The New York Giants have the league's eight easiest schedule, according to NFL.com, who calculated the 2020 records of the Giants' opponents as 128-142-2. But that record is based on last year with some of the opponents having different coaching staffs and/or key personnel.
Still, it's not out of the question for the Giants to not only finish above .500 for the first time since 2016, but to also push for a wild card berth. Here is a very early forecast as to how the team's 2021 schedule might play out.
Week 1, September 12, vs. Denver: WIN
Drew Lock? Teddy Bridgewater? The only way the Broncos quarterback situation will matter any is if Denver trades for Aaron Rodgers, a scenario that is a long shot to happen. But even then, given what we learned about Pat Shurmur and his play-calling tendencies, would it still matter?
Week 2, September 16, at Washington (TNF): LOSS
Preseason forecasters will probably be touting the Dallas Cowboys as the team to beat in the NFC East. Still, you have to like what Ron Rivera is doing down in Washington with that defense and with having added some firepower to the receiving corps.
Thursday night games usually aren't very kind to the Giants, given the short turnaround. Still, if they're going to be in the conversation for the NFC East, they have to start being competitive in these situations. That said, my gut tells me the Giants and WFT split the regular-season series this year, and it starts with a Washington win in their backyard.
Week 3, September 26, vs. Atlanta: WIN
In this game, the marquee matchup is Kyle Pitts and Julio Jones against the enhanced Giants defensive secondary. But whereas in the past, the Giants had to often pick their poison regarding who to devote added resources to and who to single cover, now they have several solid defensive backs and linebackers that can run and cover. If that group stays healthy and as good as it looks on paper, the Giants should be able to handle the Falcons at home.
Week 4, October 3, at New Orleans: LOSS
Drew Brees might be retired, but the Saints still run Sean Payton's system, and it's been a major thorn in the Giants; side, especially down in the Superdome. The game might not necessarily be one of those high-scoring affairs, but the Saints are still a little too potent on offense even without Brees, and they still have a pretty good defense that can create fits for opponents.
Week 5, October 10, at Dallas: LOSS
The Cowboys' current home hasn't exactly been a happy place for the Giants of late, and Dallas is getting Dak Prescott back. But questions remain about the defense, which last year was historically bad and will try to regain some credibility under new defensive coordinator Dan Quinn. Expect emotions to be running high between these two teams in Prescott's first game back against the team that ended his season prematurely last year.
Week 6, October 17, vs. Los Angeles Rams: WIN
Had the last game between these two clubs been about a minute longer, the Giants might very well have won that meeting. Of course, it also would have helped if they didn't hurt themselves with mistakes. That said, the Giants did hold their own against the Rams, and there's no reason to think they won't do so again this year and pull out the win.
Week 7, October 24, vs. Carolina: LOSS
Whether the Panthers can pull this one out of their hat depends on how quickly Sam Darnold looks like the promising draft prospect he was coming out of college rather than the beaten-down signal-caller who was put through the wringer during his time with the Jets. With better talent around him than he had during his time with the Jets, the Panthers won't be a pushover in this contest.
Week 8, November 1, @ Kansas City Chiefs (MNF): LOSS
Again, primetime games just haven't been kind to the Giants, and that especially includes Monday Night Football, where the Giants hold a 6-12 record. Throw in a game against the defending AFC champions on the road, and an extra motivated Steve Spagnuolo, the Chiefs defensive coordinator, and Giants head coaching candidate, passed over for Pat Shurmur.
Week 9, November 7, vs. Las Vegas Raiders: WIN
The Raiders have struggled to field a decent defensive secondary, allowing 263.2 yards in the air per game last year. Other than the addition of second-round pick Trevon Moehring, not much seems to have changed, whereas the Giants have beefed up their aerial attack.
Week 10: Bye
The Giants get their annual in-season break in the middle of perhaps the toughest stretch on their schedule.
Week 11, November 22, at Tampa Bay Buccaneers (MNF): WIN
The third scheduled primetime game comes against the defending Super Bowl champions, a team that last year the Giants hung tough with, only to have mistakes doom them yet again (that game also played on Monday night). This time around, though, things should be different as the Giants, fresh off the bye, look to finish the second half of the season strong.
Week 12, November 28, vs. Philadelphia Eagles: WIN
The Giants won't admit it, but they have a score to settle with their "friends" down the Turnpike, especially after they threw the last regular-season game of the year (despite what the former head coach claimed) and after the Eagles leapfrogged ahead of the Giants to swipe Alabama receiver out from under the Giants' nose. Look for the Giants to leave it all on the field against the Eagles.
Week 13, December 5, at Miami Dolphins: LOSS
There's always one surprise that pops up over the course of a season. Last year it was the Giants upsetting the Seattle Seahawks, a pleasant surprise indeed. This year, that game could be this one, especially if the Giants pull out an emotional win against the Eagles the week prior.
Week 14, December 12, at Los Angeles Chargers: LOSS
The Chargers were one of two teams that an Eli Manning-led Giants team could never beat. Although this is a new era of Giants football, quarterback Justin Herbert is a rising star that can do what all good franchise quarterbacks can do, which is load the team on his back and carry them to the finish line.
Week 15, December 19, vs. Dallas Cowboys: WIN
The days of the Cowboys sweeping the Giants are over (we hope). The Giants, with their backs against the wall and needing to win at least two of their remaining three games against the NFC East, will get it done in this one.
Week 16, December 26, at Philadelphia Eagles: LOSS
There's something about "the Linc" (Lincoln Financial Field) that doesn't seem to mesh with the Giants. Simply put, that building has been a house of horrors for the Giants over the last several years. The Giants, who haven't won in Philly since 2013, have suffered some of their worst moments at the Linc. The Giants can beat the Eagles at home, but if you're looking for New York to sweep the season series for the first time since 2007, this probably won't be the year.
Week 17, January 2, at Chicago Bears: WIN
The Bears owe the Giants first- and fourth-round draft picks in 2022. If that's not enough motivation for Giants to take full advantage of Chicago's rookie quarterback, Justin Fields, and the rest of Chicago's rebuilding franchise, then how about finishing the season on a high note, especially ahead of what could come down to the NFC East title with the defending division champs the following week?
Week 18, January 9, vs. Washington Football Team: WIN
By now, hopefully, the Giants will have won more games than they did a year ago. Still, to ensure they finish with a record above .500 and a wild card berth, they need to take care of business at home against Washington, something they should be able to do at this point, given all that stands to be at stake.
Final Predictions: 9-8 overall, 3-3 in NFC East. Wild Card Berth