probably 45-3.  It’s been a while since this series has been competitive.

Record: 8-4

Week 14: @ Dolphins
The Dolphins have out-performed recently.  They could easily win this game.  Let’s assume they do.

Record: 8-5

Week 15: Panthers
The Panthers managed to get to the playoffs last year—with a losing record.  I don’t know that I believe they’ll be better this year, and I think the Giants would have beaten them at the end of last year.  Meanwhile, the Giants will certainly be better.

Record: 9-5

Week 16: @ Vikings
As of this writing, the Vikings are a team in turmoil.  Adrian Petersen says he wants out, and I think that matters.  If he and the Vikes make up, and if Teddy Bridgewater plays as well as he’s capable, this is a very tough game.

Let’s look at it another way.  In a three game stretch, the Giants need to beat either the Dolphins or the Panthers or the Vikings.  I’m saying that they will probably beat the Panthers at home, but that’s obviously only one of several possibilities.

Record: 9-6

Week 17: Eagles
The Giants play the Eagles at home with a playoff spot on the line.  By now, there is no way Sam Bradford is in the game, but if God really loves the Giants, Tim Tebow will be under center.

Record: 10-6
2012.  It's been too long.
So.  This is a make-or-break year for Giants’ HC Tom Coughlin.  Given the schedule, that’s totally appropriate.  The Giants have every chance to do well.  If the wheels come off again this year, it will definitely be time to go another direction.  I’m hoping for more of the same direction and a return to the post-season.

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