Over the first month of the 2017 NFL season, Eli Manning, Odell Beckham Jr. and the rest of the New York Giants can make a huge statement.
When you look at the New York Giants 2017 schedule, their toughest four-game stretch is in the first month of the season. They start the season on the road at Dallas, followed by the home opener against the Detroit Lions, followed by two road games against the Eagles and Buccaneers.
These four teams had a combined record in 2016 of 38-26 and the Cowboys and Lions both made the playoffs. Although the Eagles and Buccaneers missed the playoffs last season, they’ve made significant upgrades to the offensive side of the football and both are expecting to contend for a playoff berth this season.
When you also factor in that the Giants haven’t defeated the Eagles in Philly since 2013 and will be playing them on a short week, it possible the Giants might be underdogs in two or three of their first four games of the season.
Some may see these first four games daunting, it actually gives the Giants the opportunity to take control of the NFC East and to make a statement early in the season that they are one of the elite teams in the NFL.
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Here’s a quick glance at the Giants first four games.
In what’s becoming a tradition, starting the season on the road against the Cowboys won’t be an easy task. Although the Giants did sweep the season series against the Cowboys last season, their two victories were by a combined four points. Despite losing Johnathan Hankins via free agency, the Giants front four of Jason Pierre-Paul, Damon Harrison, Olivier Vernon, and rookie Dalvin Tomlinson, still matches up favorably against the Cowboys offensive line.
On paper the Giants week two home opener against the Lions is the easiest game of this stretch. The Giants won their Week 15 matchup last year 17-6, and the Lions haven’t made enough significant upgrades to beat the Giants at MetLife Stadium. The Giants held the Lions offense in check last year without JPP.
As we mentioned earlier the Giants haven’t beaten the Eagles in Philly since 2013 and in the off-season the Eagles added receivers Alshon Jeffery and Torrey Smith. But the Giants have continuity on defense having 10 out of their 11 starters back, and their secondary which is considered by many to be the best in the league (NYP) which is more than equipped to go up against the explosive Eagles receivers.
Tampa is a team on the rise after going 9-7 last year and many are predicting them to win the NFC South this season. Quarterback Jameis Winston is poised to be a star and with Mike Evans and DeSean Jackson as his top two targets will put up points at home against the Giants defense. But as talented as Winston Targets are he is outgunned by the weapons Eli Manning has to throw to in Odell Beckham Jr., Brandon Marshall, Sterling Shepard and Evan Engram. This game could be a shootout, and if it is you have to like the Giants chances of winning.
After this stretch is over, the Giants schedule will get easier as in the next five weeks they’ll play the Chargers, Broncos, Seahawks, Rams and 49ers. Of those teams only the Seahawks made the playoffs last year and the Giants play them at home.
So if the Giants can come away 3-1 or even 2-2 after this four game stretch, they will put themselves in a good position to go on a run the second month of the season. Of the first four games obviously the Cowboys and Eagles are the most important games since they’re divisional games, and if the Giants can win them both, they’ll put themselves in the driver’s seat of the NFC East.
We’ll find out a lot about the New York Giants during the first four games of the season, and it’s imperative that head coach Ben McAdoo has this team focused and not overconfident after the success the team had last year.
What they do in their first four games, will be a sign of things to come.