It’s that time of year again, the NFL has released its schedule for the coming year.
Thanks to leaks throughout the day, we’ve had a pretty good idea of what the New York Giants 2021 schedule would look like, but now we know for sure. There’s still plenty of time to parse the Giants’ schedule — and likely do so through the lens of their offseason moves — but for now we wanted to offer our simple top-line thoughts on the upcoming slate of games.
Rather than have any one of us offer our thoughts on a game, or a couple games, I thought it would be nice to get several points of view from around the BBV staff. So I posed the question:
“Which ONE (1) game are you most looking forward to in the Giants’ 2021 schedule?”
I’m of the mindset that it’s good to take the season one game at a time which would lead me to say the Broncos in week one at MetLife Stadium. Prognosticating a season where so many variables have changed in a year, and can change throughout the current year, is certainly a difficult task. The Giants played the Steelers in week one and they went on to win eleven games in a row before dropping four of their last five games in 2020 - teams get hot, injuries take hold, and it matters when a team plays a specific opponent.
With all of that stated, I want to look at the week 15 game at MetLife Stadium against the Dallas Cowboys, and the week 18 (sounds strange) game at MetLife Stadium against the Football Team. Those two divisional games should be important matchups that can significantly help the victor in their quest to win the NFC East. If New York can earn victories at home against those division rivals, their two final home games of the season and the only home games in a six week stretch, then the Giants may be on their way to the playoffs for the first time since 2016, and a division title for the first time since 2011 - the last time the Giants won the Super Bowl.
While it’s easy to pick the final game of the season, that’s exactly the game I’m choosing as the one I’m most looking forward to. Based on how the Giants finished last season and how well they did in the offseason, 2021 has a lot of potential for the Giants. They’ll possibly be in a tight race with Washington and Dallas for the NFC East or a Wild Card spot.
The Giants' final game of the season is against The Football Team, a squad they swept last year. They were also the team that snuck into the playoffs out of the NFC East. Washington’s outlook for 2021 isn’t easy to project, but they will be very competitive based on how good their defense last year. This is a team that already had an elite defensive line, and then drafted an elite athlete at linebacker in Jamin Davis.
Regardless of if Washington is even still in the race for the division title or a wild card spot, this game can still define the Giants' season. Like we’ve seen in the past, finishing the season with a huge inter-divisional win could be enough to propel them on a playoff run.
For me this one has to be the Giants’ game against the reigning Super Bowl champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The Giants narrowly lost to the Bucs last year, missing a 2-point conversion at the end of the game to fall 25-23 to Tampa. They caught Tampa Bay just as they were getting hot last year and even managed to jump out to a 14-6 lead at halftime.
The Giants have been racking up moral victories over the last year, giving plenty of “signs” that they are improving, and that game was one of them. But if they want to show that they’re ready for the big time and to really be contenders, they’re going to have to get it done against the best the NFL has to offer. This is an opportunity to go against, arguably, the most complete team in the NFL, boasting an explosive offense, an absolutely suffocating defense, and a veteran coaching staff.
The Tampa defense will give the Giants a chance to really show whether their offense is taking the strides forward it needs to make. Meanwhile, Brady and Bruce Arians were initially frustrated by Patrick Graham’s defense in the first half of their 2020 meeting. Can the Giants prove that they can play the chess game with the best in the NFL? This game could well tell us a lot about where the Giants actually are as a team.
I’m going to give a simple, short answer. Week 1 against the Denver Broncos at MetLife Stadium — with or without Aaron Rodgers quarterbacking the Broncos. There will be fans in the stands, maybe a half-capacity crowd, maybe full. Either way, I just want to sit in the press box and cover a game that feels like a real NFL game.