The 2019 NFL Schedule won’t be released until later on tonight (8 p.m. to be precise), but that hasn’t stopped schedules from leaking through various outlets.
Earlier Wednesday we learned that in a stunning move, the New York Giants would be starting their season on the road against the Dallas Cowboys — stunning in that the schedule makers couldn’t come up with something just a tad more original.
Rosters are far from set and we are eight days from the 2019 NFL Draft, but the schedule is in our hands, so why don’t we take a look and guess at how the Giants fare?
Sept 8 - at Dallas Cowboys, 4:25 p.m.
Giants do not start out on the right foot here. They are rebooting their offense after shipping their best player off to Cleveland, while also trying to fit a bevy of new parts together on defense. These things take time and it would be a surprise if they fit together right away.
Also, the Giants’ offense will look to attack the short-middle of the field, right where Dallas is the strongest.
Sept. 15 - vs. Buffalo Bills, 1 p.m.
This one is going to be tough to forecast. Buffalo’s offense was just bad last year, and they will be hoping for significant improvement from Josh Allen in his second year, and for the draft to yield at least one dynamic weapon for them. Cole Beasley was a thorn in the Giants’ side in Dallas and John Brown could exploit Allen’s incredible arm strength, but they need a true number one receiver.
However, Buffalo has also sunk significant resources into rebuilding their offensive line and Josh Allen’s size and mobility make him a tough quarterback to bring down, and the Giants do not yet have a proven pass rusher on their roster. Meanwhile, Buffalo had a good run defense and the league’s best pass defense in 2018.
If the Giants’ offense doesn’t come to play, this one could get ugly, but for now I’ll forecast a narrow win.
Sept. 22 - at Tampa Bay Buccaneers, 4:05 p.m.
The Bucs will probably be all about the YOLO throws with Bruce Arians calling the plays for Jameis Winston. However, Arians knows how to build a team that will surprise you, and Winston is a good fit for his offense. The Giants are putting a lot of faith in Janoris Jenkins, Sam Beal, and Antoine Bethea, and this game will test them.
Right now this game looks like another coin flip. Last year the Giants were only able to consistently win games when the other offense handed them the ball. If Arians and Winston turn out to be turnover-prone, the Giants might pull this one out.
Sept. 29 - vs. Washington Redskins, 1 p.m.
September ends with Landon Collins making his return to MetLife Stadium. Will the Giants be right about him, or will he play up to the historic standards he set in 2016? More importantly, who will be playing quarterback for Washington?
Last year a more talented Giants’ defense made Josh Johnson look like 2011-vintage Eli Manning after feasting on Mark Sanchez for a half of football. Right now its difficult to see the Giants getting through Washington’s offensive line and easy to see Collins playing with a chip on his shoulder.
Oct. 6 - vs. Minnesota Vikings, 1 p.m.
Right now it looks like the Vikings simply out-class the Giants on both sides of the ball. They will also be getting input from Gary Kubiak on offense, which could make both Kirk Cousins and Dalvin Cook much more dangerous.
Oct. 10 (Thursday night) - at New England Patriots, 8:20 p.m.
What will the Patriots be without Rob Gronkowski?
Still good, and probably better than the Giants.
Oct. 20 - vs. Arizona Cardinals, 1 p.m.
Here we are at another coin-flip game. What will the Cardinals even look like come September?
They had the worst offense in the NFL last year, but with Kliff Kingsbury calling the shots that could (should) change. It could be radically different if the Cards draft Kyler Murray. If so, the Giants simply might not have the speed on defense to account for him, and that will only make David Johnson that much more dangerous. On defense, they are returning to a scheme that better fits their talent, and Chandler Jones could be a big problem for the Giants.
Still, since the last coin flip came up tails, this one will come up “Giants”.
Oct. 27 - at Detroit Lions, 1 p.m.
The Giants will see a lot of familiar faces when they travel to Detroit, with Damon Harrison, Devon Kennard, Romeo Okwara, and Andrew Adams are all on the Lions’ defense and playing well under Matt Patricia. Harrison, Kennard, and Okwara combined for 18 sacks and three forced fumbles, while rookie lineman DaShawn Hand added three more sacks and two forced fumbles of his own.
This one looks like it could be a tough one for the Giants, and after last season they don’t get the benefit of the doubt when it comes to tough ones.
Nov. 4 (Monday night) - vs. Dallas Cowboys, 8:15 p.m.
The Giants are going to have to prove to me that they can win important games against higher level teams before I give a game like this to them. The Giants usually play the Cowboys hard, but I can’t predict they’ll come out on top.
Nov. 10 - at NEW YORK JETS, 1 p.m.
This is one of those years when the Snoopy Bowl will mean something.
The Jets went on a major spending spree this off-season, getting Sam Darnold a serious upgrade in firepower in Le’Veon Bell, as well as a dependable slot receiver in Jamison Crowder. The Jets also added linebacker C.J. Mosley in front of Jamal Adams. They could find themselves with one of the best defensive players in a loaded defensive draft, or haul of picks if another team trades up. Either way they look like a team on the rise.
Nov. 17 - BYE
A much-needed break before the stretch run to the end of the season.
Nov. 24 - at Chicago Bears, 1 p.m.
The Giants probably aren’t going to luck out and face Chase Daniel and a Bears’ defense without Khalil Mack. The Giants only just barely managed to beat the Bears by the skin of their teeth in overtime without their teeth last year — and that with the Bears missing their best player and starting quarterback.
Dec. 1 - vs. Green Bay Packers, 1 p.m.
The Packers had the free agency period the Giants wished they had, signing EDGEs Preston Smith and Za’Darius Smith, safety Adrian Amos, and Billy Turner to add to their offensive line. Oh, and they still have Aaron Rodgers.
The Packers will look different after firing Mike McCarthy and hiring Matt LeFleur to be their new head coach. We don’t know what they will look like under LeFleur, but he learned offense under Kyle Shanahan and Sean McVay, and if his offense looks anything like theirs, Rodgers could be very scary.
Dec. 9 (Monday night) - at Philadelphia Eagles, 8:15 p.m.
The Giants’ first meeting of the year with the Eagles will be in primetime at the Lincoln Financial Center.
Need I say more?
Something bad and weird will happen, and the Giants will lose.
Dec. 15 - vs. Miami Dolphins, 1 p.m.
The Dolphins are one of the few teams with a roster even more depleted than the Giants.
This game could go either way, but if neither team selects a quarterback in next week’s draft, this game could be for the right to have their pick of the 2020 quarterback class. So, the Giants being the Giants, will probably come up with a win here.
Dec. 22 - at Washington Redskins, 1 p.m.
I don’t expect the chip on Collins’ shoulder to still be there, but by this point it might not matter.
The Giants might claw out a win as they so often do late in the season against Washington, but I’m still in “Show Me” mode
Dec. 29 - vs. Philadelphia Eagles, 1 p.m.
The Giants end the season at home against the Eagles, but as I said before, I can’t predict they’ll win until they show me that they can compete with the better teams in the league.
Season Record: 4-12
The offseason is the season of hope, but we need to be realistic about the state of the Giants’ roster. They have hemorrhaged talent since carrying an 11-5 record into the 2017 season two years ago and have added precious little at high-leverage positions to replace it.
Unless Pat Shurmur and Mike Shula do something truly innovative and much more aggressive than what they showed in 2018, their offense is in danger of being one-dimensional and easily suffocated by simple defensive schemes. The Giants’ defense is being held together by bubblegum and the hope that a series of “maybes” and “ifs” will pan out.
The good news is that we are still a LONG way from September. The landscape of the NFL could, and likely will, shift between now and then, and we will probably make more predictions after the draft and then a final one before the start of the season. We’ll see then what kind of improvements the Giants made in 2019.