We've known for some time who the New York Giants will be facing in 2015, but Tuesday night we were finally told the all important when.
What opponents you face and when can have a huge impact on how your season plays out. There is no way of knowing now which teams will get hot, get injured, or when. Likewise, teams are still not finished, and we still have the draft and whatever free agents will become available later this summer.
However, a murderer's row of dangerous opponents can either break your team or give them the momentum to propel them into the playoffs. Likewise, a well-placed bye week or Thursdaynight game can give the players a needed break to get healthier.
So with that in mind, let's take a closer look at the Giants' 2015 schedule.
Giants' 2015 NFL schedule
Week 1: Sunday, Sept. 13 -- at Dallas Cowboys, 8:30 p.m. ET, NBC
Analysis - Unsurprising. Even in a down stretch the Giants are a flagship franchise, and the rivalry between New York and Dallas is one of the best going. These two teams always play each other tough and put on a good show, so of course the NFL would want a game like this to start off the season on the national stage. It also provides a difficult test for Steve Spagnuolo's new defense right off the bat. The Cowboys could also be without defensive end Greg Hardy and still trying to figure out an offense that will be missing DeMarco Murray.
Result - Loss. A tough loss, but the Cowboys should have fewer moving parts to start the season.
Week 2: Sunday, Sept. 20 -- vs. Atlanta Falcons, 1 p.m., FOX
Analysis - The Falcons should be an interesting opponent next year. Their offense should continue to be potent, but their defense could be in the same state as the Giants, as they install a new defense.
Result - Win! Even though the two teams are likely installing a new defense, the Giants just have more talent available. With the addition of Shane Vereen and further comfort in McAdoo's offense, the Giants should be able to hang in a shootout, and stop Atlanta one more time.
Week 3: Thursday, Sept. 24 -- vs. Washington Redskins, 8:25 p.m., CBS, NFL Network
Analysis - This, I think, is the week where the Giants hit their defensive stride. It could happen sooner, because the team now has experience installing a new scheme under the constraints of the new CBA, but think this is the week they start to really click.
Result - Win! The Giants dismantled the Redskins last year, and while I expect them to be more talented, I also expect the Giants to be more talented as well. With Spags and the defense hitting its stride and the offense putting pressure on opposing offenses, the Giants could be start to be very tough.
Week 4: Sunday, Oct. 4 -- at Buffalo Bills, 1 p.m., FOX
Analysis - This is where we find out how good a job the Giants have done finishing off their offensive line. The Bills have one of the most talented defensive fronts out there, and Rex Ryan will be Rex Ryan. They also have a thoroughly talented offense, but lacking a quarterback.
Result - Win! Right now the Bills' starting quarterback is likely Matt Cassel. If this game comes down to who can affect the quarterback and disrupt the opposing offense, I think the Giants should be able to affect Cassel more easily than the Bills can affect Eli Manning. It would be a hard-fought win and could go either way.
Week 5: Sunday, Oct. 11 -- vs. San Francisco 49ers, 8:30 p.m., NBC
Analysis - Ugh... Has anyone had a rougher 2015 so far than San Francisco? They lost their head coach, and their roster basically disintegrated.
Result - Win! At this point, this is almost a win by default. I'd rather it be a hard-fought win, but the 49ers have just lost so much coaching and on-field talent.
Week 6: Monday, Oct. 19 -- at Philadelphia Eagles, 8:30 p.m., ESPN
Analysis - Ed, why are you asking me to analyze a team where even the people who follow them daily have no clue what Chip is doing or the team will look like? I really have now clue how this one could go. But, I'll assume that most of the legion of injury-prone players the Eagles brought in will be mostly healthy at this point.
Result - Loss. I hate predicting losses to Philly or Dallas, but that's what I have to do here. Weird things happen at the Linc, and if their team is still relatively healthy, if weirdness happens, the Eagles should be able to capitalize.
Week 7: Sunday, Oct. 25 -- vs. Dallas Cowboys, 4:25 p.m., FOX
Analysis - At this point the Cowboys should be settled in and likely have Hardy. But the Giants should be settled in as well.
Result - Win! Not only can I not predict a sweep by Dallas, I don't think the Cowboys can deal with a healthy Giants passing attack, and the defense should be in their stride, and no matter how much that offensive line holds, pressure will still get through to Romo.
Week 8: Sunday, Nov. 1 -- at New Orleans Saints, 1 p.m., FOX
Analysis - It looks like the Saints are already rebuilding for life after Brees while Brees is still there. New Orleans has always been a tough place for the Giants to play, but it will be interesting to see how that offense looks without Jimmy Graham.
Result - Win! Even though their offense is changing, I'm still expecting it to be potent. However, they also have a lot of pieces to add to their defense, so this could be something of a shootout.
Week 9: Sunday, Nov. 8 -- at Tampa Bay Buccaneers, 4:05 p.m., FOX
Analysis - This matchup could be sneaky tough. The Bucs have a talented offense and should have a talented defense. If they add Jameis Winston or Marcus Mariota, they could be a very different team from the one that earned the first overall pick.
Result - Win! This is another one that could go either way pretty easily. There's no way of knowing how a rookie QB will play, but the skill set of either of the top QBs could be transformative for the Bucs. However, I'm basing the win on Spags' zone blitz schemes confusing the young QB.
Week 10: Sunday, Nov. 15 -- vs. New England Patriots, 4:25 p.m., CBS
Analysis - Even though the two teams rarely play outside of preseason, this might by my favorite rivalry. Not just because of the Super Bowl wins, either. When these two teams throw down, it is almost always a great game, regardless of circumstances. Despite their losses, I'm expecting Darth Hoodie to have this team running like a well-oiled machine by Week 10.
Result - Loss. I can't pick against the Patriots here. It should be a close game, however. I'm expecting Spags to be able to get Brady off his spot and frustrate that offense, but if the Giants can't slow down Gronk, they are facing a major up-hill battle.
Week 11: Sunday, Nov. 22 -- Bye
Analysis - Nah-nah, nah, nah, nah-nah! Hey hey hey! Good Bye!
Week 12: Sunday, Nov. 29 -- at Washington Redskins, 1 p.m., FOX*
Analysis - Not much has changed since Week 3 here.
Result - Win! Injuries are, of course, the wild card here, but I'm expecting the Giants to be fired up after losing going into their bye week, and reasonably well rested for the stretch run into January.
Week 13: Sunday, Dec. 6 -- vs. New York Jets, 1 p.m., CBS*
Analysis - Three words: Beckham. vs. Revis.
The battle for New York very well could be the game of the year for the Giants, and don't be surprised one bit if it gets flexed into prime time. On the field, I think it plays out something like the Buffalo game. The Jets will blitz and pressure will come.
However as it stands now, they will have either Geno Smith or Ryan Fitzpatrick under center. The winner should be the one who's quarterback can get to their fourth and fifth options and stay effective. Or if OBJ can plant his flag on Revis Island like he did with Richard Sherman.
Result - Win! Once again, Eli weathers the defensive storm better than the opposing quarterback, and the defense stops the opposing offense one more time than they are stopped.
Week 14: Monday, Dec. 14 -- at Miami Dolphins, 8 :30 p.m., 8:30 p.m., ESPN
Analysis - You wouldn't normally think of Miami as being adverse conditions, especially compared to the northeast in December, but for teams used to performing in the cold, heading to South Beach late in the year can be a tough transition. Also, I'm expecting Ryan Tannehill to be a dangerous quarterback this year. He has quietly improved each year and could be on the verge of breaking out. Also, the combination of Suh and Cam Wake is just scary.
Result - Loss. This might look like a trap game, but I think the Dolphins are on the upswing. Tannehill is a solid young quarterback who is maturing nicely. Shane Vereen could be the difference in this game, as Eli will likely have to get the ball out quickly and attack the Dolphins over the middle in two seconds or less.
Week 15: Sunday, Dec. 20 -- vs. Carolina Panthers, 1 p.m., FOX*
Analysis - This is usually the time of year when the Panthers defense has caught fire and is shutting teams down. Both teams should be in dog fights for their divisions at this point. Supposedly Spagnuolo has been studying how to defeat the read option, so this could be the test.
Result - Win! This feels like a game that Odell Beckham takes over while the Giants force the Panthers to be one dimensional.
Week 16: Sunday, Dec. 27 -- at Minnesota Vikings, 1 p.m., FOX*
Analysis - This game could be played in absolutely miserable conditions. Minnesota. In December. Outside. The offensive line has already talked about going sleeveless, but the conditions could force the Giants into a warp-speed quick passing offense just to keep warm. That, or this becomes the Andre Williams Show.
Result - Loss. This one could go either way, but with the Giants throwing the ball at least 60 percent of the time it could be tough for the offense to function here. Also, while I don't believe Teddy Bridgewater quite deserved to win ROY over Odell Beckham, He is still a great young quarterback, and they are assembling some nice talent around him. This should be a sneaky-tough game, and it could come down to whoever has the ball last.
Week 17: Sunday, Jan. 3 -- vs. Philadelphia Eagles, 1 p.m., FOX*
Analysis - This is the point where we find out whether or not Chip Kelly's bet in his system and program pays off. He has ditched his offensive stars and brought in a lot of injury prone players. Will they be healthy? How well will his system function in New York, in January, without DeSean Jackson, Jeremy Maclin, and LeSean McCoy, and with Sam Bradford, Mark Sanchez, or Tim Tebow quarterbacking? This game could decide the NFC East and Chip Kelly's future in Philadelphia
Result - Win! It very hard to assume that all the injury-prone players the Eagles brought in will still be healthy. Their depth at the skill positions are now their starters, and if injuries take their toll like the players' histories say it will, they could well be depleted at this point.
* Game subject to flex scheduling
Final Record: 11-5
Division Record: 4-2
This schedule is an interesting one. I love the placement of the Thursday night game and the bye week. The short week is early, when the Giants are still rested, but their Bye week is well placed to make sure they are rested down the stretch. It will also be interesting to see if Robert Ayers and Victor Cruz start the season on the PUP list, and how that plays into the schedule.