New York Giants: 3 most intriguing non-NFC East matchups

Dec 18, 2016; East Rutherford, NJ, USA; New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning (10) throws the ball against the Detroit Lions in the second half at MetLife Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Robert Deutsch-USA TODAY Sports

The New York Giants will play their typical NFC East foes twice in 2017, but their matchups with the Broncos, Raiders and Bucs hold the potential to be nail biters.

Outside of the regular and postseason, April is one of the best months in football. Not only do fans get to witness the newest talent selected at their teams’ draft, but the upcoming schedule for the season is also revealed.

As for the Giants, they will face their typical divisional foes — the Dallas Cowboys, Philadelphia Eagles and Washington Redskins. In addition, the Giants will see action against both the NFC and AFC West, traveling out to San Francisco, Arizona, Denver and Oakland and hosting the Seahawks, Rams, Chargers and Chiefs. The Giants will also face the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Detroit Lions within the first two months of the season.

Simply put, the Giants will dominate some of those matchups. Who in particular? I will leave that to the imagination, although it is pretty clear to see. However, the remainder of the schedule promises an action-packed 2017 season for the Giants, with three matchups in particular really standing out.

Fans will want to clear their schedules to watch the Broncos, Raiders and Bucs games. Two of the best defenses will go toe-to-toe when the Giants head to Denver, one of the best defenses in the league will try to shut down Oakland’s explosive offense when the Giants head out to the Bay Area, and the Bucs have the potential to shock many teams this year.

Let’s take a closer look into why those three matchups have the potential to have fans on their feet.

Jan 1, 2017; Denver, CO, USA; Denver Broncos outside linebacker Von Miller (58) in the third quarter against the Oakland Raiders at Sports Authority Field at Mile High. Mandatory Credit: Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

1. Denver Broncos (2016: Third in AFC West, 9-7)

The New York Giants’ Week 6 matchup against the Broncos is not only going to be the battle of two top-10 defenses in the league, but also a tale of two offenses: the Giants coming into the season with one of the best receiving corps in the league and the Broncos coming into their season with uncertainty at the quarterback position.

According to the Denver Post, the Broncos D struggled against the run in 2016, ranking 28th in the league overall. But they were ranked fourth in overall defense, coming in third with sacks, seventh in turnovers and first against the passing game. The Giants offensive line is going to have its fair share of tests in 2017 against pass rushers and Denver’s line presents one of the toughest battles it will fight all year. After all, Denver’s Von Miller ended the year with the second-most sacks in the league (13.5).

Eli Manning will also see himself up against the League’s best pass defense that only allowed 185.8 yards per game in 2016. At the same time, either Trevor Siemian or Paxton Lynch will be on the receiving end of a Giants defense that picked off their opponents 16 times last season, forced 16 fumbles and ranked third overall in total tackles. If there is any team that can expose the Broncos offense, it’s the Giants.

It will be interesting to see who gets the edge here, but two-time Super Bowl winner Eli Manning will more than likely be the difference in powering the Giants past the Broncos.

Nov 27, 2016; Tampa, FL, USA; Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Jameis Winston (3) smiles as he pumps his fist against the Seattle Seahawks during the second half at Raymond James Stadium. Tampa Bay Buccaneers defeated the Seattle Seahawks 14-5. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

2. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2016: Second in NFC South, 9-7)

The Giants game against the Bucs in October has the potential to be an extremely exciting game. Jameis Winston is coming off of one his best years yet and ownership equipped him with a handful of new weapons this offseason.

Winston made NFL history in 2016, recording over 4,000 yards in his second year as a starter, and also Bucs history with the most touchdown passes in a single season (28). Now add veteran receiver Desean Jackson into the equation — to compliment Pro-Bowler Mike Evans and Cameron Brate — and you have a pretty solid receiving corps.

But wait, there’s more!

With the 19th pick in this year’s draft, the Bucs selected highly touted tight end O.J. Howard. Howard is fast, he can easily separate from defenders and, according to, he is a “natural pass catcher.” The foursome of Evans, Jackson, Brate, Howard and a healthy Doug Martin (post-suspension) can — and will — be dangerous.

The Bucs defense cannot be overlooked either. They were by no means stellar last year, but we saw bits and pieces of what they can truly do on the field. With defensive guru Mike Smith coming back for his second year as defensive coordinator, the team can only go up from here. Just recently, Smith even went to the extent of sitting down each and every person on the squad to show them video of “the good, the bad and the ugly” from 2016. Whether or not that will resonate with the players is still to be seen.

Dec 24, 2016; Oakland, CA, USA; Oakland Raiders quarterback Derek Carr (4) carries the ball in the third quarter against the Indianapolis Colts during a NFL football game at Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

3. Oakland Raiders (2016: Second in AFC West, 12-4)

The Raiders head into the 2017 season with two glaring questions on the offensive side of the ball: How will Derek Carr fare after breaking his leg, late last year, and how will Marshawn Lynch perform after being out of the league for a year?

On paper, their offense is a force to reckon with. Carr threw for almost 4,000 yards, with 28 touchdowns and only six interceptions, while Michael Crabtree and Amari Cooper locked down seasons with over 1,000 reception yards each. As for Lynch, ESPN’s Jeff Darlington reported that a source close to the running back said, “he’s coming back to dominate. I’ve never seen him this excited about anything.”

Whether or not this excitement and energy will translate into a product on the field is to be seen, but the Giants will have their hands full with this group.

Not to worry, though, as the Giants should (keyword: should) have a field day against this Raiders defense, who allowed 375.1 yards per game during the 2016 season. The Raiders ranked last in sacks and were tied for 27th in interceptions.

This is going to be a sigh of relief for both the Giants offensive line, as well as Eli Manning, who threw 16 picks last year.

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