The Star-Ledger-USA TODAY Sports
A quick look at each of the Giants' opponents in 2013 and what the Giants will have to do to win those games.
The New York Giants ended their run to defend their Super Bowl title earlier than expected by finishing the 2012 regular season 9-7 and missing the playoffs. They started the season 6-2 and fell into their inconsistent ways, but this time they were not able to make a run in the end to stay alive as they did the year before. Here is a look at the teams the Giants will face in 2013.
Obviously the Giants will be facing their division opponents twice, once home and once on the road. In 2012 the Giants went 3-3 against NFC East opponents.
Washington Redsksins (10-6)
The Giants split their series with the Redskins in 2012, winning the first one at home and losing the second at FedEx Field. The win at home didn't come easy, either, needing some fourth-quarter magic from Eli Manning. Manning found Victor Cruz in the slot in the final two minutes for the game-winning touchdown. The 17-16 loss in Washington, however, was frustrating as the Giants had more possession of the ball than the Redskins and managed to lose by one point. What went wrong?
For starters the Giants run defense was poor throughout the year, and with the explosiveness of Alfred Morris and Robert Griffin III's ability to run, they undoubtedly struggled against Washington. The Giants offense also did not seem to take advantage of the Redskins' corners, even after Cruz had caught some big passes. Was it to try and keep the ball out of RGIII's hands? Who knows?
Right now there is uncertainty surrounding Griffin. Early estimates indicate a 6-8 month recovery from the major knee surgery he underwent Wednesday, but that really is an unknown. Even without RGIII, the Giants would have to worry about Morris. An improved run defense is a must in these two games.
Dallas Cowboys (8-8)
The Giants and Cowboys met early in the 2012 season as opposed to the final few weeks of the 2011 season. The Giants swept the Cowboys in 2011, however, they split their series in 2012. What's funny is even though the Giants got one of the wins, it seemed like the Cowboys outplayed them in both games.
In Week 1 the Giants were hoping to "build their bridge" from the Super Bowl to the regular season, but unfortunately they looked like they needed more practice. The Cowboys defeated the Giants 24-17 with Tony Romo throwing for 307 yards and three touchdowns. Kevin Ogletree was a nightmare for the Giants when Romo couldn't get a rhythm going with Miles Austin, Dez Bryant, and an injured Jason Witten. When the teams met again Week 7, the Giants got off to a fast start, but let Romo and Witten lead the Cowboys back in the game. Despite Romo throwing four interceptions, he threw 437 yards and a touchdown, and even rushed a touchdown himself. The Cowboys lost that game by, literally, a couple of fingertips when Bryant came down with the ball in the back of the end zone and his fingers touched out of bounds.
The Giants struggled against the Cowboys for a few reasons. First, the Cowboys defense is solid and the corners did a good job of covering the receivers, including Cruz who couldn't seem to make catches in either game. Defensively, the Giants always seemed to allow Romo to make the big play. They can stop him on all of the smaller plays, but Romo has a quick release and when he needs to on third down he'll find a way to get that big play off. In 2013 the pass rush needs to get to Romo and make him run for his life as they did in 2011. Force him to make bad throws. If they Giants have to face a healthy DeMarco Murray, then the run defense will also need to be at its best.
Philadelphia Eagles (4-12)
Despite the Eagles' struggles that eventually led to the firing of head coach Andy Reid, the Giants still managed to lose their first meeting with Philadelphia. The Giants lost Week 4 19-17 in Philadelphia due to some costly mistakes in the final minute which led to an offensive pass interference on Ramses Barden forcing Lawrence Tynes to kick a field goal from more than 50 yards and missing it by two. Tom Coughlin hoped it wouldn't be a game that would "bite us in the butt." Eventually, though, it did. The Giants handled their second meeting with the Eagles easily giving them a 42-7 beating.
It's hard to really say what the Giants need to do to avoid their issues with the Eagles in 2013 because they're likely going through a lot of changes. Rumors say they're planning to part ways with quarterback Michael Vick, and they still don't have a head coach.
Here are some quick looks at the non-division opponents the Giants will face in 2013 at home and away.
Denver Broncos (13-3)
The Manning Bowl is coming to the Meadowlands in 2013, and we all know it will likely be prime time and early in the season. The Manning brothers last faced off three years ago in Indianapolis, and the Giants took quite a beating. Since it is Peyton Manning, the Giants will need to have their pass rush at its best. It won't be an easy game because even if Eli is at his best, there's no way Peyton is going to just let his little brother walk on the field and beat him. Defense will have to play a huge factor if they want to beat the Broncos.
Green Bay Packers (11-5)
When the Giants and Packers meet, it's usually a good game. In 2012 the Packers came to the Meadowlands hoping for revenge from the previous playoff game they lost to the Giants, but instead were reminded why the Giants won Super Bowl XLVI, beating the Packers 38-10. Since the Giants do tend to be inconsistent, they can never take the Packers lightly. The pass rush looked great in their last meeting with the Packers, only giving up one big play which was a 61-yard touchdown to Jordy Nelson. They took the comfort zone away from Aaron Rodgers and had him running for his life. It should be a good game, but not an easy one as the Packers won't want to lose to the Giants for a third time in a row.
Seattle Seahawks (11-5)
The Giants last faced the Seahawks in 2011 and suffered a disappointing loss at home. Unfortunately, that was a much weaker Seahawks team. The Seahawks ended the 2012 season with one of the best defenses in the league, and the surprising success of rookie quarterback Russell Wilson, who led the team to an 11-5 season and are facing the Atlanta Falcons in the divisional playoff round this weekend. They are a whole different animal than what the Giants saw in 2011. The Seahawks secondary has been their strong suit in defense, so the Giants will really have to rely on their receivers being healthy, especially Hakeem Nicks.
Minnesota Vikings (10-6)
Judging by the way Adrian Peterson came back after his ACL surgery, the Giants will really need to improve their run defense to handle Minnesota. Peterson ended the 2012 season just nine yards shy of breaking Eric Dickerson's single-season record. The run defense needs to keep Peterson from making those big runs and force Christian Ponder to throw.
Oakland Raiders (4-12)
The last time the Giants faced the Raiders, Manning took the rest of the game off and gave David Carr some significant playing time. If all goes well and according to play, Carr will get some playing time again (assuming he's still a Giant). Four years later, and the Raiders are pretty much the same team. If the Giants can't beat this team then there will be a big problem.
Chicago Bears (10-6)
Any game against the Bears always depends on Jay Cutler. Which Cutler will show up to the game? One week he looks like a top ten quarterback and then the next week he looks like he's playing his first high school game. Even if the not-so-great Cutler shows up, the Giants will have to be aware of Brandon Marshall and Matt Forte. Forte tends to be injured, but given how poor the rush defense was in 2012 he could easily have a big game. Brandon Marshall was one of the better wide receivers, finishing third in the NFL in receiving yards with 1,508. Marshall also scored 11 touchdowns. The Giants defense will be key to winning this game.
San Diego Chargers (7-9)
Things have not gone well for the Chargers the last few seasons and resulted into the firing of Norv Turner. Philip Rivers was very inconsistent throughout the year and finished the season 17th in passing yards with 3,606. If the defense plays as well as they should be playing, then they should handle Rivers just fine. In 2012 the Chargers defense gave up 326 yards per game, so the Giants offense will play a big role in getting the job done.
Carolina Panthers (7-9)
The Giants had one of their better games against the Panthers in 2012 giving them a 36-7 beating. Andre Brown had the breakout game if his career rushing for 113 yards and two touchdowns. Manning also had a great game completing 77 percent of his passes for 288 yards and a touchdown. The Panthers didn't have much of a defense and the Giants kept Cam Newton from running around the field. If they approach the Panthers with a similar game plan, they should be fine.
Detroit Lions (4-12)
Possible Thanksgiving game? The Giants had their last Thanksgiving game four years ago against Denver. Two basic things need to happen: The pass rush needs to keep Matthew Stafford from throwing to Calvin Johnson all day and the offensive line need to protect Manning from Ndamukong Suh, who tends to take his frustrations out on quaterbacks ... just ask Matt Schaub.
Kansas City Chiefs (2-14)
The Chiefs had a dreadful 2012 season, one they would like to forget. They are awarded the number one overall pick and currently do not have a head coach. The only real threat from the current Chiefs roster is Jamaal Charles. Despite the team's struggles, Charles finished fourth in the NFL with 1,509 rushing yards. His longest run was 91 yards and he had two other games where he ran a single carry for 80 or more yards. The run defense will have to get a good game plan for Charles, otherwise they should handle the Chiefs fine.
When the schedules break in a few months and we have a better idea of what the rosters will look like, we will have a more in depth look at the 2013 opponents. For now, this is who the Giants face and what each of those teams brought in 2012.
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