MICHAEL EISEN: Fact* - Yes, that’s an asterisk. It’s easy to say in April that the Giants most difficult challenge will be facing the Super Bowl champions – who shut them out last December - 3,000 miles from home on a short week. But the game won’t be played this month. Who knows what the circumstances will be in November? Maybe the Seahawks will suffer a championship hangover and never recover. Maybe the Giants will be the league’s hottest team and the Seahawks will look at it as their toughest game. Speculating the relative strengths of two teams more than six months before they face each other is an exercise in futility.
- JOHN SCHMEELK: Fact - This is simple. The Giants are playing the defending Super Bowl Champions on the road, which also happens to be one of the toughest places to win in the NFL. Oh yeah, the game is also coming off a Monday night game. Trouble.
- DAN SALOMONE: Fact - Let’s start with the simple fact that it’s an away game. Including the playoffs, Seattle is 27-8 at their home of the “12th man” since Pete Carroll took over in 2010. Then there are the tangibles. We all know how dominant they have been no matter the location, and it will be a true test of where the Giants stack up in the NFC.
MICHAEL EISEN: Fiction - The prime time game I am most interested in seeing is the Sept. 8 Monday night opener in Detroit. It’s the next Giants game that counts in the standings. That’s really the only game to focus on now.
- JOHN SCHMEELK: Fiction - I’m excited about the season opener against the Lions for obvious reasons, but also because the Lions could be a dark horse team this year. With a new coach, they might be able to turn their talent into more wins this year. It will also be an early season test for the Giants revamped secondary against the best wide receiver in the league, Calvin Johnson. I’m also excited to see what progress the Redskins have made with the addition of Desean Jackson and the health of Robert Griffin III. In fact the Giants have three primetime games against all their division teams this year. Success in those games will go a long way towards determining the season’s success.
- DAN SALOMONE: Fiction - I think the whole former teammate angle gets overdone, and Hakeem Nicks coming back to town will probably be no different. I’m looking at the Sunday night game against Dallas in Week 12. Capping a four-game stretch that includes Indianapolis, Seattle, and San Francisco, the Dallas game will set the tone for the final push one way or another.
>> FIVE PRIMETIME GAMES ON 2014 SCHEDULE
- MICHAEL EISEN: Fiction - I’m picking Washington, which has a new coach and a presumably healthy RG3. That team has talent, but was beset with too much strife and controversy in Mike Shanahan’s final season in D.C. Assuming Jay Gruden is a competent coach, they have the ingredients for a quick turnaround.
- JOHN SCHMEELK: Fact - The return of Julio Jones, a healthier Roddy White and the addition of at least two quality players in the draft will make Atlanta much better. The Texans are also in the mix here, but their quarterback situation still leaves too many questions. Also, don’t sleep on the Rams, who could be fighting for a wild card spot this year if Sam Bradford finally comes into his own.
- DAN SALOMONE: Fact - Everything that could go wrong did go wrong for the Falcons last season. Before they knew it, they were 1-4, 2-9, and then finished 4-12. The season was gone before it could get started for an Atlanta team that was 56-22 with Matt Ryan as its starting quarterback and had the best record in 2012. These things happen in the NFL. They are now regrouping and hold the sixth overall draft pick. They will rise up.
- MICHAEL EISEN: Fact - Why should this season be any different?
- JOHN SCHMEELK: Fact - This division is going to be tight once again with three teams being in the mix in the last few weeks. Which ones? Who knows. Everyone thought the Eagles would finish in last in 2013 and they ended up winning the division. The NFC East still has a bunch of teams that are very evenly matched.
- DAN SALOMONE: Fact - I made the mistake last season thinking it would finally be the year a team runs away with the division. I won’t make it again. Philadelphia won’t be a one-hit wonder under Chip Kelly. Washington seemingly can only go up from last season under their new coach. Dallas just needs to add some pieces on defense to complement the offense. And the New York Giants will always be contenders under Tom Coughlin. It may not be the best division, but the NFC East is up there as the most competitive.
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