New York Giants 2012 Schedule: Game-by-Game Predictions, Info and Analysis

Jeff Shull@Jeff_ShullAnalyst IApril 18, 2012

New York Giants 2012 Schedule: Game-by-Game Predictions, Info and Analysis

0 of 17

    The NFL released its full schedule on Tuesday, giving the world yet another sign that we are inching closer and closer to the 2012 season. 

    If you're anything like me, you love it when the schedule is released because you can get an idea of how your team will perform in the upcoming season. 

    For the New York Giants, it is going to be a tough road highlighted yet again by a murderer's row second half. After their bye in Week 11, the Giants face the Green Bay Packers, Washington Redskins, New Orleans Saints, Atlanta Falcons, Baltimore Ravens, and Philadelphia Eagles

    Only two of those teams (Eagles and Redskins) did not make the playoffs in 2011, but both figure to be much better in 2012. 

    Here is my full game-by-game prediction for the Giants in 2012.  

Week 1: Cowboys at Giants

1 of 17

    Wednesday Sept. 5, 8:30 ET, NBC

    In an unprecedented move, this game will held on a Wednesday in order to avoid President Obama's speech at the Democratic Convention.

    The Giants and Cowboys met twice in the final four weeks of the 2011 season, the fate of both games holding the NFC East crown on the line. 

    The Giants were able to sweep the Cowboys and sneak into the playoffs, which was just the motivation they needed to go on and make a Super Bowl run.

    Despite losing players like Brandon Jacobs and Mario Manningham, I expect the Giants to be just as dominant offensively in 2012. Eli Manning has emerged as an elite quarterback and will be able to move the ball against this Dallas defense. 

    However, the addition of Brandon Carr will make things a bit tougher than they were in 2011. Terrence Newman covered Victor Cruz in the season finale and did a terrible job of it. Don't expect things to come as easy as they did in that game. 

    It is difficult to predict these matchups before the draft, but if both teams improve on their weaknesses, it should be a close affair. 

    I'll give the Giants the edge based on the home-field advantage, and the fact that the defending Super Bowl champs are 8-0 in the years the NFL has put them in the opener.

    Positional Matchup to Watch 

    Watch the previously discussed matchup between Brandon Carr and Victor Cruz. Carr had some choice words for Cruz shortly after he signed his lucrative deal with the Cowboys. It could get ugly. 

    Prediction: Cowboys 23, Giants 27 

Week 2: Buccaneers at Giants

2 of 17

    Sunday Sept. 16, 1:00 ET, FOX

    The Tampa Bay Buccaneers were hard at work this offseason at getting new head coach Greg Schiano some big time players. 

    They signed high profile free agents Vincent Jackson and Carl Nicks and also have the fifth pick in the 2012 NFL draft. 

    They are going to be a much different team next season. 

    That said, the Buccaneers were awful defensively in 2011, finishing third to last in total yards, and were the only team to average more than 30 points per game allowed, ending the year at 30.9. 

    Eli Manning should carve them up, and this game will end in blowout fashion. 

    Positional Matchup to Watch: 

    Check out newly signed Martellus Bennett possibly having to block his twin brother Michael Bennett in the trenches. Brotherly love? I sure hope not.  

    Prediction: Bucs 23, Giants 34

Week 3: Giants at Panthers

3 of 17

    Thursday Sept. 20, 8:20 ET, NFL Network

    The Giants will have their work cut out for them on their first road trip of the season. They travel to Carolina to take on 2011 offensive rookie of the year Cam Newton and his Panthers

    Newton took the league by storm right out of the gates in 2011, throwing for over 400 yards in his first-ever start. 

    He ended up having a terrific season, setting the record for rushing touchdowns by a quarterback. 

    Having said that, the Giants' best strength is their defensive line, which should be able to contain the former Auburn sensation. 

    Not to mention the Panthers were atrocious defensively last season. Should they take a dominant defensive tackle like Dontari Poe or Fletcher Cox with their top-10 pick, it could definitely change the dynamic of this game. 

    This has the potential to be a very close game, but expect the Giants to take care of business in the end. 

    Positional Matchup to Watch

    Watch how successful Corey Webster is covering explosive wide receiver Steve Smith. Smith is the Panthers' most dangerous weapon on the outside, and he and Newton had great chemistry in year one. It could be even better in 2012. 

    Prediction: Giants 24, Panthers 20

Week 4: Giants at Eagles

4 of 17

    Sunday Sept. 30, 8:20 ET, NBC

    The second divisional game of the season comes on the road at the Philadelphia Eagles. The Eagles and Giants split their contests in 2011, with each underdog winning the matchup on the road. 

    It was a very strange series in 2011, to say the least. The Eagles were the dream team expected to do great things yet lost to the Giants in Week 3, then the Giants were on a roll and lost to the Eagles despite them starting backup QB Vince Young in their Week 11 matchup.

    Both of these teams despise one another, and it is very difficult to get a read on what may happen. Eli Manning, for some odd reason, usually plays well when they make the trip to Philly.

    However, the Eagles played very well down the stretch last season and could carry over that momentum with a year of chemistry under their belts.

    This will be the Giants' first loss of the season.

    Positional Matchup to Watch: 

    Watch newly signed Eagle Demetress Bell try to block the potent right end combination of Jason Pierre-Paul and Osi Umenyiora. Though it's not as important because Michael Vick is left handed, Bell will still have to hold them off, especially if Vick tries to move to his left and make a play with his feet.  

    Prediction: Giants 21, Eagles 23 

Week 5: Browns at Giants

5 of 17

    Sunday Oct. 7, 1:00 ET, CBS

    This will be one of the few "easy" games for the Giants in 2012. When the Browns lost out to the Redskins on the Robert Griffin sweepstakes, it basically assured that they will have another dismal season bottom feeding in the AFC North. 

    The Browns are a tough defensive team but will take a while to develop offensively, even if they improve with their two first round picks in the draft. 

    The Giants should not lose this game at home.

    Positional Matchup to Watch

    Joe Thomas versus Jason Pierre-Paul is going to be a spectacle for those who love interior play. Both are terrific young talents who are considered some of the best at their position.  

    Prediction: Browns 9, Giants 27

Week 6: Giants at 49ers

6 of 17

    Sunday Oct. 14, 4:15 ET, FOX

    The Giants will face five separate teams they played twice in 2011: obviously their three divisional opponents, but also the San Francisco 49ers and Green Bay Packers, whom they defeated on the road to the Super Bowl. 

    The Giants amazingly lost both regular season matchups to the Packers and 49ers, but turned around to blowout the Pack and sneak out an OT win in the NFC Championship. 

    The 49ers host the Giants and will be on a mission to exact revenge on the champs. The big hitting 49ers were 13-3 last season and went a long way to improve their team by signing two former Giants, among many of their own free agents. 

    They should be better offensively, which is a scary thought considering how good they are on defense. The Giants will be out-matched in this game, losing their second of the season. 

    Positional Matchup to Watch: 

    Watch how the Giants' corners match up against their former teammate Mario Manningham and newly signed receiver Randy Moss. The 49ers were very bad last year in the red zone, and adding these two targets could help their ineptitude in the passing game from a year ago. 

    Prediction: Giants 17, 49ers 24

Week 7: Redskins at Giants

7 of 17

    Sunday Oct. 21, 1:00 ET, FOX

    Is it a secret that the Washington Redskins are going to take Robert Griffin III in the 2012 NFL Draft? Unless the Colts make one of the biggest surprise moves in draft history, they are going to take Andrew Luck, leaving Griffin to the Redskins. 

    The Redskins were a thorn in the Giants' side in 2011, forcing the Giants into two of their worst played games of the season. 

    Assuming they take Griffin, they will likely improve offensively as Griffin is one of the more electrifying quarterbacks to come out in a long time. He is Michael Vick with more quarterback than runner in him. 

    That's a scary thought. 

    The Giants had won the previous six meetings against the Redskins before losing the last two, and it is hard to get a read on how good the Redskins can be with Griffin. 

    Given that this is still in the first half and the Giants can hopefully contain Griffin with their arsenal of pass rushers, they should fluster the rookie into making a crucial mistake or two. 

    Positional Matchup to Watch

    The Giants' front five versus the Redskins' defensive front seven. The Redskins dominated this matchup in both contests last season, which is why the Giants need to upgrade their offensive line pronto. 

    Prediction: Redskins 13, Giants 17

Week 8: Giants at Cowboys

8 of 17

    Sunday Oct. 28, 4:15 ET, FOX

    The second matchup between the two teams will be just as much of a dog fight as the first, only this time it's not in front of a national audience. 

    With Rob Ryan getting a new toy (Brandon) Carr to play with, he should be able to get this Cowboys' defense playing better in 2011. 

    It will be hard to exploit the secondary as Eli Manning did in both matchups last year, so if the Giants want to sweep the Cowboys they'd better find their run game. 

    I don't see that happening overnight, and I seriously doubt the Giants sweep again. 

    Positional Matchup to Watch

    Continue to watch Carr versus Victor Cruz, but also pay attention to Martellus Bennett going against his former team in Dallas. The Cowboys will have to put a linebacker on him, and perhaps Bennett can exploit that matchup. 

    Prediction: Giants 24, Cowboys 30

    (5-3 at the halfway point. Hopefully they do better than that because it gets worse from here.)

Week 9: Steelers at Giants

9 of 17

    Sunday Nov. 4, 4:15 ET, CBS 

    Year in and year out, the Pittsburgh Steelers are one of the toughest teams to play in the NFL. The matchup between these two is not much of a rivalry, but given they're in close proximity to one another, fans will have a vested interest for bragging rights. 

    This is an interesting matchup as the Giants were one of the more finesse teams in the NFL last season, and the Steelers have a reputation for being tough. 

    What is going to give? Can the Giants air it out on the Steelers? Can the Steelers pound the rock on the Giants' average run defense? 

    Judging by the two teams as they are now, it is very hard for me to give the Giants an edge, even with the game being at home. 

    Positional Matchup to Watch

    Assuming Mike Wallace is signed to a long-term deal, watch for Wallace on Giants defensive back Corey Webster. Wallace is one of the best deep threats in the league, and the Giants had one of the worst pass defenses in 2011. 

    Prediction: Steelers 23, Giants 13

Week 10: Giants at Bengals

10 of 17

    Sunday Nov. 11, 1:00 ET, FOX

    Andy Dalton impressed everyone across the league with his ability to lead the Bengals to the playoffs. They lost in the first round to the Houston Texans, but they went further than anyone could have expected. 

    In 2012, teams will be ready and prepared for a better team. Incredibly, the Giants have never won in Cincinnati in five tries there. Hopefully it will be sixth time's the charm. 

    The Bengals are very solid defensively and have a great QB-WR combination with Dalton and fellow 2011 draft pick A.J. Green. In order to win this game, the Giants will have to force the Bengals into some mistakes, which they did little of in 2011. 

    The Bengals also have two first-round picks in 2012, so their team could have a different feel after next weekend. Many believe they will upgrade their offensive line to run the ball more efficiently. 

    If they make strides on offense, they close in on being one of the most complete teams in the NFL. That said, they have a long way to go to be considered an offensive juggernaut. 

    The Giants' defensive line should be able to frustrate Dalton, force some mistakes and put this game away early.

    Positional Matchup to Watch 

    A.J. Green versus Corey Webster. I've been picking Webster a ton because he's going to face some top-tier wide receivers this season, and Green's ability to make big plays opens up the Bengals offensively. 

    Prediction: Giants 21, Bengals 16

Week 12: Packers at Giants

11 of 17

    Sunday Nov. 25, 8:20 ET, NBC

    The Packers were another team the Giants faced twice last year outside of their division. The regular-season matchup was an exciting back and forth affair that saw Aaron Rodgers rip the hearts out of Giants fans with a late, game-winning drive. 

    The playoff matchup was one dominated by the Giants as they forced the Packers into multiple uncharacteristic mistakes. That matchup proved what a healthy defensive line could have meant for the Giants all season long. 

    I expect this Sunday Night Football spectacle to be everything fans will want and more: lots of offense, lots of points, and late game heroics. 

    Getting Terrell Thomas back is great for a matchup like this, and he'll make a big play to change the outlook of the game. 

    Eli Manning will win the game late with a touchdown pass to Jerrel Jernigan. 

    Positional Matchup to Watch

    Both secondaries versus both wide receiver corps. Each of these teams were terrible against the pass in the regular season, with the Packers setting a record for most yards allowed in a single season. Whichever wide receiver group can get the better of the DBs will win the game for their team. 

    Prediction: Packers 31, Giants 38

Week 13: Giants at Redskins

12 of 17

    Monday Dec. 3, 8:30 ET, ESPN 

    The Giants' only Monday Night Football game of the season comes against their divisional rival Washington Redskins. 

    In the second matchup between these two teams, I expect the Redskins to be a bit more polished offensively and Robert Griffin III to feed off his home crowd on a national stage. 

    He has the "It" factor, and it will be on display for all to see.  

    Positional Matchup to Watch

    The most important is still the Giants' offensive front versus the Redskins' defensive front, but keep an eye on Fred Davis versus the Giants linebackers. Davis has emerged as a very talented receiver and could develop some chemistry with Griffin.

    Prediction: Giants 20, Redskins 30 

Week 14: Saints at Giants

13 of 17

    Sunday Dec. 9, 4:15 ET, FOX

    The New Orleans Saints shocked the NFL when it was uncovered they were running a bounty program under the guidance of their defensive coordinator, Gregg Williams. Not only did head coach Sean Payton know about it, but he deliberately covered it up and kept on allowing it to happen after the NFL told them to stop. 

    They are paying for it with suspensions for both coaches and (soon) players and will likely feel the repercussions of their actions during this season.  

    Drew Brees is a great quarterback, but Sean Payton ran the show, and that offense is going to miss him. 

    The Giants have been blown out the previous two times they've played the Saints (you better believe they were rooting for the 49ers in that playoff game), and they now have their chance for revenge outside the Super Dome in New Orleans. 

    The Saints are a worse team on the road and will be a worse team in 2012. The Giants will win this game easily. Mark my words. 

    Positional Matchup to Watch 

    Interim coach Joe Vitt versus Tom Coughlin. OK, so this isn't a positional matchup, but it will be interesting to watch how a rookie interim coach handles himself against one of the top five coaches in the league. This game could be close and come down to a crucial decision from the head men. 

    Prediction: Saints 24, Giants 35

Week 15: Giants at Falcons

14 of 17

    Sunday Dec. 16, 1:00 ET, FOX

    The Giants absolutely destroyed the Atlanta Falcons in the first round of the playoffs last year, dominating from start to finish with a 24-2 win. 

    That said, the Falcons are a much different team when they play in their home dome, so I wouldn't expect a Giants blowout at all. 

    Matt Ryan plays better on his home turf, and that could work to the Falcons' favor. The winds of Met Life stadium clearly bothered him in their playoff matchup. 

    The Giants are a great road team, but if they let the crowd stay in the game, it could spell disaster. 

    Positional Matchups to Watch: 

    You guessed correctly. Roddy White versus Corey Webster will be the key. White is one of the best in the game and dominates along with Ryan in that dome. 

    Prediction: Giants 21, Falcons 24

Week 16: Giants at Ravens

15 of 17

    Sunday Dec. 23, 1:00 ET, FOX

    We were incredibly close to getting this matchup in Super Bowl XLVI, so you know this will be a hard fought affair. 

    If things go the way each team hopes, this game could go a long way in deciding the playoff fate for them both. 

    These teams are polar opposites. The Giants rely on their offense to pack on the points, where the Ravens rely on their defense to shut opponents down. 

    With this game being in Baltimore, I have to give the edge to the Ravens and their great defense. 

    Positional Matchup to Watch: 

    Watch Terrell Suggs versus the Giants offensive tackles. It's anybody's guess who those will be at this point (I'd put my money on Will Beatty at LT and Sean Locklear at RT), but Suggs is a monster off the edge and could force a mistake that changes the outcome. 

    Prediction: Giants 13, Ravens 20

Week 17: Eagles at Giants

16 of 17

    Sunday Dec. 30, 1:00 ET, FOX 

    Any bets on how quick the NFL flexes this game to Sunday Night Football? If you've been keeping score, the Giants are 8-7 by my estimations. If the NFC is as tough as it was last season, nine wins will not get you a Wild Card spot. 

    Honestly, the Giants were very lucky to be able to win the division with just nine wins. They should not expect the same in 2012. 

    This game will have huge playoff ramifications, unless either team suffers season-altering injuries. The Giants proved they have what it takes to win games when the chips are down when they dominated the Jets and Cowboys to finish the 2011 season, winning the NFC East in the process. 

    Each were absolutely must-win games, and the Giants came through when it mattered most. That will be the difference in this game. The Giants are winners, while the Eagles (as they are currently constructed) proved they buckle under the pressure of the limelight. 

    The Giants' defensive line will frustrate Michael Vick yet again and knock him out of the game.  

    Positional Matchup to Watch

    I will be watching the Jeremy Maclin versus Terrell Thomas matchup closely in this game. The Eagles have two dynamic wide receivers, but Maclin is more polished and will need to be shut down for the Giants to have success stopping the Eagles. 

    Prediction: Eagles 28, Giants 31

Final Predictions

17 of 17

    There are many striking similarities to the offseasons prior to 2008 and 2012. Those were both years in which the Giants were Super Bowl Champs, and both free agency periods were not kind to the Giants. 

    In 2008, the Giants lost Kawika Mitchell and Gibril Wilson as they signed free agent contracts; this year the Giants cut Brandon Jacobs (due to a contract dispute) and failed to re-sign wide receiver Mario Manningham. 

    Despite being Super Bowl champions, the Giants are not the common pick to win the division the following year.  

    After the Giants came together and won it all in 2007, they came out firing the next season despite taking a perceived hit on their depth chart. They started the season 11-1 before losing four of their final five games, including a playoff game. 

    Can this team come together and be a complete team like they were in 2008? That year the Giants were the No. 1 rushing team, and the defense was stout under Steve Spagnuolo. 

    It would take a huge change for the Giants to be considered a complete offensive team again. They were dead last rushing the football in 2011 and had to overcompensate by utilizing Eli Manning's arm.

    The defense could see vast improvements with how many players they are getting back from injury as well as the trade they made for Keith Rivers, former No. 9 overall pick in the 2008 draft. 

    I wouldn't expect to see the Giants come out of the gates as they did in 2008, but a 5-1 start is not outlandish. 

    Nine wins will get you close to the playoffs, but the Giants found out in 2010 that even 10 wins doesn't guarantee a spot. With brutal common opponents for every team in the division, the difference in NFC West opponents could make a huge difference. 

    Where the Giants play the 49ers, the Cowboys play the Seahawks and the Eagles play the Cardinals. There is a noticeable dropoff in talent from the 49ers to the others. In a tight divisional race, that basically makes the 49ers game a must win for the Giants.

    The NFC East race will come down to a game or two, and hopefully the Giants are on the right end of that differential.