NY Giants game-by-game predictions for the 2021 NFL season
We know, we know: it's way too early to predict the outcome of every game on the New York Giants' regular season schedule, fresh off the NFL's unveiling Wednesday night.
But sometimes you've got to have some fun, and after what we all endured during the COVID-19 pandemic, that's what this should be about.
It's essentially a fruitless exercise, of course, trying to figure out the winners and losers in games between teams that will look a lot different after being shaped over the next four months in advance of the 2021 regular season.
In the spirit of some entertainment, though, here's my best guess and some instant reaction at how the 2021 season will play out for the Giants.
Week 1: vs. Broncos
Sunday, Sept 12, 4:25 p.m.
Makes sense for the Giants to open at home against a non-division opponent. Their marquee games are on the road this season, so dress up the opener and take advantage of Week 1 pomp and circumstance. Saquon Barkley should return. The defenses should both be stingy. The matching of wits between Giants DC Patrick Graham and Broncos OC Pat Shurmur - fired as Giants head coach just one season ago will be fascinating. The Giants have won just once in Week 1 since 2011, but the Broncos have an eight-game September losing streak. Make it nine as the Fighting Joe Judges get off to a good start.
Week 2: at Washington
Thursday, Sept. 16, 8:20 p.m.
This won't be an easy turnaround for the Giants, who will have to travel and face the defending division champs on a short week. Should be another knock-down, drag-out affair between two good defenses. The Giants swept Washington last year. The quarterback who protects the ball (Daniel Jones and Ryan Fitzpatrick) wins the game. Jones has played well in Landover, but Washington is due in this rivalry.
Week 3: vs. Falcons
Sunday, Sept. 26, 1 p.m.
It's going to be fun seeing the Giants' secondary try to match up against Matt Ryan and Atlanta's weapons, including Julio Jones, Calvin Ridley and rookie phenom Kyle Pitts. With extra time to prepare for a rookie head coach, Judge and his staff should be able to gain an upper hand when it matters most.
Week 4: at Saints
Sunday, Oct. 3, 1 p.m.
Sean Payton's teams have obviously been dominant at home through the years, but it's fair to wonder how much Drew Brees' retirement will strip away some of that intimidation. New Orleans is still talented up front, and Alvin Kamara can be a headache. Until Jameis Winston proves he can truly lead this team with mistake-free football, the Giants will have a chance at an upset.
Week 5: at Cowboys
Sunday, Oct. 10, 4:25 p.m.
Dallas is a completely different team with Dak Prescott, who has had his way with the Giants since he took over the job for Tony Romo. If he's healthy and, after a month of working out the kinks, new DC Dan Quinn can figure out how to get the Cowboys to play defense, the Giants might find themselves on the short end here in another close one.
Week 6: vs. Rams
Sunday, Oct. 17, 1 p.m.
The Giants' defense gave the Rams' offense fits last season. Matthew Stafford is in for Jared Goff, and he'll test Big Blue much more than Goff did. The Rams won't be caught sleeping early as they were at home a year ago, and they'll steal one here.
Week 7: vs. Panthers
Sunday, Oct. 24, 1 p.m.
Judge will challenge the Giants here, and they'll deliver their best performance with Barkley outshining Christian McCaffrey. The secondary comes to play and forces Sam Darnold into a pair of fourth quarter interceptions, including one by former Panther James Bradberry. It's a pivotal point near the midway point, and a huge victory.
Week 8: at Chiefs
Monday, Nov. 1, 8:15 p.m.
It's hard to fathom how the Giants go to Arrowhead and beat Patrick Mahomes in prime time. This is a gut check spot, and the Chiefs are the AFC's best for a reason. A measuring stick, for sure, and a game that'll provide experience to help in the second half.
Week 9: vs. Raiders
Sunday, Nov. 7, 1 p.m.
This is a game the Giants will need to send themselves into the bye week above .500. Put this down as Daniel Jones' best game of the season with the Giants taking advantage of the Raiders' secondary There will be plays to be made, and Big Blue will make them in a game played in an early window for Vegas.
Week 10: Bye
Sunday, Nov. 14
Week 11: at Buccaneers
Monday, Nov. 22, 8:15 p.m.
The Giants gave Tampa Bay everything it could handle last season, and if not for some shaky play from Jones in the second half, they might have won the game. Even then, the controversial ending with the failed 2-point conversion is what kept the Giants from forcing overtime. Tom Brady and Co. are not going to look past Big Blue again.
Week 12: vs. Eagles
Sunday, Nov. 28, 1 p.m.
Redemption is sweet, Part 1. The Giants are set up to have their defense do to Philadelphia what the Eagles have done to them for a big part of the decade. Not sure there's a win the Giants' fans will enjoy more.
Week 13: at Dolphins
Sunday, Dec. 5, 1 p.m.
These teams know each other so well, with Judge and Graham going up against Brian Flores and his staff. The Giants should be battle-tested at this point and Barkley should be taking his game to another gear after three months of the season.
Week 14: at Chargers
Sunday, Dec. 12, 4:05 p.m.
The Chargers are a sneaky good team with a lot of talent, and Justin Herbert was the apple of the Giants' eye for a while before he decided to go back to Oregon. Expect Los Angeles to take advantage of a tough travel spot for the Giants.
Week 15: vs. Cowboys
Sunday, Dec. 19, 1 p.m.
This is where the Giants begin to find their stride. The home crowd should be raring to go for meaningful December football. Much like in 2016, the Giants get a big play from their star receiver - Kenny Golladay - and an overwhelming defensive performance to beat Dallas at MetLife.
Week 16: at Eagles
Sunday, Dec. 26, 1 p.m.
The streak ends here. For the third straight season in Philadelphia, faces new and old, the Giants watched a double-digit lead evaporate last year. They haven't won at Lincoln Financial Field since Tom Coughlin stomped the sideline. This would be the biggest win in five years for the Giants, serving as the impetus for a strong playoff push.
Week 17: at Bears
Sunday, Jan. 2, 1 p.m.
This will be a win-win for the Giants against Chicago. Improve their chances at winning the division and, with a loss, increase the value of the Bears' first-round pick they acquired for next year.
Week 18: vs. Washington
Sunday, Jan. 9, 1 p.m.
The Giants are on a roll at this point having made a strong push in the division, and after beating the Cowboys and sweeping the Eagles, toppling Washington is the final domino en route to the NFC East crown.
FINAL RECORD: 11-6
Art Stapleton is the Giants beat writer for NorthJersey.com. For unlimited access to all Giants analysis, news, trades and more, please subscribe today and sign up for our NFC East newsletter.