The New York Giants were ‘rewarded’ for a solid 2016 campaign with a brutal 2017 schedule, one that includes a rough first-half of the campaign.
Fans and analysts alike learned the 2017 NFL schedules for all teams this past Thursday, and one could easily argue the New York Giants have the toughest stretch of all over the opening first seven weeks of the campaign. Granted, it’s far too early to say, for sure, that is the case, as so much can and will happen between the fourth full weekend of April and Sept. 10.
Knowing all we know now, though, it’s hardly an overstatement to believe the Giants could be in serious trouble seven games into the season before the team’s bye. Some may point out Big Blue was always going to face a challenging schedule because of the club’s set opponents pure league rules, but those who make NFL schedules seemingly took joy in giving New York a difficult road back to the postseason a second straight year.
James Kratch of NJ Advance Media/NJ.com and ESPN’s Brian Burke offered a variety of facts that may lead some Giants fans to believe the NFL is against their beloved club or that the league favors the Dallas Cowboys (or some other NFL East team) or that the Football Gods™ are conspiring to prevent Eli Manning from hoisting the Vince Lombardi Trophy a third time before he retires as the greatest quarterback in franchise history.
Yes, the Giants will face four opponents coming off bye weeks. As Burke put it, New York will “have more total travel miles than any other non-west-coast team (other than the London/Jacksonville Jaguars).” The Giants won’t play a divisional opponent at home until they host the Dallas Cowboys on Dec. 10.
For now, let’s concentrate only on New York’s first seven games, a period that, of course, begins with a road contest at AT&T Stadium versus the Cowboys. As Kratch wrote, this will be the third-straight year the Giants start a season at Dallas. While it’s understandable the NFL wants the Giants and Cowboys to headline a national television spot, the gimmick of these two teams always playing in Week 1 is getting ridiculous. Either make it an annual tradition and stop pretending it’s some coincidence, or shake things up every other year.
The Giants playing Dallas on the first Sunday night of the season is not, on its own, all that big a deal. Both teams draw ratings due to their sizeable fan bases, and a game between the two has extra sizzle on this occasion because of how well both clubs played last season. Indeed, we’ll be waiting all day for Sunday night on Sept. 10.
What makes it harsher for the Giants this time around is that New York follows the Week 1 showdown with Dallas with a Monday Night Football home game versus the Detroit Lions. That’s back-to-back prime time games, the second of which will occur at a stadium that houses a fan base that’s never fully embraced evening contests throughout its history. It’s also a second consecutive prime time game against a team that participated in the playoffs this past January.
New York’s third prime time game of the season occurs on Oct. 15 when the Giants travel out west to face the Denver Broncos in Week 6. Denver’s defense will offer a tough challenge for just about any offensive line, let alone New York’s sieve-like unit, but the opponent is only one reason why a Big Blue fan may cringe at knowing the Giants will participate in a trio of night games between Sept. 10 and the middle of October.
Kickoff times affect more than when fans make treks to stadiums. They determine player training, eating, travel and sleep schedules for multiple days before and after the fact. The Giants won’t really begin a “normal” NFL schedule until the club returns from the Bye to host the Los Angeles Rams on Nov. 5.
Things get no easier for the Giants away from the previously mentioned prime time affairs. Following the Monday night contest against the Lions, New York goes back on the road for away games versus division rivals the Philadelphia Eagles and Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The Giants receive some relief between road games at the Bucs and Broncos when the club hosts the Los Angeles Chargers on Oct. 8 for a contest that kicks off at 1:00 p.m. ET.
There’ll be no advantage of facing a west coast team at 1:00 p.m. ET for the Giants when the Seattle Seahawks come to MetLife Stadium on Oct. 22, as that game is currently scheduled to begin at 4:25 p.m. ET. Even if the Seahawks decide to trade cornerback Richard Sherman before Week 7, those predicting the demise of this particular Seattle era may want to pump the breaks and see how things play out during the opening month of the season.
Obviously, no NFL team wants to enter a Bye on a losing record, but the Giants undeniably face an uphill climb over the first seven weeks of the season. New York starting out 3-4 may not only be unavoidable; it may be the best fans of the Giants can hope for once September begins.