New York Giants: Updated Game-by-Game Outlook for 2012
It's been a wild start to the 2012 season for the New York Giants, who have seen some exciting highs chased by precipitous lows. While the defending Super Bowl champs continue to grapple with consistency, the rest of the NFL continues to sort itself out, with some surprising contenders emerging from the rubble.
Preseason predictions can be thrown aside, as some of Big Blue's toughest opponents have looked sluggish through Week 5, while some expected trap games are quickly becoming top showdowns.
Check out an updated schedule breakdown for the Giants, starting with Sunday's clash in San Francisco.
Week 6: Giants at 49ers
This game's looking tougher every week, as San Francisco's been nothing short of dominant through the first quarter of the season.
After touting a subpar offense last year, the Niners have been lighting up scoreboards in 2012. San Francisco tops the NFL in total rushing, while QB Alex Smith has posted a 108.7 quarterback rating, tossing just one interception in five weeks.
The 49ers notched a franchise-best 621 yards of offense against Buffalo last Sunday, while the Niners' defense has allowed just three points in its last eight quarters of football.
It's tough to argue against Jim Harbaugh's crew being the best in the pros right now. Sunday's game could be a struggle if New York's pass rush can't find a way to break up the pocket.
Key Matchup: RB Frank Gore vs. Giants' front seven
Week 7: Redskins at Giants
True, the Giants lost both of their games against Washington last year, but many saw this season's clashes with the 'Skins as easy wins.
With rookie quarterback Robert Griffin III transitioning so well, however, these games will certainly not be a cake walk.
The Redskins boast a strong outside running game, with both Griffin and fellow rookie Alfred Morris notching four touchdown runs this year. Wideout Pierre Garcon continues to push past a foot injury, and Washington's front seven has allowed over 100 rushing yards just once this year.
The Redskins continue to struggle in the secondary, and the Giants intercepted dual-threat QB Cam Newton three times back in Week 3. Still, Griffin III and Co. could make some noise on offense, and this certainly isn't a guaranteed win just yet.
Key Matchup: Giants' contain defense vs. QB Robert Griffin III
Week 8: Giants at Cowboys
While the G-Men struggled to slow Dallas' passing game in Week 1, Romo and the Cowboys seem to have lost their edge through the air of late.
As New York's offensive line continues to shore up on the edge, DeMarcus Ware and the Dallas defense looks a bit less daunting. Corners Brandon Carr and Morris Claiborne have turned around the Cowboys' secondary, but the emergence of the Giants' running game last week offers a much more balanced offense than the one seen on opening night.
The Giants/Cowboys rivalry always offers up close games, and this one should be no different. Let's see if Romo can cut down the turnovers between now and Week 8.
Key Matchup: WRs Miles Austin and Dez Bryant vs. New York's secondary
Week 9: Steelers at Giants
Without starting running back Rashard Mendenhall, Pittsburgh's ground game has been averaging less than 75 yards a week, while the offensive line has continued to be a question mark.
The Steelers are still sixth in the league in total defense, and Eli Manning could be in for a long day going against a stacked secondary that includes Ryan Clark, Troy Polamalu and Ike Taylor. Still, this offense is becoming dangerously one-dimensional, and it looks like the Giants picked the right year to play Pittsburgh.
Key Matchup: Giants' pass rush vs. Pittsburgh's offensive line
Week 10: Giants at Bengals
At 3-2, Cincinnati's looking on par with preseason expectations. With the Giants' recent struggles in vertical pass defense, however, a game against the A.J. Green-bearing Bengals gets a whole lot tougher.
The Bengals haven't done anything particularly poorly in 2012, ranking 11th in the league in total passing, 15th in total rushing and 18th in total defense. Still, there's nothing overwhelming about this matchup, even on the road.
Cincy's wins have come against opponents with a combined 3-12 record thus far. QB Andy Dalton has already thrown six picks, and if the Giants can maintain their rushing attack, they'll have the clear-cut offensive edge here.
Key Matchup: WR A.J. Green vs. New York's pass defense
Week 11: Bye
Week 12: Packers at Giants
The Packers have been one of 2012's biggest underachievers, with just one net point through five games. While QB Aaron Rodgers still leads a dynamic passing attack, this is far from the Green Bay team that went 15-1 a year ago.
The Packers continue to search for a consistent running game after losing RB Cedric Benson to a foot injury last week. Green Bay's offensive line has already allowed a whopping 21 sacks, and its defense was burned for 27 second-half points to the Colts in Week 5.
Both WRs Greg Jennings and Jordy Nelson have had disappointing stat lines thus far, while Jennings, DT B.J. Raji and TE Jermichael Finley have all had to deal with injuries. We certainly don't know what the Pack will look like in late November, but for now, this game has to favor the Giants.
Key Matchup: WR Greg Jennings vs. CB Corey Webster
Week 13: Giants at Redskins
On the road, under the lights of Monday Night Football, topping RGIII and the Redskins won't be an easy task. The Giants will get their first taste of Washington in Week 7.
Key Matchup: Giants' edge defense vs. Griffin and RB Alfred Morris' outside running game.
Week 14: Saints at Giants
New Orleans is reeling in a post-"Bountygate" slide, starting the season with a paltry 1-4 mark. The Saints have allowed more points than anyone in the NFC and offer one of the weakest defensive front lines in all of football.
The Saints can still air it out behind quarterback Drew Brees, which could be a problem for New York's underperforming pass defense.
Still, New Orleans has allowed over 280 yards a game to opposing QBs, and Eli Manning should have a huge day at home.
Initially seen as one of the most challenging games on Big Blue's schedule, Week 14's clash with the Saints is looking very winnable. The offseason loss of guard Carl Nicks has the O-line in a flux, and New Orleans will need a better running game going forward.
Key Matchup: WRs Victor Cruz and Hakeem Nicks vs. New Orleans' secondary
Week 15: Giants at Falcons
The 5-0 Falcons have come out shooting, ranking eighth in the league in total passing while holding opposing quarterbacks to just over 200 yards a game. Behind speedy wideouts Julio Jones and Roddy White, Atlanta touts a fast-paced, dynamic offense that the Giants will surely struggle with.
Atlanta's defense hasn't fared well against the run, but this still remains one of the most balanced teams in football. Few could have guessed that the Falcons would have as many wins as the Packers, Saints and Steelers combined.
Playing in the Georgia Dome, this surprisingly emerges as the Giants' toughest game of the year. QB Matt Ryan has thrown at least two touchdowns in every game this season and went for 345 yards last week in Washington.
Key Matchup: WR Roddy White vs. CB Corey Webster
Week 16: Giants at Ravens
Talk about a doozy of a two weeks.
The Giants hit the road to play the Ravens after taking on Atlanta. Sitting at 4-1, Baltimore's allowed just 89 points in five games, while halfback Ray Rice has averaged 5.2 yards a carry.
The Ravens have exceeded expectations on offense while maintaining a physical D. It's interesting to note, though, that the team's past three wins have come by a combined 11 points.
It has not been a huge surprise that the Ravens have been one of the NFL's best teams, and this game will likely have major playoff implications.
Key Matchup: New York's offensive line vs. Baltimore's front seven
Week 17: Eagles at Giants
The Eagles took a nail-biter back in Week 4, edging Big Blue by a 19-17 mark. Come December, this team will likely look a whole lot different.
QB Michael Vick has been spewing out turnovers, but RB LeSean McCoy has kept Philly's offense anchored, while the pass defense has been surprisingly solid thus far.
The key in Week 4's clash was New York's inability to contain the outside. Come Week 17, with temperatures free-falling, that will likely be the story again.