An upgraded attitude, coaching staff, and roster. An abysmal posthumous season. The Philadelphia Eagles, of all teams, as a role model. Sure, maybe I’ve been getting a little overzealous this off-season, but there’s a lot to look forward to come fall, and who’s to say the New York Giants don’t make the worst-to-first comeback of the decade? With all kinds of shiny new assets, Big Blue is without a doubt a playoff contender.
Last year’s catastrophic results have spawned a new day in East Rutherford. The Giants have quite the task at hand in proving that the organization is still as mighty and dignified as it was from 2005-2008. It will take more than this season to prove that the G-Men aren’t a fluke, but we’ve got to start somewhere–and start, my friends, is what we have done.
Pat Shurmur, as the new head coach, wasted no time this off-season in rebuilding the team. Fan favorites such as Jason Pierre-Paul, Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, and Justin Pugh were released, traded, and traded, respectively ahead of the 2018 NFL Draft. Teddy Williams, Nate Solder and Jonathan Stewart are a few steals from before the draft. Penn State’s wunderkind Saquon Barkley was acquired at the second overall draft pick, followed by a beast named Will Hernandez, who joins the corps from UTEP, and Richmond’s Kyle Lauletta, who will likely stand on the sidelines for the majority of this season taking diligent notes from the man he is competing with, Davis Webb, to succeed. These unit changes, in addition to the move to a 4-3 defensive scheme and a fresh coaching staff, Shurmur assures will bring the Giants back to the top.
As we have been bestowed with the AFC South for our extra-conference rivalries, there are interesting challenges to be conquered within that division. However, there are five games on the schedule within our own conference that are arguably more vital conquests on the Giants road to the playoffs.
Which Games Are Must Wins on the 2018 New York Giants Schedule?
Week Four: New Orleans Saints
Drew Brees is 39 years old. Eli Manning is 37. Both teams have fearsome running backs. The New Orleans Saints Alvin Kamara proved himself in his rookie year, as we hope Saquon Barkley will. Projected to be a tight game, the matchup brings back memories of November 1, 2015, when the Saints ultimately defeated the G-Men in the third-highest scoring game in the history of the NFL. Similarly, we’re expecting high entertainment value from this match, but this game will be played at MetLife Stadium, and a win would be extremely telling of what the Giants will be bringing to the field for the remainder of the season. Since the Saints are historically at their best at home, the Giants will have to use the same factor to their advantage. They last defeated the Saints at home in 2016, and while the Saints have made major improvements on defense, they are still highly susceptible against a good run game. Easily one of the Giants’ biggest playoff competitors, they meet the Saints this year with a threatening offense they fear.
Week 6: Philadelphia Eagles
The Giants will have to pull out all the stops against the Eagles in this home game, the first of two matchups with the Eagles on the schedule. Last season, we saw the birds in a revived state after pulling off significant roster changes. Sound familiar?
This year, the Giants will have to supply the Eagles young and agile offense with a ferocious defense—far more ferocious than that which the 2017 Eagles gave the Giants in their losses to the team last season. If they can emerge victorious against the defending Super Bowl champs this early in the season, they’ll be seen as the team to beat within the NFC East.
Week 7: Atlanta Falcons
When visiting the Atlanta Falcons on October 22nd, the Giants will have had 11 days to prepare for the Monday night matchup, coming off their home game against the Eagles two Thursdays before. This game should be defense-heavy, as both teams have spent much of this spring and summer attempting rapid improvements to that side of the ball. The game will also feature stud wide receivers on the other side in Odell Beckham Jr. and Julio Jones. The Falcons are a possible wild card competitor for Big Blue, and a win would show that the G-Men aren’t only here to play. They’re capable of contending.
Week 10: San Francisco 49ers
Last year, Big Blue may have fallen asleep on the San Francisco 49ers when visiting the west coast, but this year, San Fran remains hardly a playoff team, and the Giants’ morale is far from “sleeper.” Coming off the bye week, not only will the Giants have plenty of time to relax after a long first half of the regular season, but also lots of film to watch in preparation for the new Niners led by former New England Patriots quarterback, Jimmy Garoppolo. While the opposition has been hyped in the off-season, their roster still boasts multiple holes at several different positions. The Giants will need to win this game against a rising team with a young quarterback to prove that they are deserving of the postseason, and to erase the memory of last year’s embarrassing loss.
Week 17: Dallas Cowboys
In the second of two games against the Dallas Cowboys (this one at home), we’re looking at MAJOR playoff implications. This is where we’ll see Pat Shurmur’s new offense at work, as they attempt to manipulate through Rod Marinelli’s scheme in a way that Ben McAdoo couldn’t. If the Eagles live up to the hype, winning the NFC East once again, the Giants and the Cowboys could be playing this game for a Wild Card spot.