The regular season is just around the corner, and in the preseason, the New York Giants are already starting to show shimmering signs that the dog days are over. Offensively, the team is showing great promise, even in their second and third team. It’s opposing defenses that dictate the difficulty of the season. Let’s kick off our analysis of the 2019 Giants by ranking their schedule from toughest to easiest games, beginning with the most difficult.
New York Giants Most Difficult Games of 2019
1. Week Six: at New England Patriots
It’s almost hard to believe that the New England Patriots and the Giants haven’t met in the regular season since 2015. What makes this matchup so difficult is the unknown. New England has made a habit of stumbling under the pressure of the Giants, but the history is so far passed that it’s far-fetched to imagine continued struggle as they face Eli Manning in the last chapter of his career. The Giants will also be visiting Gillette Stadium disadvantageously following a short week of practices. The Patriots still have a bit of concern at left tackle. And with depth at the G-Men’s left outside linebacker position, that spot seems to be the best method for penetrating the Patriots offensive line and accessing Tom Brady.
2. Week 12: at Chicago Bears
At this point in the season, it goes without saying that no one will be psyched about playing at Soldier Field. But even more intimidating than wind and weather is the Chicago Bears defense, which is easily one of the best in the NFL. The roster is stacked, but as my colleague Stevie Watson noted, the real key to their defensive scheme is their talented and experienced new coordinator, Chuck Pagano. Safe to say, if I’m Manning, or anyone of his offensive line, even after a solid bye week of rest, I’m scared. A defense-heavy matchup should be expected, and considering Big Blue’s lack of pass rush, it’s Mitchell Trubisky’s game to lose.
3. Week 13: vs. Green Bay Packers
Aaron Rodgers might be the most dangerous quarterback the league has ever seen. The Green Bay Packers simply don’t work without their leading signal-caller. Once again, without a consistent pass rush, the Giants don’t have a chance at stopping the cheese heads, even if the rumors of drama between Rodgers and new, 39-year-old first-time head coach Matt LaFleur, are true. Defensive coordinator Mike Pettine wanted big guys on the interior, which resulted in the release of Mike Daniels late last month. Clay Matthews is another noteworthy departure that signified a clear intent to rebuild the outside pass rush.
Building UP is the theme here, and we’re talking specifically height and weight. In this situation, it’s difficult to tell how these bug guys will hinder the Giants offense, but if the confidence that LaFleur has put in Pettine is any indication, this game will be challenging because, at the moment, we really don’t know what to expect beyond a bunch of fearsome monsters charging at Manning’s finally stable-looking offensive barrier. Hopefully, by Week 13 the Giants will have watched enough Packers film to determine a viable game plan.
4. Week One: at Dallas Cowboys
Less than a month from now, the Giants season will open with one of the most notorious rivalries in American football. Nothing new to see here. Dak Prescott and Ezekiel Elliott have already faced Manning and Saquon Barkley twice. With the recent news that Golden Tate’s four-game suspension will be upheld, Big Blue doesn’t have anything too shiny or new to remark on offensively. The Dallas Cowboys, on the other hand, have a new offensive coordinator calling the shots.
Kellen Moore’s experiences as a two-year professional quarterback for first, the Detroit Lions, and then his current club, partnered with a year of experience as the ‘boy’s quarterbacks coach, will certainly provide a new perspective on the team’s previously outdated offensive scheme. We’ll see if the promotion is in any way effective. Last year, the Giants were defeated in both matches against Dallas. With a stacked secondary, maybe the G-Men will be able to shut out Jerry Jones’s men. But again, it won’t be easy.
5. Week Two: vs. Buffalo Bills
No, this isn’t a joke. Last season, the Buffalo Bills were ranked second defensively. It’s not even that their roster is stacked with particular players, but it’s all about Sean McDermott’s coaching abilities. Josh Allen showed something quite far away from star potential in his rookie season. Offseason roster moved have largely mitigated the issues that plagued the Bills offense in the building of a stronger line (fantasy managers: I wouldn’t sleep on Cole Beasley if I were you). But the main trial for the Giants will be managing against McDermott’s pass rush. And if it’s not looking good by the end of the third quarter… well, it’s time to put Daniel Jones to the test, and see how he fares against one of the most fearsome defenses in the league.
6. Week 14: at Philadelphia Eagles
This matchup will be one of the most difficult to prepare for, despite the Giants experience with this division rival. The reason? Carson Wentz hasn’t played past Week 13 since the 2016 season. Both of the past two years, the Philadelphia Eagles have had to turn to Nick Foles in wake of Wentz’s injuries. And this season… Nate Sudfeld? Not so fast… he’s already hurt, and won’t be cleared to play until at LEAST Week 5. Cody Kessler is on concussion watch. And as of the recent news, Clayton Thorson and Josh McCown (back from retirement already on a new, one-year deal) are next in line. Kessler’s got a reputation to amend, and Thorson… well, we don’t know a whole lot about the rookie out of Northwestern yet, other than his completing 16 of 26 passes to finish their Week 2 preseason game.
The good news for the Eagles is that they seem to have it together otherwise. Zach Ertz is one of the top two tight ends in the division, and Alshon Jeffrey is a reliable impact player. Defensively, Fletcher Cox and Malcolm Jenkins are not to be messed with, and no matter what is happening on the other side of the ball, the Eagles can be trusted to put a stop to some of those big Barkley and Evan Engram plays. And following an even more difficult home show versus the Packers, the Giants are sure to arrive in Philadelphia for their first Eagles showdown a little shook up.
7. Week Seven: vs. Arizona Cardinals
Also not a joke, because Kliff Kingsbury is not a joke. In him are the makings of what I like to call “The McVay Effect.” His experience, confidence, approachability, and youth bring a new look to the Arizona Cardinals – a look we haven’t seen in a while. His team features an array of underrated young athletes, helmed by an unobjectively overrated rookie quarterback (Kyler Murray).
Larry Fitzgerald, in his 16th NFL season, will lead a VERY young collection of receivers as the Cards attempt to put themselves back on the map. Meanwhile, Vance Joseph’s defense features such underrated weapons as Jordan Hicks. Despite the Giants accustom to the 3-4 scheme, Joseph is clearly reworking things through preseason and finding ways to adapt to less traditional offenses. This game will be difficult, like many of those aforementioned, because it will be difficult to prepare for until we start seeing trends once Arizona is in regular-season form.
8. Week Five: vs. Minnesota Vikings
With the Minnesota Vikings new weight in the offensive line, it’s clear that quarterback Kirk Cousins will be well-protected this year. Thus, Week 5 will tell whether or not our attractive o-line is really all that. At the home field for the second week in a row, the Giants have no excuse if they blow this game. Minnesota, on the other hand, will be coming off a difficult matchup at Soldier Field. The Vikings have BEEN somewhat of a wild card for quite some time, so this game will likely come down to preparation, which the Giants will have many opportunities for, and the Purple People Eaters… will not.
Embed from Getty Images