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Can Giants rise above difficult schedule in 2018?

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Some of the Giants’ best moments have been as underdogs. Will they give us more of those in 2018?

NFL: New York Giants-Minicamp NorthJersey.com-USA TODAY NETWORK

Somehow it always works out that the New York Giants have one of the toughest schedules in the NFL.

A big part of that is that they play in the NFC, and the NFC East at that. There is a definite strength disparity in the NFL between the NFC and AFC, and the NFC East is usually one of the league’s most competitive divisions. Every season the Giants have to play some of the best teams in the league, and their schedule usually features a “murderer’s row” of teams that will test them harshly.

Competitiveness wouldn’t have it any other way, but it is also tough to blame fans for wanting a break. It doesn’t seem as though this will be the year they get it, 3-13 record be damned.

Just looking at the Giants’ 2018 schedule is enough to tell you that it should be tough. The opening gauntlet of the Jacksonville Jaguars, at the Dallas Cowboys, at the Houston Texans, the New Orleans Saints, at the Carolina Panthers, the Philadelphia Eagles, at the Atlanta Falcons, and finally facing the Washington Redskins before their Week 8 bye is daunting to say the least.

The folks at CBS Sports, have created a new metric to evaluate schedule difficulty, and it highlights just how tough the Giants’ schedule could be in 2018.

The Giants’ boast (if you can use that word) the hardest schedule in the NFC East with a difficulty rating of 106.5, per the system used by CBS. To put that in perspective, the Cowboys have the easiest schedule, with a difficulty rating of 96.5, and their schedule would be the second-hardest in the entire AFC.

Here is a bit of what CBS has to say about the Giants:

Roughest stretch: If that Giants haven’t been eliminated from the playoffs by Week 7, that will be a minor miracle. The Giants have one of the most brutal seven-game stretches of the any team in the NFL this year and that starts with their opener against Jacksonville. After that, the Giants have two straight road games in Texas (at Dallas, at Houston) before they get to the meat of their schedule. Starting in Week 4, the Giants will play four straight games against teams that made the playoffs in 2017 (New Orleans, at Carolina, Philadelphia, at Atlanta).

This is a tough start to the season, any way you cut it. It’s fairly easy to predict a 2-5 start to the season, which would all but nix the Giants’ playoff hopes.

Unless, of course, the Giants are a much better team than they showed in 2017.

Any team would struggle to escape that schedule unscathed. If the Giants want to keep their hopes of playing in January alive, they are going to have to prove to be harder than their schedule and better than pretty much everyone thinks they are. Personally, I do tend to think that the Giants were a (much) more talented team than their record indicated in 2017.

If they can survive the first half of their schedule, however, the second half is much more favorable.

Easiest Stretch: ... The Giants won’t really get a break in the schedule until Week 13, when they play the Bears. The game against Chicago will start a very winnable stretch that includes a game at Washington, a home game against Tennessee and a game at Indianapolis. The good news for the Giants is that their most winnable stretch of games comes toward the end of the season, so all they have to do is stay in the playoff hunt until then.

Easier said than done, but do you think the Giants can pull it off? Can they survive the brutal start to their schedule and surprise their doubters?