Final Win-Loss Predictions for New York Giants' 2017 Schedule
Training camp is in the books, preseason is done, and although tweaks are still being made to the 53-man roster, the New York Giants are just days away from kicking off their regular season.
Now that we have a clearer idea as to how the rosters of the Giants and their opponents look, let's make one final season-long prediction as to how the team might fare in their second year under head coach Ben McAdoo.
Week 1: @ Dallas
Stop me if you've heard this before, but the Giants will again be opening the regular-season campaign on the road against the Dallas Cowboys.
Whereas the Giants are mostly healthy and much improved, the same cannot be said of the Cowboys, who have some serious issues on their roster, namely in the form of suspended players.
Per SportsDay, the Cowboys will be without defensive ends David Irving, Damontre Moore and Randy Gregory. There is also the question over whether running back Ezekiel Elliott, who was given a six-game suspension but is fighting that through the courts, will be available.
If the Giants offense is looking for a fast start, this could be the game to get it going and to build confidence.
As for Elliott, given that the Giants defense that mostly dominated Dallas last season is returning intact, there should be little reason to worry about the NFC East champs in the regular-season opener.
Prediction: Giants 38, Cowboys 17
Week 2: Detroit
Much as was the case in the spring, the Lions still have question marks in the pit. Tackle Taylor Decker is opening the year on the PUP list.
The Lions have had trouble solidifying the left guard spot, while on the other side of the line, T.J. Lang is still working his way back from hip surgery, though per the Detroit News, he finally appears to be over the hump.
On the defensive line, there's a good chance that at least one—if not two—undrafted rookies, Jeremiah Valoaga or Alex Barrett, could be getting the call to start against the Giants.
As a side note, the Giants will be honoring the 2007 Super Bowl championship team, whose members are likely to visit with the 2017 team in the days leading up to that game.
If that doesn't provide Big Blue with a little extra motivation, then someone needs to check the current Giants team for a pulse.
Prediction: Giants 31, Lions 16
Week 3: @ Philadelphia
For whatever the reason over the last three seasons, the Giants have saved one of their worst performances of the year for Lincoln Financial Field.
Over that span, New York has been ripped to shreds by the Eagles, their division rivals, by a combined score of 78-26.
Although the Giants' defensive secondary matches up well with the Eagles passing game—receivers Torrey Smith and Alshon Jeffrey—this game could well come down to the battle in the pit.
There, the inconsistent Giants offensive line will face the likes of defensive ends Chris Long and Brandon Graham, and defensive tackles Fletcher Cox and Timmy Jernigan.
Unless the Giants' offensive line, particularly the interior, starts playing more consistently by this point, that's a matchup which doesn't favor them.
Prediction: Eagles 30, Giants 23
Week 4: @ Tampa Bay
The Giants go back on the road for a Week 4 game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, a team they have beaten in the last five meetings, including postseason.
This Bucs team, though, is vastly improved since the last time they met in November 2015, a 32-18 Giants win.
Quarterback Jameis Winston increased his already impressive season numbers from 2015 to 2016; this preseason in two games, he completed 38 of 56 pass attempts for 396 yards, no touchdowns and one interception while suffering four sacks.
The Bucs added receiver DeSean Jackson to complement Mike Evans. They also added tight end O.J. Howard in the draft, the prized rookie who—while not exactly lighting things up in the preseason as a receiver—figures to be an integral part of the Bucs offense both as a receiver and as a run-blocker.
Defensively, the Bucs added former Broncos safety T.J. Ward to a defensive backfield that includes starting corners, Vernon Hargreaves and Brent Grimes.
Hargreaves, named as one of NFL.com's Ike Taylor's rising defensive players, noted that the game has slowed down for the second-year player, who is playing with far more confidence than he did as a rookie.
In four preseason games, that trend showed no sign of slowing down; the Bucs were penalized 35 times for 248 yards. They can probably beat anyone, but not if they're going to keep beating themselves.
The Giants will stand toe-to-toe with the Bucs in this one, but in the end something unexpected is going to go against them.
Prediction: Bucs 28, Giant 24
Week 5: Los Angeles
Right now, there's probably not a more snakebitten team than the Los Angeles Chargers.
They have already lost promising rookie guard Forrest Lamp and outside linebacker Joshua Perry to season-ending injuries.
Rookie receiver Mike Williams (back) is still at least a couple of weeks away from returning to the practice field, according to ESPN's Eric D. Williams, who also reported inside linebacker Denzel Perryman is "a couple of months" away from returning to practice following ankle surgery; he is likely headed to the injured reserve list, where he can be brought back after eight weeks.
The marquee matchup in this game figures to be pass-rushers Joey Bosa and Melvin Ingram against Giants offensive tackles Ereck Flowers and Bobby Hart.
Chargers safety Jahleel Addae praised the Bosa-Ingram duo, saying, "They're arguably the best pass-rushing tandem in the league. One strip sacks, and the other one picks it up and scores. You can't put that out there any better."
(Jason Pierre-Paul and Olivier Vernon of the Giants might disagree, but I digress.)
This year, Hart and Flowers don't have to go at it alone should one or both of Ingram and Bosa be too much to handle.
The Giants, in their decision to go "heavy-handed," as head coach Ben McAdoo might say, have three solid blocking tight ends in Rhett Ellison, Jerell Adams and Matt LaCosse, plus fullback Shane Smith to provide help if necessary to slow down the rush.
As a side note, this might be the last chance for Eli Manning, the Chargers No. 1 draft pick in 2004 before he was shipped to the Giants for Philip Rivers, to beat the team that initially drafted him.
Prediction: Giants 28, Chargers 20
Week 6: @ Denver
The Broncos quarterback situation might still need to be sorted out, but if Denver takes a page out of the Giants book from last year in which New York leaned heavily on its Von Miller-led defense to get the job done while the offense struggled, Denver just might have a chance.
It also helps that the Broncos, who have one of the league's best defensive secondaries, are the home team in this one.
In the regular-season series in which the two teams have met 11 times so far, Denver has won four of the five games when scheduled as the home team.
Prediction: Broncos 27, Giants 13
Week 7: Seattle
The Giants will host a refreshed Seahawks team coming off a Week 6 bye, but Seattle must still make the cross-country trip to the Meadowlands for the game.
Per Football Outsiders, Seattle has been a top-five unit every year since 2012 and added firepower to an already strong defense when they acquired Sheldon Richardson from the Jets. He will flank left defensive end Michael Bennett to give the Seahawks one of the best front sevens in the league.
If that group can break down the Giants offensive line, it will be a long afternoon for Eli Manning and company. Meanwhile, the Seahawks offense might not have Marshawn Lynch anymore, but the duo of Thomas Rawls and Eddie Lacy have the potential to wear down a defense.
This has the makings of being a close game for the Giants, who just might fall short of the mark as they head into their own bye.
Prediction: Seahawks 23, Giants 21
Week 8: Bye
The Giants have a Week 8 bye.
Week 9: Los Angeles
The Rams have 99 problems, and perhaps the biggest one as I write is the continued holdout by defensive tackle Aaron Donald.
While one would like to think Donald and the Rams will have resolved their differences over his contract by the time they roll into the Meadowlands to face the Giants, the fact remains he missed all of training camp under first-year head coach Sean McVay.
The longer his holdout drags into the regular season, the farther behind the eight ball he might find himself in the team's defense.
On the offensive side of the ball, second-year quarterback Jared Goff—also trying to become familiar with a new coaching staff and system—has looked no closer to becoming a consistent passer in his second year than he did as a rookie, even though he completed 75 percent of his pass attempts (24 of 32) this preseason.
Perhaps by this point in the season, Goff will have settled down and eliminated some of the head-scratching decisions he made late in preseason action. If not, then he and his teammates are in for a long afternoon at MetLife Stadium.
Prediction: Giants 37, Rams 17
Week 10: @ San Francisco
The 49ers have a new coaching staff and a new starting quarterback, Brian Hoyer, who has yet to play a 16-game season but did thrive in Cleveland when 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan was the Browns' offensive coordinator.
With that said, the 49ers have only begun their rebuilding process. They're going to win more games this year than the two they claimed last season, but they're a work in progress and their offense isn't likely to hold up against the Giants defense.
Prediction: Giants 31, 49ers 13
Week 11: Kansas City
Old friend Andy Reid and the Kansas City Chiefs roll into the Meadowlands fresh off their Week 10 bye.
Historically, Reid has had the Giants' number, dating back to his time with the Eagles and through his first season with the Chiefs, going 18-14 in both regular-season and playoff games against Big Blue.
In fact, the last time these two teams met, Reid and the Chiefs got the better of the Giants, in a 31-7 victory in 2013 that snapped a four-game New York winning streak in this series dating back to 1998.
The Chiefs still list Alex Smith as their starting quarterback, but if they get off to a slow start, it wouldn't be surprising if Patrick Mahomes lines up under center by the time the Chiefs come to town.
Still, despite Reid's prowess over the Giants, if Big Blue is relatively healthy, they should be able to hold off the Chiefs.
Prediction: Giants 21, Chiefs 19
Week 12: @ Washington
The Giants pay a Thanksgiving night visit to Washington, a team against whom they have split the last two regular-season series.
There are bound to be several side stories within this game, such as Odell Beckham Jr. vs. CB Josh Norman, and Giants CB Janoris Jenkins vs. Washington WR Terrelle Pryor.
If the Giants can control themselves and not be baited into any extracurricular activity, they should come out on top against a Washington team that, other than for quarterback Kirk Cousins, is a question mark.
Prediction: Giants 28, Washington 24
Week 13: @ Oakland
If the Giants are to have any chance of topping to Oakland Raiders, they need to do three things.
The first is to figure out how to slow down league MVP Khalil Mack, who posted 11 sacks last year. He primarily lined up at left outside linebacker for the Raiders, which means he will face the right side of the Giants offense line which will hopefully have settled down by this point in the season.
The second thing is to figure out how to use the Raiders' aggressiveness against them. Per Team Rankings, Oakland posted a league-high 9.1 penalties per game in 2016.
The third thing is to slow down running back Marshawn Lynch, who returns to the NFL with a new team this year.
Since 2007, Lynch has faced the Giants five times, once with Buffalo and the other four as a member of the Seahawks. He has averaged 5.17 yards per carry.
Those three things aren't out of the question, but it won't be an easy task, especially considering it will have to be done on the road.
Prediction: Raiders 33, Giants 28
Week 14: Dallas
With the division race starting to heat up, the Cowboys should have all their suspended players back on the field on defense by this game.
It probably won't matter, as the Cowboys will likely lean on their offense to get them back into the tournament.
And as we saw last year and will hopefully see in Week 1, the Giants defense seems to have the Cowboys offense's number right now, though.
Prediction: Giants 38, Cowboys 30
Week 15: Philadelphia
With playoff positions on the line, the Giants, who have split the regular-season series with the Eagles in two of the last four years since 2013, will do so again—much to the delight of their home crowd.
The Eagles always play the Giants tough at MetLife Stadium, the last three games being decided by eight or fewer points.
With the home crowd behind them, the Giants will prevail in a game that will help strengthen their quest for a postseason berth.
Prediction: Giants 28, Eagles 23
Week 16: @ Arizona
In the last four meetings between these two teams, the visitors have emerged victorious. If you're looking for history to repeat itself, though, it might not be that simple.
The Giants prescribe to a theory where they never look ahead and don't look back. However, if they manage to eke out consecutive wins against the Cowboys and Eagles, they could fly into Arizona on Christmas Eve overconfident and find themselves in the proverbial trap game.
Prediction: Cardinals 27, Giants 10
Week 17: Washington
Having gotten the letdown loss out of their system the previous week, the Giants close out their 2017 regular-season campaign with a win and a regular-season series sweep over Washington in what should be a final tuneup for the playoffs.
History would appear to be on their side. Since 2008, the Giants have won 13 of the 18 regular-season games played. They will also go into this game remembering how last year they took Washington for granted in what turned out to be a 27-19 upset at home.
Prediction: Giants 30, Washington 20
2017 Final Record
The Giants' attempts to top last year's 11-5 mark will fall short by one game, as I have them going 10-6. However, I do have them going 5-1 in the division, with sweeps against the Cowboys and Washington.
I also have New York getting back into the playoffs as the NFC East winner. Their biggest competition will be the Cowboys, but if the Giants manage to sweep the season series, that should help them win the division if the two teams end up with similar records.
Patricia Traina covers the New York Giants for Inside Football, the Journal Inquirer and Sports Xchange. All quotes and information were obtained firsthand unless otherwise sourced.