The 2018 NFL schedule is now official, and we now know who the New York Giants will play next year, and when.
For the first time since 2014, and just the second time since 2011, the Giants will not be opening the season on the road against the Dallas Cowboys. Instead, they will be facing the Jacksonville Jaguars, who are being presided over by former Giants’ coach Tom Coughlin.
The NFL didn’t wait long for the Giants’ annual prime time game against the Cowboys, however, scheduling it for Sunday Night Football in week two.
As for right now, the Giants are a team in transition. They might be committed to Eli Manning for now, giving the appearance of stability, but they are undergoing a fundamental shift in philosophy and roster construction as Dave Gettleman, Pat Shurmur — along with Mike Shula — and James Bettcher put their respective stamps on the franchise.
Right now, team itself resembles a house being renovated, with walls knocked down, windows covered by tarps and a dumpster outside. Only the architect, designer, and builders have a clue what it will look like when finished, but to those passing by, it looks like a mess.
That, and the team’s humiliating under-performance in 2017 makes predicting a win-loss record hazardous at best, but that’s what I’m here for.
Week 1, Sept 9
Jacksonville Jaguars, 1 p.m.
Result: Loss - While the team might come out and surprise with their level of play, the Giants’ line is still unsettled and the Jaguars’ defense is ravenous.
Week 2, Sept. 16
At Dallas Cowboys, 8:20 p.m.
Result: Win! The Giants always play the Cowboys hard, and Eli Manning likes playing in the dome in Dallas.
Week 3, Sept. 23
At Houston Texans, 1 p.m.
Result: Win! This game could come down to which quarterback is able to make the last play.
Week 4, Sept. 30
New Orleans Saints, 4:25 p.m.
Result: Loss - The Saints have transformed themselves into a team with a potent running game and a formidable defense. Those travel well and it is still early in the season.
Week 5, Oct. 7
At Carolina Panthers, 1 p.m.
Result: Win! The Panthers struggled to run the ball (the foundation of their offense) when Ryan Kalil was injured in 2017. They could struggle again with the departure of Andrew Norwell. Also, both Gettleman and Shula might be able to provide insight into the team.
Week 6, Oct. 11
Philadelphia Eagles, 8:20 p.m.
Result: Loss - If the Giants haven’t been able to get their offensive line to settle by now, this could be a long night for Eli Manning.
Week 7, Oct. 22
At Atlanta Falcons, 8:15 p.m.
Result: Loss - The Falcons’ offense took a step back moving from Kyle Shanahan to Steve Sarkisian, but with another off-season, they could return to form. If so, the Giants might not be able to keep up in the event of a shootout.
Week 8, Oct. 28
Washington Redskins, 1 p.m.
Result: Win! We do not yet know how Alex Smith will fare in Washington under Jay Gruden. However the Giants were able to interrupt one of the best seasons of his career last year, holding the Kansas City Chiefs to just 9 points, 229 yards passing, and took the ball away three times.
Week 9, Nov. 4
Result: Hopefully a relatively stress-free weekend for us.
Week 10, Nov. 12
At San Francisco 49ers, 8:20 p.m.
Result: Win! This game really could go either way, but the 49ers are still in the process of rebuilding their roster.
Week 11, Nov. 18
Tampa Bay Buccaneers, 1 p.m.
Result: Loss - The Giants narrowly lost this game when the two played last season, and with the team hopefully playing up to its potential, it could easily go the other way. But for now, this is a loss.
Week 12, Nov. 25
At Philadelphia Eagles, 1 p.m.
Result: Loss - It pains me to write this, but the Giants don’t get this one until they prove they can earn it. And besides: Bad and weird things happen in Philly.
Week 13, Dec. 2
Chicago Bears, 1 p.m.
Result: Win! The Bears’ defense should be good with Vic Fangio remaining at the helm, but the team has a new, first-time head coach, and a second-year quarterback under his second head coach. I’m taking Eli Manning’s and Pat Shurmur’s experience here.
Week 14, Dec. 9
At Washington Redskins, 1 p.m.
Result: Win! - For similar reasons as last time.
Week 15, Dec. 16
Tennessee Titans, 1 p.m.
Result: Loss - I’m not sure what to make of the Titans. However, I do believe that Marcus Mariota will finally be able to show his talent for a full season.
Week 16, Dec. 22/23
At Indianapolis Colts, TBD
Result: Win! Eli Manning has good memories in Indy, and we don’t know what kind of QB Andrew Luck will be in 2018. Also, they are once again shifting defensive scheme back to a 4-3 after flirting with a 3-4.
Week 17, Dec. 30
Dallas Cowboys, 1 p.m.
Result: Loss - I would have liked to have ended the season on a high note, but late December in New Jersey could come down to which team can run the ball better, and until they prove otherwise, that probably won’t be the Giants.
Final Record: 8-8
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If the season works out like this (which it probably won’t) the Giants would technically take a step in the right direction. However, considering how badly they under-performed in 2017, this improvement doesn’t really feel satisfying. It’s possible, perhaps even likely, that the team returns to a winning record with a good offensive scheme and a bit of luck (or perhaps less bad luck) with injuries.
But with the roster reconstruction not yet complete and the various schemes still under wraps, it’s impossible to be more optimistic than a .500 record.