Giants in '14: Predicting each game
Week 1: Giants at Lions, Monday, Sept. 8, 7:10 p.m. (ESPN)
The Giants came from behind to beat the Lions in Detroit in December, but much has changed for both teams since then. Detroit has a new coach and will be far more motivated for its season opener than it was in Week 16 of its lost 2013 season. Matthew Stafford, Calvin Johnson and Reggie Bush in the Monday night spotlight is just too much for the Giants, who open with a loss for the third year in a row.
Prediction: Giants lose (Record: 0-1)
Week 2: Cardinals at Giants, Sunday, Sept. 14, 1 p.m. (FOX)
Arizona was one of the hottest teams in the league at the end of 2013 and barely missed the playoffs in spite of a 10-6 record. The Cardinals had a fearsome defense, and Carson Palmer and the offense were much better late in the year once they had learned Bruce Arians' schemes. This year, it is the Giants who will be learning a new offense early, and the Cardinals will disappoint the MetLife Stadium crowd with a victory in the Giants' home opener.
Prediction: Giants lose (0-2)
Week 3: Texans at Giants, Sunday, Sept. 21, 1 p.m. (CBS)
Jason Pierre-Paul will be especially fired up by all of the pregame Jadeveon Clowney hype and post a huge game against whoever's playing quarterback for the Texans by this point. After a week's worth of answering questions about how much they feared a repeat of 2013's 0-6 start, the Giants get their first victory of the year at home against Houston.
Prediction: Giants win. (1-2)
Week 4: Giants at Washington, Thursday, Sept. 25, 8:25 p.m. (CBS/NFL Network)
I don't like road teams in Thursday night games. I don't like road teams in divisional games in a division that is as close as this one always seems to be. I don't like the Redskins much, but I have to believe Robert Griffin III will be better in 2014 than he was in the second half of 2013. Plus, you know DeSean Jackson's always eager to bust out against the Giants.
Prediction: Giants lose (1-3)
Week 5: Falcons at Giants, Sunday, Oct. 5, 1 p.m. (FOX)
This is a tough test for the Giants' new secondary, as Roddy White and Julio Jones still form the most fearsome receiver tandem in the league. But playing at home after a nine-day break, the Giants show up refocused and handle the Falcons in the trenches to secure their second win of the season.
Prediction: Giants win (2-3)
Week 6: Giants at Philadelphia, Sunday, Oct. 12, 8:30 p.m. (NBC)
Call it a shootout, as Eli Manning and the Giants are finally starting to click in Ben McAdoo's system and the Eagles have been clicking in Chip Kelly's since last October. But I think the defense, minus Linval Joseph and Justin Tuck, is going to have a tough time stopping the run in the early part of the season. And that leaves you extremely vulnerable to the Eagles.
Prediction: Giants lose (2-4)
Week 7: Giants at Dallas, Sunday, Oct. 19, 4:25 p.m. (FOX)
The Cowboys are 3-1 against the Giants the past two seasons, and the one loss was by a Dez Bryant pinkie in the end zone. Tony Romo and Dallas have Perry Fewell's number, and a second straight divisional road shootout fails to go the Giants' way. Quirky that this puts them halfway through their divisional schedule, but that all three divisional games so far have been on the road.
Prediction: Giants lose (2-5)
>> BYE WEEK <<
Colts at Giants, Monday, Nov. 3, 8:30 p.m. (ESPN)
The Giants have had 14 days off to contemplate their disappointing 2-5 start. Tabloids are screaming for Tom Coughlin's head. They haven't played a home game in nearly a full month. The Yankees missed the playoffs again. New York fans are in a foul mood, and Andrew Luck is coming to town. But the Coughlin Giants dig on adversity, and this is a game in which they play with a backs-against-the-wall fierceness that keeps their season alive.
Prediction: Giants win (3-5)
Week 10: Giants at Seattle, Sunday, Nov. 9, 4:25 p.m. (FOX)
Short week. Longest possible road trip. A game in Seattle, where no one ever wins, against the reigning Super Bowl champions who beat the Giants 23-0 at MetLife in December. Obviously, doing predictions this far in advance is nuts anyway, but from here it's tough to see a way the Giants win a game like this. Plus, do you think no one's going to remind Richard Sherman & Co. that Walter Thurmond said in April that the Giants' secondary could be better than Seattle's?
Prediction: Giants lose (3-6)
Week 11: 49ers at Giants, Sunday, Nov. 16, 1 p.m., (FOX)
No break here, as the 49ers and the Seahawks have been the league's two best teams for two years running. San Francisco likes to run the ball, and I still think that run defense is going to show up as a weakness for the Giants in 2014. The Giants do tend to play this team tough, but I think they're outmanned against a San Francisco roster that should have NaVorro Bowman healthy and maybe even Aldon Smith back from suspension at this point.
Prediction: Giants lose (3-7)
Week 12: Cowboys at Giants, Sunday, Nov. 23, 8:30 p.m. (NBC)
The Giants are desperate and in better position to handle the Cowboys at home than they were last November. In the midst of a strong contract year, Pierre-Paul kindles memories of his glory days with a big game against Romo & Co. And Manning leads the Giants to a victory in the final two minutes, preserving their chances of a winning season in spite of the rough start.
Prediction: Giants win (4-7)
Week 13: Giants at Jacksonville, Sunday, Nov. 30, 1 p.m.
Jacksonville, who knows? Gus Bradley seems to be doing some good things there, but can they expect to have a real quarterback in place by the end of November 2014? It's not an especially intimidating place to play, and I think by this point the Giants will be playing the McAdoo offense better than they were in September.
Prediction: Giants win (5-7)
Week 14: Giants at Tennessee, Sunday, Dec. 7, 1 p.m.
Tennessee, who knows? Ken Whisenhunt could get things turned around there I guess, but can they expect to have a real quarterback in place by Pearl Harbor Day 2014? It's not an especially intimidating place to play, and I think by this point the Giants will feel as though they're getting on a roll and talking big about still having a chance to make the playoffs.
Prediction: Giants win (6-7)
Week 15: Redskins at Giants, Sunday, Dec. 14, 1 p.m. (FOX)
We have the Giants losing in their division road games, so we're going to give them wins in their division home games. It's the NFC East, which is an unpredictable wreck of a division, so it only seems fair -- especially when predicting from this far out. Giants get to .500 for the first time all year.
Prediction: Giants win (7-7)
Week 16: Giants at St. Louis, Sunday, Dec. 21 4:05 p.m. (FOX)
Real tough game here, against a fearsome pass rush and a team that could be a surprise contender in 2014 if Sam Bradford stays healthy and things break right for them. But those are some big "ifs," and right now this is a Giants team on a four-game winning streak that still feels it has a chance at the playoffs. They go into St. Louis and win a close one against the Rams.
Prediction: Giants win (8-7)
Week 17: Eagles at Giants, Sunday, Dec. 28, 1 p.m. (FOX)
The Giants are playing for a wild card, and the Eagles have locked up the division already, so Chip Kelly isn't playing all of his guys the whole game. This is a great break for a Giants team that needs help to get in, and Manning and the boys deliver a spirited comeback win as their fans keep refreshing out-of-town scoreboards on their smartphones hoping for a break in Chicago or Green Bay or Dallas or Carolina or someplace like that.
Prediction: Giants win (9-7)
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