The first Sunday of the 2018 NFL regular season is Sept. 9, 250 days from today. For the New York Giants, it is never too soon to think ahead. This is especially true two days after concluding the worst season in franchise history.
The Giants’ 2018 opponents have been released. Naturally, the schedule includes three away and three home games against the other members of the NFC East (Dallas Cowboys, Philadelphia Eagles, and Washington Redskins).
The Giants went 1-5 against their division mates in 2017 thanks a victory over Washington in the regular season finale. Since the NFL switched to their current alignment of eight divisions with four teams each in 2002, the Giants haven’t gone winless in the NFC East. Unfortunately, they are 2-9 in division road games since 2014, including an 0-4 record against Philadelphia at Lincoln Financial Field.
The Giants do have some positive precedent on their side in spite of finishing 2017 with the NFC’s worst record. Five of the 2010s NFC East champions (2011 Redskins, 2013 Eagles, 2015 Redskins, 2016 Cowboys, 2017 Eagles) finished last in the season prior to winning the division. There also hasn’t been a repeat NFC East champion since the Eagles won four in a row from 2001-04.
According to the NFL’s scheduling formula, the teams within a division play four games each from a rotating AFC and NFC division. In 2018, the NFC East will play the AFC South (Houston Texans, Indianapolis Colts, Jacksonville Jaguars, Tennessee Titans) and NFC South (Atlanta Falcons, Carolina Panthers, New Orleans Saints, Tampa Bay Buccaneers).
The Giants will face Jacksonville at home, which will be a homecoming for Tom Coughlin. Coughlin, the Jaguars vice president of football operations, won two Super Bowls as Giants head coach. It could potentially be a homecoming for quarterback Eli Manning, who has been linked to possibly reuniting with Coughlin in Jacksonville.
New Orleans will also face the Giants at Metife Stadium. The last time Manning faced his father’s old team at MetLife Stadium (Week 2 of the 2016 regular season) he went 32-of-41 for 368 yards with a quarterback rating of 104.1. Janoris “Jackrabbit” Jenkins blocked a field goal and returned it 65 yards for a touchdown in the 16-13 Giants victory.
The Giants will also look to get revenge on the Buccaneers (who beat them 25-23 on Oct. 1) and the Titans (who haven’t lost to the Giants in East Rutherford since dropping the 1991 regular season finale 24-20 as the Houston Oilers).
On the road, the Giants will make their first trip to Mercedes-Benz Stadium to take on the Falcons. The Giants were 3-1 at the now-demolished Georgia Dome. They will also travel to Houston to square off against the Texans in only the fifth all-time meeting in the series.
The Giants will have two road games in the rotating AFC/NFC portion of the schedule that have personal significance.
They will travel to Lucas Oil Stadium to play the Colts. Although Peyton Manning no longer suits up for Indianapolis, they are one of two teams Eli Manning has never beaten (the Los Angeles Chargers are the other). There is also a road game against the Panthers, a homecoming for Giants general manager Dave Gettleman. Gettleman was Panthers general manager from 2013-17. Carolina had a record of 43-26-1, won three division titles, and earned a trip to Super Bowl 50 during Gettleman’s tenure as general manager.
Teams also play against conference opponents who finished in the same position. The Giants were fourth in the NFC East and will play the Chicago Bears (fourth in the NFC North) at home and the San Francisco 49ers (fourth in the NFC West) on the road.
The Bears traded up to select quarterback Mitchell Trubisky with the second overall pick in last year’s NFL Draft. The Giants have the second overall pick in this year’s draft.
The Giants lost 31-21 to a C.J. Beathard-led ‘Niners squad Week 10 in a game that wasn’t as close the final score might suggest. Next season, they will face Jimmy Garoppolo. The Giants have familiarity with Garoppolo from his time with the New England Patriots. The Giants and Patriots have faced off in their preseason finale every year since 2001. Garoppolo was Tom Brady’s backup from 2014 until he was traded on Oct. 30.
The NFL typically announces their schedules with dates and times on the third Thursday of April. In 2018, the third Thursday of April is Apr. 19.