- Ohm Youngmisuk, ESPN Staff Writer
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The Giants may not own the toughest schedule in the NFL this time around, but it won't be a cakewalk either in 2013.
The Giants will play five of their eight home games against 2012 playoff teams -- Washington, Green Bay, Minnesota, Seattle and Denver.
And they'll finish the season with another tough second-half stretch. Here's the schedule and our rapid reaction:
(All times Eastern)
Sept. 8 at Dallas, 8:30 p.m. (NBC: Sunday Night Football)
Sept. 15 Denver, 4:25 p.m. (CBS)
Sept. 22 at Carolina, 1 p.m. (Fox)
Sept. 29 at Kansas City, 1 p.m. (Fox)
Oct. 6 Philadelphia, 1 p.m. (FOX)
Oct. 10 at Chicago, 8:25 p.m. (NFL Network: Thursday Night Football)
Oct. 21 Minnesota, (Monday night), 8:40 p.m. (ESPN)
Oct. 27 at Philadelphia, 1 p.m. (Fox)
Nov. 3 BYE
Nov. 10 Oakland, 1 p.m. (CBS)
Nov. 17 Green Bay, (Sunday night), 8:30 p.m. (NBC)
Nov. 24 Dallas, 4:25 p.m. (Fox)
Dec. 1 at Washington, (Sunday night), 8:30 p.m. (NBC)
Dec. 8 at San Diego, 4:25 p.m. (Fox)
Dec. 15 Seattle, 1 p.m. (Fox)
Dec. 22 at Detroit, 4:05 p.m. (Fox)
Dec. 29 Washington, 1 p.m. (Fox)
For openers: The Giants will open the season against the Cowboys for the second consecutive season, but this time at Jerry Jones’ palace.
Last season’s opener was a huge disappointment as the Giants opened their title defense at home in lackluster fashion with a 24-17 loss in a rare Wednesday night game.
This time, the Giants will be highly motivated to spoil the Cowboys’ home opener. Tom Coughlin’s team is 4-0 at the Cowboys’ new stadium and has won eight of the last 11 meetings against the Cowboys.
Also, the last time the Giants opened a season at Dallas was in 2007, when they lost 45-35, but they went on to win the Super Bowl after that season.
The Fab Five: The five biggest games of the season are showdowns that will certainly put Perry Fewell’s defense to the test.
In the second week of the season, the Giants will find out how they stack up with Super Bowl contender Denver and Peyton Manning. Fewell will have to find a way to slow down Peyton, Wes Welker, Demaryius Thomas and Eric Decker.
The Giants will face the Packers in the second half of their season for the second straight year. Going up against Aaron Rodgers will give the Giants a good indication of where they rank in the NFC.
The Seahawks and Russell Wilson are a rising team in the NFC; the Giants will host Seattle in December and may need a win to earn a playoff spot.
The Giants travel to Detroit for the second-to-last game of the season and could still be fighting for a playoff spot. The Giants will get a taste of the Lions’ explosive offense and plenty of Calvin "Megatron" Johnson.
Finally, the Giants finish the regular season against the Redskins and Robert Griffin III in a game that could decide the NFC East.
Toughest stretch: Getting off to a quick start, as the Giants have so many times in recent memory, may be a bit harder this season with the likes of the Cowboys, Broncos and Panthers to start off. The Giants also open the season with four of their first six games on the road.
But when it comes to the Giants, it is always about how they finish the second half of the season.
While it might not be as brutal as last year’s schedule, which was the toughest in the NFL entering the season, the Giants will have to make a playoff run with the following schedule in their final seven games: Packers, Cowboys, at Chargers, Seahawks, at Lions and Redskins twice.
The Chargers and Lions might be the two easiest opponents during that stretch based on last season, but both of those games are on the road.
That will not be an easy task for a Giants team that fell apart on the road last year and has unraveled down the stretch too many times in the Coughlin era.
If the Giants are going to win the division, they’ll have to play better down the stretch this year, and they’ll have to go through the reigning division champs twice in a month.
Under the lights: The Giants are scheduled to play in prime time five times this season.
They’ll open under the lights and that gigantic video screen in Dallas on a Sunday night. Then, in the middle of October, the Giants play back-to-back night games at Chicago and at home against Minnesota, with 10 days off between games.
They open December in Washington on Sunday Night Football, and there’s always a chance they could be flexed later in the season to another night game.
Can’t-miss game: It’s got to be the Manning Bowl.
It’s only happened two times before, and who knows how many more of these we will get. Big brother Peyton is undefeated against Eli, and this time Peyton will have a stacked Broncos offense featuring his newest weapon -- super slot receiver Wes Welker.
“Obviously, anytime you play your brother it is special,” Eli said. “It is unique and I cherish those moments, whether before the game or looking across during the national anthem and seeing my big brother and seeing him at the coin flip. Those are great moments that we’ll cherish, and hopefully the Giants will get a win for once.”
2dDan Graziano and Adam Caplan