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Game-By-Game Predictions: How Will Giants Fare This Season?

Let’s look into the crystal ball

NFL: New York Jets at New York Giants Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

“You are what your record says you are.”

At least that’s what former New York Giants’ head coach Bill Parcells says.

After what feels like an eternity since meaningful football was last played, we are finally in game week before the Giants’ first game of the regular season. But will the Giants’ improve in Ben McAdoo’s second year as head coach?

The Giants have a tougher schedule on paper than their 11-win season last year, so improvement according to the Parcells criteria won’t be easy.

Let’s take a look at each game on the Giants’ schedule and make a prediction.

Week 1 - Giants at Dallas Cowboys

The Cowboys will likely be seething over being swept by the Giants the previous season. However, their roster has been hit hard by suspensions and they will likely have the pall of Ezekiel Elliott’s potential suspension hanging over their locker room.

The Giants’ defense has been built to counter the Cowboys’ offense and Dallas’ defense is predicated on their running game’s success. As of this writing there are questions regarding the health of Odell Beckham Jr, but the presence of Sterling Shepard, Brandon Marshall, and Evan Engram should be enough for a dangerous passing game.

Winner - Giants

Record: 1-0

Week 2 - Giants vs. Detroit Lions

If Beckham misses the first week, hopefully he is back and dancing (and playing) this week.

The Lions’ defense looks to be in trouble and the Giants’ offense might just be able to get out to a hot start and find their stride between Dallas and Detroit.

Thanks to a couple of timely turnovers the Giants’ defense was able to largely contain the Lions’ offense last season. They might not be able to hold Detroit to six points again but they should be able to do enough.

Winner - Giants

Record: 2-0

Week 3 - Giants at Philadelphia Eagles

On paper I like the Giants in this game. The Eagles are stout on both sides of the offensive line, but their secondary looks like a definite weakness and we’ll see how well their rebuilt receiving corps functions. Likewise, the Giants ran roughshod over the Eagles last time Eli Manning had a big, strong, physical receiver like Brandon Marshall (ie, Plaxico Burress).

That being said, every year it seems like weird things happen at Lincoln Financial Field. Considering Victor Cruz’s career may well have been ended there with a freak injury on a routine play, I’d say it’s fair to consider that stadium cursed.

Winner - Eagles

Record: 2-1

Week 4 - Giants at Tampa Bay Buccaneers

The Buccaneers could be one of the more complete teams in the NFC, and an interesting mirror for the Giants. Where Tampa added O.J. Howard, the Giants added Evan Engram. While the Giants added the big Brandon Marshall to the smaller Odell Beckham, the Buccs added the small speedster DeSean Jackson to the big Mike Evans.

Also, Jameis Winston is a lot like a young (and older) Eli Manning in that there isn’t a pass that he is afraid to throw. For that I’m going with the Giants on the strength of a cleaner game and the Giants’ opportunistic defense.

Winner - Giants

Record: 3-1

Week 5 - Giants vs. Los Angeles Chargers

The first game of the Giants’ swing through the western divisions, when they will face teams with a plethora of talented pass rushers. Bobby Hart didn’t give up a sack or a pressure in the preseason, but that wasn’t while facing Melvin Ingram and Joey Bosa.

While it’s unlikely that Manning will put any extra pressure on himself, we’re sure to hear all about the (in)famous draft-day trade that landed Manning and Philip Rivers on their respective teams and the fact that Eli has yet to beat the team that drafted him.

This game could well come down to how well the Giants are able to protect Manning and how effective the Chargers are at attacking the middle of the field on offense. The Chargers’ issues on special teams could play a pivotal role in the game’s outcome as well.

Winner - Chargers

Record: 3-2

Week 6 - Giants at Denver Broncos

The Giants’ second game against a western team, they once again face a pair of fearsome edge rushers in Von Miller and Shane Ray backed by an athletic and aggressive defense. It will be interesting to see how the cutting of T.J. Ward affects the remaining players. Everyone knows that the NFL is a business, but he was a well-loved leader on that defense and his departure might leave a void in the locker room.

This could be an ugly game, and im not sure the Giants will be able to overcome the best pass rusher in the NFL (Von Miller) and the Broncos' home-field advantage.

Winner - Broncos

Record: 3-3

Week 7 - Giants vs. Seattle Seahawks

This is one of the Giants’ scheduling wins of the 2017 season — not having to play the Seahawks in Seattle.

The Seahawks lost their left tackle to injury and they recently traded Jermaine Kearse to the New York Jets, taking a chain-mover out of their passing offense. However, the other side of that trade, gaining Sheldon Richardson, could cause problems for a lot of offensive lines.

I don’t think Richard Sherman ever wanted to see Odell Beckham again after their matchup in 2014, but now he has to come to New York, three years older to face an Odell entering his prime. If the Giants can give Eli time and stop Seattle’s running game, they can win this game.

Winner - Giants

Record: 4-3

Week 8 - Bye

Week 9 - Giants vs. Los Angeles Rams

The arrival of Wade Philips should improve the Rams’ defense.

However, their fate rests on the shoulders of head coach Sean McVay and QB Jared Goff. Most of McVay’s moves this year have been to build around Goff, but the question remains whether or not he can make a jump in his second year (with just seven games started in 2016).

Winner - Giants

Record: 5-3

Week 10 - Giants at San Francisco 49ers

Kyle Shanahan was a major factor in the Atlanta Falcons being the most dangerous offense in the league last year. However, he won’t have Matt Ryan, or Julio Jones, with which to work in his first head coaching gig. Instead he will have the familiar but unspectacular Brian Hoyer at quarterback. They are also switching to a more aggressive 4-3 defense and added talent this offseason.

The 49ers aren’t a team to overlook, but they have aggressively reshuffled most of their organization this off-season as they look to rebuild following the messy end to the Jim Harbaugh era.

Winner - Giants

Record: 6-3

Week 11 - Giants vs. Kansas City Chiefs

The Giants’ schedule does them the second of (as it appears now) two favors this year by letting them face the Chiefs in the Meadowlands. As with Seattle, Kansas City is an almost painfully loud stadium.

Alex Smith will be in the familiar position of leading a team while (potentially) looking over his shoulder at an athletic, talented, and highly drafted quarterback. However, he’s dealt with the situation before and should be expected to do so again. Travis Kelce should be expected to give the Giants’ linebackers a headache, but Smith’s reluctance to stretch the field might allow Landon Collins and Darian Thompson to play closer to the line and help out.

Winner - Giants

Record: 7-3

Week 12 - Giants at Washington Redskins

It seems odd that the Giants have to wait until Week 12 to see their third division rival, and will play them again in just five games.

Washington might be a tricky team to figure out. The Redskins have a stout offensive line and Jordan Reed is one of the most dangerous offensive weapons in the league. However, he is often injured and the Redskins seem prone to fissures in the locker room. It’s also worth asking how much Kirk Cousins really wants to be there — the money in Washington great, but his heart might be with Kyle Shanahan in San Francisco.

Winner - Giants

Record: 8-3

Week 13 - Giants at Oakland Raiders

The Raiders have built themselves a scary offense. They have one of the league’s best offensive lines, a pair of talented receivers, and a great young quarterback.

Their defense looks to be Khalil Mack or bust, but Mack just happens to be one of the league’s very best defenders. The biggest question regarding the Raiders is whether or not they will build on a season that saw them win a lot of close games. Will those close games turn into more comfortable wins, or will they regress?

Derek Carr was playing at an MVP level in 2016, I don’t have reason to discount that yet.

Winner - Raiders

Record: 8-4

Week 14 - Giants vs. Cowboys

The Cowboys should have gotten quite a few players back from suspension by this point, but we don’t know what will happen with Ezekiel Elliott. Even if he is out, their running game should still be dangerous.

Will their defense trend upward with the return of suspended players? Will Dak Prescott be as efficient as he was in his rookie year or will the league adapt to him with 30 games on tape?

Regardless, the Giants are built to beat the Cowboys, and that’s where I’m going until I have cause to say differently.

Winner - Giants

Record: 9-4

Week 15 - Giants vs. Eagles

It’s fair to question whether or not Alshon Jeffery will still be healthy for the teams’ second meeting. Even so, I’m predicting the Giants get revenge on Philly and beat them at home.

Winner - Giants

Record: 10-4

Week 16 - Giants at Arizona Cardinals

As of this writing the Cardinals look set for a resurgent offensive season. Granted, a lot of things can happen between now and Christmas Eve, but as of now it looks as though Arizona could be a dangerous team. They also sport an aggressive 3-4 defense, a scheme which has given the Giants’ offense headaches.

Winner - Cardinals

Record: 10-5

Week 17 - Giants vs. Redskins

As I said earlier, It’s tough to know what to make of the Washington offense. Their offensive line should be stout, which means they should have a good running game. However, the Giants are built to counter the offensive lines of the NFC East. At this point the question is whether or not Jordan Reed will be healthy and whether or not cracks have started to appear in their locker room.

Winner - Giants

Final Record: 11-5

The Giants finish 2017 with the same record as 2016, so it doesn’t look like their offseason moves have improved the team any. However, not all records are the same. There are no real “easy” games on the Giants’ schedule and they face a severe rest deficit with regards to their opponents. This is a much harder schedule than what they saw in 2016, so a similar record (or even a step back to a 10-win season) should be seen as a definite improvement.

Whether or not that is good enough for a playoff berth depends on what the rest of the NFC does. The Giants can only control their play.