Sam Darnold Aaron Rodgers Tom Brady
ESNY Graphic

There are five critical non-division matchups New York Giants fans could look forward to during the 2019 regular season.

Last Wednesday, the complete NFL regular season schedule for the was released. Opponents for each team have been decided and known since the conclusion of the 2018 regular season. However, now teams are aware of how tough some of the stretches of their respective schedules will be.

The New York Giants‘ opponents consist of the six division games per usual. However, there are 10 other games against non-division opponents, in which some really catch the eyes of fans.

Big Blue plays the entire NFC North, AFC East, as well as the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Arizona Cardinals. Obviously, every game is a big game in the NFL, but there are five of these non-division games that could end up being huge wins for the Giants.

That being said, let’s look at five non-division matchups the New York Giants fans could look forward to in 2019.

1. Week 5 (Oct. 6) vs the Minnesota Vikings: The return of Kirk Cousins to MetLife

For the first time since Week 17 of the 2017 regular season, the Giants will face off against quarterback Kirk Cousins. Formerly the Washington Redskins quarterback from the time he was drafted in 2012 until 2017, Cousins has done fairly average against the Giants.

In eight career starts against New York, Cousins has posted a 3-5 record (1-3 at MetLife Stadium) and has middle-of-the-road to below-average statistics. In each of his starts, Cousins has an average of 58.1% completions made, 253.4 yards, one touchdown and two turnovers per contest.

Not to mention, both the Giants and Vikings have good rosters looking to return to the NFC Playoffs. The Giants haven’t made the postseason since 2016. The Vikings last made it in 2017 when they lost to the Philadelphia Eagles in the NFC Championship game.

Giants head coach Pat Shurmur will also be coaching against his former team. Shurmur was the tight ends coach and then the offensive coordinator in Minnesota from 2016-17.

With a quarterback like Cousins (who threw for 30 touchdowns and 10 interceptions last season) along with receivers Stefon Diggs and Adam Thielen, this new Giants secondary will have a lot on their hands in this October matchup.

2. Week 6 (Oct. 10) at the New England Patriots: The Rematch of Super Bowls 42 and 46

For the first time since the 2015 regular season, the Giants will be facing off against Tom Brady and the New England Patriots. This, of course, is a rematch of the two Super Bowls Eli Manning has won. The Brady vs Eli rivalry returns once again, possibly for the last time.

In 2015, the 5-4 Giants came up just short of defeating the then-undefeated Pats. After allowing a conversion on 4th-and-10, the Giants defense buckled as the Pats got into position for an eventual game-winning field goal from kicker Stephen Gostkowski. The Pats prevailed and remained undefeated in the regular season with a 27-26 victory at MetLife.

In that game, Brady threw for 334 yards and two touchdowns while his opponent Manning threw for 361 yards and two scores. Therefore, this contest could potentially become another shootout between the longtime veteran quarterbacks.

This game will also consist of a matchup between the Pats’ rushing defense and the Giants rushing attack. With running back Saquon Barkley and an improved offensive line with potential starting center Jon Halapio and guard Kevin Zeitler, the Giants will face a Pats front seven that was ranked 11th in the NFL last year in terms of rushing yards allowed per game.

3. Week 10 (Nov. 10) at the New York Jets: The MetLife Bowl

Once again, fans will be able to witness the MetLife Stadium rivalry game that occurs once every four seasons.

In 2019, the New York Jets and Giants will finally be facing off in the regular season for the first time since 2015.  In that matchup almost four years ago, the Jets pulled away with the 23-20 overtime win, in what was a home game for the Giants. This time around, it’ll be a home game for the Jets. This gives the Giants nine total games in MetLife Stadium in 2019.

This contest will be the first-ever showdown between Barkley and Jets quarterback Sam Darnold in the pros. These two definitely have a connection for multiple reasons. Both talents faced off previously in the Rose Bowl, with Barkley playing for Penn State and Darnold playing for the Trojans of Southern California. USC edged out Penn State for the win, 52-49.

The Giants chose Barkley No. 2 overall in last year’s NFL Draft, right before Darnold was taken at No. 3. There was a lot of criticism for the Giants taking Barkley instead of a successor to Manning. Even after Barkley won the AP Offensive Rookie of the Year, that criticism for Big Blue still stands from some.

Another showdown to look forward to within this Week 10 game will be Manning and the Giants’ number of offensive weapons vs Jets safety Jamal Adams. Adams totaled 115 combined tackles last season with one interception and 12 passes defended. The Pro Bowl safety will have his hands full with Giants receivers Sterling Shepard and Golden Tate along with tight end Evan Engram.

Mitchell Trubisky Getty Images
Mitchell Trubisky Getty Images

4. Week 12 (Nov. 24) at the Chicago Bears: Facing Mitch Trubisky This Time?

The Giants edged out the Chicago Bears last year in Week 13 with a 30-27 win in overtime. It was one of five wins for Big Blue in 2018. Not to mention, the win was a great one considering the Bears were a playoff team in the NFC.

However, Bears starting quarterback Mitch Trubisky missed his second of an injury-induced two-game span that week. Due to a lingering shoulder injury that also sidelined him the week before, quarterback Chase Daniel started in Trubisky’s place.

In 2019, Trubisky (unless another injury occurs) will be under center against the Giants. It’ll be interesting to see how the Giants pass-rush fares with an offense led by Trubisky. The Pro Bowl quarterback threw for 3,223 yards and 24 touchdowns in his sophomore season last year.

The Bears rushing defense also topped the league last year with an average of 88 yards allowed per game. That front seven vs. Barkley will be an interesting aspect of this contest as well.

5. Week 13 (Dec. 1) vs the Green Bay Packers: Can Big Blue finally defeat Rodgers again?

If you want to talk about the last time the Giants were able to defeat an Aaron Rodgers-led Green Bay Packers, you’d have to go all the way back to 2012. In a Week 12 game that season, the Giants edged out Rodgers and the Packers 38-10. The following year, the Giants defeated the Packers again. However, the team was led by quarterback Scott Tolzien, as Rodgers was sidelined due to injury.

It’ll be interesting to watch how multiple areas of the Big Blue defense defend Rodgers’ and his multi-talented qualities. The Big Blue secondary is almost brand new, with cornerback Janoris Jenkins the only one to return to the starting lineup from last year. Cornerback Sam Beal will be getting his first action after sitting all of 2018 due to a shoulder injury. Safeties Antoine Bethea and Jabrill Peppers are also both new to the Giants.

Despite Green Bay missing the playoffs the last two seasons, Rodgers can still sling it. He threw for 25 touchdowns and only two interceptions in 2018.

Rodgers is also great at getting outside the pocket and extending plays, as he’s done his entire career. Young defenders such as linebacker Lorenzo Carter, defensive linemen Dalvin Tomlinson and B.J. Hill and a potential rookie pass-rusher will have a lot on their hands when they face the future Hall of Fame quarterback.

Ryan Honey is a staff writer and host of the Wide Right Podcast.