With the preseason coming to a close earlier this week, the NFL regular season is right around the corner. For the New York Giants, it will be a chance to erase the memory of an underwhelming 2013 when they finished 7-9 on the season. The Giants expected to be right in the thick of the playoff picture in the NFC, but will an offense in transition keep them from contending? The defense will be what decides that, as they will be tasked with carrying the team until the offense comes together.
The Giants will have an important game right off the bat as they take on fellow NFC playoff hopeful Detroit Lions on Monday Night Football. The Giants were able to pull off an improbable win in Detroit in Week 16 last season, so this is a winnable game. The Giants will then return home for two weeks, taking on the Arizona Cardinals and Houston Texans. It is imperative the Giants get off to a better start than last season, and they have a good opportunity to do so as going 2-1 is not out of the realm of possibilities with this three-game slate.
The next four weeks of the season could be the make-or-break stretch for the Giants. They will play all their divisional road games in this stretch which takes them into their Week 8 bye. A home date with the Atlanta Falcons in Week 5 is the only break in divisional road matchups between Week 4-Week 7. The road stretch will start at the Washington Redskins in Week 4 on their only Thursday night game of the season. Then the Giants will travel to the Philadelphia Eagles in Week 6 for Sunday Night Football and finish with the Dallas Cowboys.
This is the most important stretch of games for the Giants in 2014. With as many strong teams as the NFC has, winning the NFC East may be the only way for them to qualify for the postseason and getting road division wins will help them win the division. They should be able to handle the Falcons at home, but winning three divisional road games is difficult in a season, let alone during a four-week stretch. A loss in Philadelphia is likely, as is a win in Washington. Dallas is the wild card, but with how the Giants have looked in preseason on offense, they will struggle to keep up with the Cowboys offensively. The Giants’ record sits at 4-3 heading into the bye.
After the bye, the Giants have a brutal stretch of games. They will host the Indianapolis Colts on Monday Night Football in Week 9, travel to the Seattle Seahawks in Week 10 and then host the San Francisco 49ers and Cowboys in consecutive weeks. It makes the stretch prior to the bye week that much more important as it is conceivable the Giants could be on at least a three-game losing streak heading into their matchup with the Cowboys. The Giants will be lucky to win one of these games. They should be able to get some retribution on the Cowboys, and a 5-6 record is more likely.
For how difficult that stretch is for the Giants, the rest of the season should look like a cake walk. The Giants will be traveling for consecutive weeks, but against weaker teams in the Jacksonville Jaguars and Tennessee Titans. These are two games the Giants must win to qualify for the postseason, putting them at 7-6.
The last three games of the season will determine the Giants’ fate. At this point, the Redskins should be out of playoff contention already, and the Giants should be able to capitalize with a victory in Week 15, sitting at 8-6. Traveling to the St. Louis Rams will not be an easy task, as they have one of the better defenses in the NFL. A Giants loss here would not be surprising.
That sets up Giants vs. Eagles season finale and a fourth-consecutive season the NFC East could be decided the last week of the year. At this point, the Giants should be clicking better offensively. With it being a home game, the Giants should have the advantage of a raucous crowd behind them that wants to see their team make the postseason. The Giants will win, finish the season 9-7 and take home the NFC East crown and host a playoff game the opening weekend of the playoffs.