The 2021 NFL schedule is here. The Giants have a number of easy stretches in which they could build momentum.
That time of the year has finally arrived.
Following the big free agency moves, the eye-popping trades, and the edge-of-your-seat annual draft, the 2021 NFL regular-season schedule is here.
The Giants are legitimately set up for success. They spent a ton of money in free agency to retain star pass rusher Leonard Williams and sign wideout Kenny Golladay. They then traded back in the draft and still selected dynamic receiver Kadarius Toney in the first round before later acquiring talented edge rusher Azeez Ojulari (Georgia) and cornerback Aaron Robinson (Central Florida).
Faith in Daniel Jones is additionally present — he’ll be in the second year of a system led by Joe Judge and Jason Garrett and should have the necessary assistance in order to improve.
And now, with the schedule out, it’s clear the Giants possess a number of easy stretches they could actually benefit from in 2021.
Weeks 1-3 (vs. Denver, at Washington, vs. Atlanta)
The Giants could build spectacular momentum right off the bat — their first three matchups are very winnable games (at least for right now) and all should be superb opportunities for Daniel Jones to build productive connections with his new targets (Kenny Golladay, Kadarius Toney, John Ross, etc.).
The Week 1 matchup with Denver shouldn’t be an immense challenge for Big Blue despite the talent in and around the Broncos roster. Currently, Drew Lock or Teddy Bridgewater will be under center for Denver — sure, there’s the possibility the Broncos land Aaron Rodgers in a trade, but we won’t jump to conclusions on that just yet.
Traveling to MetLife Stadium (which might be at full capacity) with question marks at the quarterback position could spell doom for Denver and thus lead to a hot start for a productive Giants defense.
The Giants then, on a short week, go on the road to face Washington, and we all know how New York performs against this division rival. In spite of the Football Team winning the NFC East title in 2020, Big Blue has possessed the edge in recent years, having emerged victorious in each of the last five meetings.
Defensive coordinator Patrick Graham will find a way to shut down whoever is calling signals, whether that be Taylor Heinicke or longtime veteran and free-agent pickup Ryan Fitzpatrick. The success on that end will therefore take pressure off Jones, who will need to deal with a very talented Washington defense.
The subsequent Atlanta matchup in Week 3 is a game I could see the Giants screwing up, but on paper, it’s still winnable. The team could continue its early-season success against an Atlanta defense that’s below-average and an offense led by an aging quarterback in Matt Ryan. Not to mention, Julio Jones could be out of Atlanta by the time this Week 3 meeting kicks off.
Weeks 12-13 (vs. Philadelphia, at Miami)
Unfortunately, the second of three easy stretches for New York doesn’t begin until Nov. 28, over two months after the Atlanta game. However, it’s a stretch the Giants need especially after facing the Saints, Cowboys on the road, Rams, Chiefs, and Buccaneers in five of seven games.
We commence this two-week period with the Week 12 home game against the Eagles, and if there’s anything that’s likely certain about the NFC East this year, it’s that Philly may finish in last place. There are a number of question marks surrounding that organization, including at quarterback and head coach.
Expect the Giants to potentially defeat the Eagles twice if they remain healthy.
Miami in Week 13, albeit on the road, is additionally a winnable matchup for the Giants. Despite the fact the Dolphins nearly made the postseason in 2020, there are some doubts surrounding the ability of Tua Tagovailoa to succeed at the professional level — Patrick Graham could definitely figure out how to exploit the young quarterback’s weaknesses.
Weeks 16-18 (at Philadelphia, at Chicago, vs. Washington)
The final easy stretch, luckily for Big Blue, takes place during the last three weeks of the regular season.
Philly in Week 16 should be a winnable game. As was previously mentioned, the Giants could defeat the Eagles twice in a season for the first time since 2007.
When facing Chicago Week 17, the Giants should be going up against either an aging quarterback in Andy Dalton or an inexperienced rookie signal-caller in No. 11 overall pick Justin Fields.
Either situation could lead to favorable results for New York’s defense.
And finally, in Week 18, the Giants will be facing the NFC East foe that hasn’t given them too many issues in recent years — Washington. At home, in a potentially meaningful January matchup, Big Blue should enter prepared and notch a huge victory.
Why these stretches carry great importance
I understand the current hype around this organization.
The front office went out and made smart moves in free agency that immensely improved the state of the roster. Dave Gettleman then finally traded back in the draft, garnered multiple picks (including 2022 first- and fourth-round selections), and still drafted Kadarius Toney.
Daniel Jones now additionally has a reliable slate of weapons and Saquon Barkley will be returning from an ACL tear.
But that doesn’t mean they’ll be one of the top teams in the NFC and a surefire No. 1 or 2 seed — slow your roll when it comes to that type of scenario.
This Giants team will deal with adversity, and it may come at the hands of the Saints in Week 4, Rams in Week 6, Chiefs in Week 8, Buccaneers in Week 11, and Chargers in Week 14. Dallas on the road isn’t an easy matchup either — that will occur in Week 5.
Potentially rough meetings with some of the NFL’s top organizations will make the aforementioned games against Washington, Philly, Denver, Atlanta, Miami, and Chicago that much more crucial — the Giants will need those victories if they wish to take the leap and reach the postseason.