The 2023 NFL schedule released Thursday evening is a challenging one for the New York Giants. The strength of schedule looks to be greater than it was in 2022, with the tough AFC East replacing the weak AFC South and a trip to San Francisco. Most notably, though, the schedule makers have the Giants on the road for 7 of their first 10 games.
November is particularly brutal, with three consecutive road games including their second western trip of the season. For people like me who prefer for the Giants to play at 1 p.m. ET so we can get the stress out of the way and enjoy the rest of our Sunday, the news is bad. The Giants only have seven early games, while they will be in prime time five times plus a game on Christmas Day.
Will the Giants be able to improve on last year’s 9-7-1 regular season record? If last season taught us anything, it’s that prediction is a fool’s game. If you had the Giants getting out of the gate 6-1 with victories over Tennessee, Green Bay, and Baltimore, you’re better than me. But what better things do NFL fans have to do in May? Let’s guess...er, analyze how the Giants will do in each game.
Week 1 (Sunday, Sept. 10) — vs. Dallas Cowboys (SNF) (Win, 1-0)
The Giants have had a tough time with Dallas since Dak Prescott became their quarterback, not defeating him since 2016. The Giants generally play the Cowboys tough at home, though. Last year the Cowboys’ pass rush overwhelmed the Giants’ offensive line in the game at MetLife and Daniel Jones was hit often and hard.
This year Evan Neal is ready for the speed of DeMarcus Lawrence and Micah Parsons and finds a way to neutralize them. John Michael Schmitz has some good and bad moments in his first game but opens up enough holes to get Saquon Barkley to the second level and the Giants control the clock. The Cowboys’ linebackers are no match for Darren Waller, who scores his first touchdown as a Giant. Dallas’ secondary, with the addition of Stephon Gilmore, limits the Giants’ passing game, but the Giants’ secondary, bolstered by Tae Banks, does the same to Dallas’ trio of CeeDee Lamb, Michael Gallup, and Brandin Cooks. The Giants win a low scoring affair with a 50-yard field goal by Graham Gano in the final minute.
Week 2 (Sunday, Sept. 17) — at Arizona Cardinals (Win, 2-0)
This shapes up as possibly the Giants’ easiest game of the season. The Cardinals are in rebuilding mode with a new head coach. Kyler Murray is recovering from an ACL tear and he may not be back by September or limited if he is. If he doesn’t start the Giants will face old friend Colt McCoy.
The Cardinals drafted guard Paris Johnson Jr. but their offensive line is still weak. Wink Martindale dials up a heavy dose of stunts to confuse Will Hernandez, and the Giants’ pass rush gets home early and often as Azeez Ojulari shows little brother BJ how it’s done.
The Giants’ offense runs early and often on a weak Cards’ defensive line, with Eric Gray seeing his first significant action. Jalin Hyatt and Parris Campbell have their first big games as Giants and Daniel Jones passes for over 300 yards as the Giants win going away.
Week 3 (Thursday, Sept. 21) — at San Francisco 49ers (Loss, 2-1)
The Giants remain in Arizona to save a cross-country trip as they prepare for the 49ers. Trey Lance has not yet had a season-ending injury and has temporarily won the starting job while Brock Purdy recovers from surgery. A Wink Martindale defense is too much for him to process, though, as pass rushers are sprung free early and often. Tae Banks gets his first interception, and the Giants hold San Francisco to ten points, giving up only a touchdown to George Kittle, who beats a Giants linebacker not named Bobby Okereke.
Unfortunately the Giants’ offensive line is no match for the 49ers pass rush and interior run defense. Daniel Jones is sacked five times and intercepted for the first time this year and the Niners win a physical game, 10-7.
Week 4 (Monday, Oct. 2) — vs. Seattle Seahawks (MNF) (Loss, 2-2)
The Giants seek revenge for last season’s loss at Seattle. But DK Metcalf, Tyler Lockett, and new arrival Jaxon Smith-Njigba get open often enough for Geno Smith to hit a few long passes for scores. Meanwhile Tariq Woolen and rookie Devon Witherspoon play the Giants’ small-ish receivers physically and limit the damage they can do. Only Isaiah Hodgins is able to match their physicality as he scores his first two touchdowns of the season.
This is a back-and-forth affair, but the Seahawks mount a drive late to get into position for the winning field goal and the Giants go down to their second straight defeat.
Week 5 (Sunday, Oct. 8) — at Miami Dolphins (Loss, 2-3)
The Giants’ pass rush feasts on an inferior Dolphins’ offensive line and puts constant pressure on Tua Tagovailoa, allowing the Giants to jump out to a first half lead on scores by Barkley and Waller.
In the heat and humidity, though, the defense wilts in the fourth quarter. Tua has time to throw, and Banks finds out that Tyreek Hill is the one NFL receiver he can’t keep up with as Miami wins going away.
Week 6 (Sunday, Oct. 15) — at Buffalo Bills (SNF) (Loss, 2-4)
The Giants are on the road for the fourth time in five weeks, and it is beginning to take a toll. The defense puts pressure on Josh Allen, but his mobility allows him to keep plays alive and the Bills’ offense moves at will against a tired Giants’ defense and puts up three scores in the first half.
Daniel Jones has difficulty passing against a stingy Bills secondary, so the Giants go to the running game with some success, keeping the defense off the field as much as possible. By the fourth quarter the Giants have pulled within a field goal, but Allen leads a clinching touchdown drive and the Giants fall to their fourth consecutive loss.
Giants Twitter calls for Daboll to be fired and Jones to be traded.
Week 7 (Sunday, Oct. 22) — vs. Washington Commanders (Win, 3-4)
Finally home, and there is no team Daniel Jones like to see more than the Commanders. Chase Young has returned to form, and Washington’s front four is among the best in the NFL. But the Giants’ offensive line has been maturing and is able to largely neutralize them. Waller feasts on the Commanders’ mediocre second level of defense and has a 100-yard game with two touchdowns. Barkley is able to run behind Schmitz and pick up big chunks of yardage. Darius Slayton catches his first touchdown pass of the season.
Meanwhile, Sam Howell has been better than expected, but Dexter Lawrence attacks the weak middle of Washington’s OL and consistently flushes Howell from the pocket, where Kayvon Thibodeaux is waiting to collect the sack. Howell puts up some ill-advised passes, one of which is intercepted by Bobby McCain. The Giants run up the score in breaking their four-game losing streak. Nick Gates gets into a fight with A’Shawn Robinson as the game gets out of hand.
Week 8 (Sunday, Oct. 29) — vs. New York Jets (Win, 4-4)
Like the Giants, the Jets have gotten off to an inconsistent start as Aaron Rodgers adjusts to a new team. This is a hard-fought game between two teams trying to climb back into their division races. Neither team has much luck passing against the other’s secondary, and the game becomes a battle of tight ends and running backs against the opposing defenses.
Daniel Bellinger and Darren Waller are the Giants’ main offensive weapons in this game, while the Jets counter with touchdowns from Breece Hall and Izzy Abanikanda to match them. The Giants drive for a field goal to take the lead in the final two minutes, and Aaron Rodgers is intercepted by Xavier McKinney to give the Giants the victory.
Week 9 (Sunday, Nov. 5) — at Las Vegas Raiders (Win, 5-4)
The Giants’ defense dominates this game, harrassing Jimmy Garoppolo into two interceptions. The Giants’ offense begins the game conservatively, emphasizing the run to neutralize the pass rush of Maxx Crosby and Chandler Jones.
Eventually the Giants start to send Jalin Hyatt on deep routes, opening up the middle for short crossing routes. Wan’Dale Robinson is back from his ACL injury and breaks out, using the space underneath created by Hyatt’s routes to roam free underneath. Banks shuts down Davante Adams. Waller catches 6 passes for 100 yards and a score in his return to Las Vegas and the Giants coast to victory.
Week 10 (Sunday, Nov. 12) — at Dallas Cowboys (Loss, 5-5)
Like the first meeting, this is another hard-fought game. The Giants’ offense has improved since their first meeting with Dallas, but the Cowboys’ offense has, too, as Mike McCarthy has adjusted to calling plays again.
Both defenses are stingy, and this becomes a game of big plays. Hyatt beats Trevon Diggs for a 50-yard touchdown reception, but Lamb does the same to Aaron Robinson. In the end, the Cowboys march down the field behind Tony Pollard’s rushes to get into field goal position and the Cowboys win the game.
Week 11 (Sunday, Nov. 19) — at Washington Commanders (Win, 6-5)
Howell has settled in as starter and has a much better passing game than in the teams’ first meeting, hitting Terry McLaurin and Jahan Dotson for scores against Adoree’ Jackson and Banks.
But the Giants’ offense is rolling too. Daniel Jones repeatedly gets big chunks of yardage on zone reads, Waller has a big game against Washington’s linebackers, and Bobby Okereke stifles Washington’s running game enough to allow the Giants to trade blows with Washington and prevail in a close game.
Week 12 (Sunday, Nov. 26) — vs. New England Patriots (Win, 7-5)
This game is a defensive struggle. The Jones brothers and Christian Gonzalez make life difficult for the Giants’ wide receivers and Matt Judon and Josh Uche provide more pass rush than the Giants have seen this season. The Giants fall back to a conservative offense with Barkley and Gray sharing the rushing load and Waller and Bellinger accounting for the bulk of the passing yards.
The game is won by the Giants’ defense. Leonard Williams and Dexter Lawrence clog the middle, with help from Rakeem Nunez-Roches and A’Shawn Robinson. Darrian Beavers sees his first extensive action and is sprung on several pass rushes to harass Mac Jones, while he and Okereke keep Hunter Henry and Mike Gesicki in check. Adoree’ Jackson and Banks blanket the Patriots’ receivers and make them non-factors. The Giants win a close one.
Week 13 — BYE
Brian Daboll posts two armed guards at the door to McKinney’s house to make sure he doesn’t go for any ATV rides.
Week 14 (Monday, Dec. 11) — vs. Green Bay Packers (MNF) (Win, 8-5)
With inexperienced Jordan Love at quarterback, Martindale uses all his tricks to confuse and harass him into making ill-advised throws. The Giants’ pass rush gets to Love early and often, and he is intercepted twice.
Meanwhile the same creativity the Giants used on the Packers in London is deployed again, with Wan’Dale Robinson and Campbell being schemed open underneath and Hyatt scoring twice. The Giants win going away and get back into the division title race.
Week 15 (Sunday, Dec. 17) — at New Orleans Saints (Win, 9-5)
This game becomes a shootout reminiscent of the Giants’ last game in New Orleans. Derek Carr finds success passing to Michael Thomas and Chris Olave against the Giants’ cornerbacks, while Daniel Jones repeatedly finds Darren Waller and Isaiah Hodgins open for big gains.
In the fourth quarter the Giants’ pass rush finally begins to have success, and Dexter Lawrence, Azeez Ojulari, and Elerson Smith, just activated from the IR, all have sacks as the Giants win their fourth in a row.
Week 16 (Monday, Dec. 25) — at Philadelphia Eagles (Win, 10-5)
In the past 50 years, the team that lost the Super Bowl has only won it the next year once (the 2018 New England Patriots, who defeated the Los Angeles Rams after losing to the Philadelphia Eagles the previous year). In 2023 the Eagles are finding out what “regression to the mean” is all about. Rather than cruising to the division title, they are 10-4 and only a game ahead of the Giants.
The Giants surprise the Eagles by driving for a score to open the game, with Hyatt beating James Bradberry. Jalen Hurts tries to answer but is intercepted by Banks as he tries to hit DeVonta Smith down the sideline. On the next drive, Waller and Bellinger keep the sticks moving, and the Giants’ offensive line continues to hold off the Eagles’ pass rush. Wan’Dale Robinson scores on a double reverse and the Giants lead 14-3 at halftime. Santa Claus is pelted with snowballs as he crosses the field at the Linc.
In the second half the Eagles mount a comeback as their offensive line starts to impose its will on the Giants’ defense.They drive into Giants’ territory, and then Olamide Zaccheaus beats Darnay Holmes on a slant and takes it to the house to bring the Eagles to within 4. Late in the fourth quarter the Giants are backed up almost to their goal line and have to punt. Jamie Gillan fumbles the snap out of the end zone for a safety and the Eagles close to within 14-12. They get the ball back and drive to the Giants’ 40 behind passes to A.J. Brown and Dallas Goedert with seconds remaining. Jake Elliott comes out to kick the winning field goal...and pushes it wide right. The Giants win their first game in Philadelphia in a decade. They are tied for the division lead.
Week 17 (Sunday, Dec. 31) — vs. Los Angeles Rams (Win, 11-5)
The Rams are playing out the string in a second consecutive losing season. They are no match for the Giants on either offense or defense. The Giants’ pass rush sacks Matthew Stafford 4 times, two of them by Dexter Lawrence. Daniel Jones throws for 350 yards and 4 touchdowns. Tyrod Taylor plays the entire fourth quarter as the Giants rest their starters and coast to victory.
Week 18 (Sunday, Jan. 7) — vs. Philadelphia Eagles (Lose, 11-6)
The Eagles have won their previous game against Arizona and come to MetLife tied with the Giants and a game ahead of Dallas with the division title on the line. The Eagles dominate time of possession in this game, but the Giants’ linebackers and edge defenders do a good job setting the edge and limiting the damage Jalen Hurts can do carrying the ball on zone reads and collapsing pockets.
The Eagles’ defense is imposing its will on the Giants’ offense, though, sacking Jones three times and preventing Saquon Barkley from getting to the second level. The teams trade touchdowns and field goals, and with two minutes left the Giants have to punt. The Eagles drive into Giants’ territory, and with the clock ticking down, Hurts hands the ball to Boston Scott, who breaks a tackle at the 35 and runs in for the winning score.
The Giants finish tied with Dallas but win the tiebreaker to get the No. 5 seed. They proceed to defeat the NFC South champion Carolina Panthers but then lose to Detroit in the Divisional Round.
OK, I know I did something dastardly there. This is all just for fun. I couldn’t resist the opportunity to resurrect the infamous 1968 incident in which Eagles fans threw snowballs at Santa Claus during halftime of a game they were losing in a season that had gone bad for them. But that required me to have the Giants break their losing streak at the Linc on Christmas Day. And I can’t imagine the Giants beating Philadelphia twice just yet, so that in turn required me to have them lose the final game to them at MetLife. And what more likely way for the Giants to lose than on a Boston Scott touchdown?
But I tried to be fairly realistic with the rest of the schedule. I see that opening stretch of six games, with five of six against good teams and four of five on the road, as fraught with peril for the Giants. A losing record after running that gauntlet is not a stretch of the imagination at all.
The next stretch of four games is no cakewalk, either. I have the Giants winning three of those, but a worse record than that is not difficult to imagine. I then have them reeling off five in a row, which is not unrealistic other than the game at Philadelphia. That’s a combination of the specific teams played early vs. late, the preponderance of road games early, and an assumption on my part that it will take time for all the Giants’ new parts, especially on offense, to mesh.
The fact is that on paper the Giants’ schedule looks tougher than last season’s. Arizona looks to be a bad team, especially early on and if Kyler Murray doesn’t start the season on the active roster. Green Bay is in rebuilding mode and they are almost a complete unknown because of how little Jordan Love has seen the field. Los Angeles also looks like a rebuilding team, but one that is less further along with a number of aging great players and few young replacements on the roster. Other than those three, the Giants’ opponents every week present a significant challenge.
But that’s how things look in May. In May last year no one saw Jacksonville winning their division, Seattle (or the Giants) making the playoffs, or Indianapolis being terrible. This season is sure to have something similarly unpredictable.
What is true of my picks, though, is that they assume that the Giants’ new players will fit the system and make the team better, and especially that players who had difficult years in 2022 play up to their potential this year. If these things happen, 11-6 is not an unreasonable guess. But unlike 2022, the 2023 Giants are not playing with house money. The pressure is now on. We’ll see how they respond.