Fourteen of the New York Giants’ 16 opponents have been known for several years. The remaining two were revealed when the 2017 season ended in December.
But for Giants fans, the day dates and times are attached to those future games might as well be a national holiday.
“We knew who our opponents would be, and that we would play seven games against teams that were in the playoffs last year, including two against the Super Bowl champions, so we knew it is going to be a challenging schedule,” Giants head coach Pat Shurmur said in a statement. “I don’t see anything remarkable about the schedule, but it is very challenging.”
Here is a quick snapshot of the schedule highlights.
Got the Power
Despite the Giants’ dismal 2017 season, the scheduling formula did them no favors.
Based on opponents’ win percentage from 2017, the Giants are tied for the eighth toughest schedule in football. Not only does the slate feature six games against 2017 playoff participants, including two against the champion Eagles, it also boasts showdowns with potential rebounders.
In Week 3, for example, the Giants visit a Houston Texans team that will be welcoming back quarterback DeShaun Watson, whose showstopping rookie season was cut short by an October injury. Ditto for defensive end J.J.Watt, who suffered a season-ending injury as well.
Strangers and a Familiar Face in Week 1
For the first time since 2014, the Giants will not face the Dallas Cowboys on the road to open their season.
Instead, former head coach Tom Coughlin’s worlds will collide, as he return to MetLife Stadium for the first time since he rejoined the Jacksonville Jaguars as the team’s Executive Vice President of Football Operations. The Jaguars, fresh off an AFC South title and appearance in the conference championship game, will open 2018 by making their visit to East Rutherford since 2010.
“We look forward to opening the season against Jacksonville, which was an AFC finalist last season,” Shurmur said.
This will be the Giants’ first Week 1 game held at home on a Sunday since 2010, when the Giants opened MetLife Stadium (then known as New Meadowlands Stadium) with a 31-18 win over the Carolina Panthers.
It’s the first Giants Week 1 home game overall since 2012, a 24-17 loss to the aforementioned Cowboys. For that latter game, the Giants were in the defending champions’ kickoff spot, but the game was held on a Wednesday night thanks to the Democratic National Convention being held the next night.
Those accustomed to visiting Arlington early in the season needn’t worry. The Giants will make their annual visit to Dallas in Week 2, which will serve as that week’s “Sunday Night Football” game. That game will be the first part of a Texas doubleheader, as they take on the Texans in Houston a week later.
Coughlin’s return isn’t the only reunion on the 2018 docket. In Week 5, the Giants will travel to Charlotte for an early afternoon showdown with the Carolina Panthers.
General manager Dave Gettleman, offensive coordinator Mike Shula, and running back Jonathan Stewart presumably won’t need directions around Bank of America Stadium, as each played vital roles in the Panthers’ rise to glory in recent years.
It turns out that defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul will indeed play a game at MetLife Stadium this season, although he’ll be dressed in pewter rather than blue. The defensive end arrives with his new teammates, the Tampa Bay Buccaneer to East Rutherford on November 18.
Not Ready for Prime Time Players
You know you’ve had a rough season when you have more prime-time games in the ensuing year than you had wins.
Disregarding flexible scheduling, the Giants are currently slated for four prime time games, including a pair of Monday night showdowns on the road against Atlanta (October 22) and San Francisco (November 12).
The aforementioned Week 2 showdown against the Cowboys is their only scheduled Sunday night appearance, while another divisional game, a home tilt against Philadelphia, will serve as the Giants’ Thursday night game. It will be the first Thursday night game the Giants host since they took a 32-21 decision from Washington in 2015.
The Fateful Eight
The Giants’ schedule is perfectly split down the middle, as their bye week will come during Week 9.
“The bye is in a good spot,” Shurmur said. “We’ll be able to play the first half of the season, and then have our bye as we get ready for the second-half push.”
Though the spot is convenient, it becomes all the more imperative for the Giants to impress in their first half, a task easier said than done. In their first half, they will see five 2017 playoff teams (Jacksonville, New Orleans, Carolina, Philadelphia, and Atlanta), two challenging divisional foes (Dallas and Washington), and an interconference opponent bringing back two stars on the road (Houston).
The NFC East features the reigning Super Bowl winner, as well as a pair of teams still smarting over their playoff absence. If the Giants aren’t careful, they could be buried quickly all over again.