Okay, having only 16 games and 13 opponents may make five a little excessive, especially in the case of the Giants who will play at least two huge games this year and, quite frankly, every year when they matchup against Dallas and Philadelphia.
But which of the two games between each team is more significant? And besides the usual division opponents, what are the games that ultimately might decide the Giants’ fate?
Jan. 3 at Minnesota
Just like last season, the Giants will finish their season in Minnesota. With nothing to play for, the Giants lost on a last-second field goal to the Vikings, thus extending Eli’s personal losing streak to Minnesota to 0-3. Once again, playoff positions may already be secured and nothing to gain. But for Eli, it’ll be a personal victory to beat a team who really has embarrassed him in previous meetings.
Oct. 25 vs. Arizona
In a battle of the last two Conference Champions, the Giants will want to prove that they were the NFC’s best and should have been the team facing the Steelers in the Super Bowl. It’ll be an even more interesting matchup if current Cardinals receiver Anquan Boldin gets his wish for a trade and ends up in New York.
Okay, okay, that’s wishful thinking on my part. But even without the trade, it’ll be interesting to see the all-star Cardinals wide outs face off against the Giants defense.
On the other side, we’ll get to see a boorish Cardinals defense against a Giants offense that was its Achilles heel last season.
Nov. 8 vs. San Diego
Some people don’t remember this, but Eli Manning was actually drafted by the San Diego Chargers. It was his reluctance to play for them that resulted in a trade to New York. When he made his first appearance in San Diego in 2005, the fans wouldn’t let him forget how he scorned them. In fact, Tiki Barber gave a memorable sound bite commenting on the boos by saying, “They forget we play in Philadelphia every year.”
The Chargers wound up blowing out the Giants, but Big Blue has definitely gotten the last laugh recently. This time it will be in Giants Stadium so it might not have as much drama as when Eli physically played in San Diego won’t have as much drama as when Eli physically went to San Diego. But it will still have Philip Rivers on the other end, the man the Giants drafted and then traded to San Diego for Manning.
So far the Giants have come out ahead in the deal, but Rivers will definitely try to remind everyone that it’s not over yet.
Sept. 20 at Dallas
Okay, so what makes this game stand out more than the meeting they will have later in the season?
First of all, it is in Dallas, where the Giants ended the Cowboys 2007 postseason on their way to the Super Bowl.
Second, it will be a prime time game and a chance to show the world what kind of team they are, especially on the road.
Third, it’ll be the second game of the season, and the first of three consecutive road games for the G-Men, and perhaps the key to them getting off to a fast start.
But most of all, this is one of the places the Giants lost during their final month debacle last season. They were kept out of the end zone as the Cowboys kept their playoff hopes alive. Sure, they eventually faltered, but so did the Giants.
Dec. 13 vs. Philadelphia
Yes, they will play the Eagles in Philadelphia before this late-season game and playoff fates may already be decided. But, it was at home that the Giants lost to the Eagles in December, which began a domino-like effect that resulted in them losing four out of their last five, culminating with the Eagles beating them at home again in the postseason.
The Giants have won four straight on the road in Philly, but have trouble with them at home. Then again, having trouble at home is textbook for the G-Men.