The Giant Insider Online

Giants Have NFL’s 8th Most Difficult Schedule in 2018

The New York Giants head into the 2018 with a tall task on their hands. They are aiming to go “worst-to-first” in the NFC East this year with a new coaching staff, an upgraded roster and revived attitude.

Their 3-13 finish in 2017 was a huge disappointment after going 11-5 in 2016 and qualifying for the postseason for the first time since winning Super Bowl XLVI after the 2011 season.

The losing season does not come without a silver lining. The Giants earned the second overall selection in the NFL Draft this past spring and ended up taking what many believe to be some of the top players in the draft.

The NFL does very little to help the meek inherit the earth schedule-wise, however. The Giants drew the eighth most difficult schedule as their 2018 opponents have a cumulative winning percentage of .520. That puts them at a disadvantage with their three division rivals, who all have more favorable schedules: Dallas (.500), Philadelphia (.492) and Washington (.504).

Here are the four toughest games – outside of the division – on the Giants’ 2018 schedule:

Week 1 – Sept 9 – Jacksonville

The AFC South champions will open the 2018 season in New Jersey after ending last season 24-20 losers to the New England Patriots in the AFC Championship Game. This year, they appear to be just as strong and will be looking to get this season off on the right foot.

Jacksonville allowed the second-fewest points in the NFL in 2017 (16.8 per game) and as we know, the Giants were next to last in scoring points (15.4). The Jags led the NFL in rushing with 141 yards per game and were 6th in scoring at 26.1 PPG. The Giants will have to play a monster game to win this one. It will be the first big test for Shurmur and his crew.

This meeting will be the first Giants-Jaguars game in which Tom Coughlin is not the head coach of one of the teams. Coughlin is currently serving as the Jaguars’ VP of Football Operations.

Week 3 – Sept 23 – at Houston

The Texans will be on their own quest this season after an injury-riddled 2017 saw them finish at a paltry 4-12.  The two biggest losses on their roster were All-World DE J.J. Watt and rookie QB Deshaun Watson who will both likely be on the field against the Giants here.

Watson was a dynamo after taking over the job in mid-September: 1,699 passing yards, 19 touchdowns, and 8 interceptions with 269 yards and 2 touchdowns in six starts before teeing his ACL in early November.

Watt will finally get on the field at the same time with the Texans’ other superstar DE, Javedeon Clowney, who looks to be coming into his own after injuries stunted the beginning of his NFL career. Without Watt, who suffered a season-ending leg fracture in Week 5, the Texans went on to allow a league-high 436 points.

Expect the Giants to run into a buzzsaw here. Watson was absolutely electric as a rookie. Watt and Clowney will test the Giants’ offensive tackles (Nate Solder and Ereck Flowers) to the max.

Week 7 – Oct 22 – at Atlanta

The team that almost (and should have) won the Super Bowl two years ago and could have derailed the eventual Super Bowl champion Philadelphia Eagles in the Divisionals last season are back with a vengeance.

QB Matt Ryan was signed to a to a six-year, $169.25 million contract through 2023, so there’s no question they are priming for another Super Bowl run. Their defense was ranked eighth in the NFL last year and the Ryan-Julio Jones hookup on offense is one of the league’s best.

The Falcons will be once again sporting the versatile RB tandem of Devonta Freeman and Tevin Coleman and will add another weapon to their arsenal with Alabama WR Calvin Ridley, ,who they selected this year in the first round of the NFL Draft.

The Falcons were 5-3 at the newly-christened Mercedes Benz Stadium last year.

Week 10 – Nov 12 – at San Francisco

The legend of Jimmy Garappolo is in full swing. The former Patriots backup won all five of his starts to finish off the season after coming over in a mid-season trade. One of his wins was not at the expense of the Giants, however. That distinction goes to his now backup, C.J. Beathard, who beat the Giants at Levi’s Stadium, 31-21, in Week 10.

The Giants will be out in the Bay Area again this year and you can expect the 49ers to be an equally, if not exceptionally, tougher foe. The Niners made several key offseason moves, including signing the 26 year-old Garappolo to a 5-year contract worth $137.5 million. They also signed four-time Pro Bowl safety Richard Sherman, RB Jerk McKinnon and ex-Giant center Weston Richburg in addition to selecting Notre Dame LT Mike McGlinchey and WR Dante Pettis of Washington.

The Niners have one of the bright lights in the NFL as a head coach in Kyle Shanahan, who after losing his first nine games as a head coach in 2017, finished up strong by winning six of the final seven. San Francisco is never an easy trip for the Giants and this year, it will be very much on the difficult side. They are fortunate this trip comes directly after their bye week.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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