Recently we discussed which road trip Giants fans should take in the 2019 season. This week, we talk about the home game to circle on your calendar.
John Schmeelk: I like to pick non-divisional opponents for questions like this since you get to see the Cowboys, Redskins, and Eagles every year. I will have to go with the Packers or the Vikings, two teams that will compete for the NFC North title with the Bears. The Vikings have a good team on both sides of the ball, and have dynamic playmakers in Adam Thielen, Stefon Diggs, and Dalvin Cook. With all that said, I'm going to go with the Packers.
It is always fun to see Aaron Rodgers sling the ball around the field, and a matchup between Eli and him is always exciting. We don't quite yet know how Rodgers will blend into hew head coach Matt LaFleur's offensive system, but at the very least he is the master of making great plays outside of the structure of the offense. Manning and the Giants have also had good success against the Packers in the past, despite the result of the last playoff game between the two franchises. There should be fireworks between the two teams and I can't wait to see them.
Dan Salomone: Get those tickets for Week 9 before your Cowboys “friends” do. The Giants host the defending NFC East champions on Monday, Nov. 4, their only primetime game at home. It will be the second leg of the season series between the two franchises, but by Week 9 we should have a better idea of what both teams really are in 2019. As we’ve seen, the first month of the season – give or take a week – is a feeling out stage for all 32 clubs. The Cowboys game will kick off the second half of the Giants’ schedule, followed by the Jets and then the bye week. So it could be a tone-setter for both teams in the divisional standings.
Individually, this game isn’t short of storylines. They start with Saquon Barkley and Ezekiel Elliott, former Big Ten rivals who will likely be in the hunt for the rushing title. Elliott, who sat out the 2018 season finale at MetLife Stadium, won his second crown last season and will be looking for his third. Barkley, who finished second in rushing yards (but first in yards from scrimmage), will try to grab his first. Last year was the first of what could be many rivalry games between the two at the professional level and a continuation of what they began in college.
Lance Medow: I’d circle Sunday, October 20 on your calendars. That’s when the Arizona Cardinals visit MetLife Stadium in Week 7. Why is that an appealing game? Let’s start with their new head coach Kliff Kingsbury, the latest college coach making the jump to the pros. He’s always been viewed as an offensive innovator and now we’ll see whether his concepts will find success on the professional level. From a curiosity perspective, that’s one reason why the game is interesting. Secondly, it will be quarterback Kyler Murray’s first trip to the Big Apple in his NFL career. This year’s No. 1 overall pick comes with plenty of hype after posting impressive numbers in his lone season as Oklahoma’s starter and winning the Heisman Trophy. Who doesn’t want to see a top overall pick in action, especially a quarterback.
Aside from the Kingsbury and Murray storylines, there are several others worth taking into consideration: Larry Fitzgerald’s potential last game at MetLife Stadium given he’s been constantly toying with the idea of retirement; Justin Pugh’s first game back since signing with the Cardinals last year; and James Bettcher’s first game against his former team as well as several Giants’ defensive players, including Olsen Pierre, Markus Golden, Kareem Martin and Antoine Bethea.
The last factor to weigh is time of the year. The game falls right near the middle of the season when you should have a better idea of where the Giants stand and have a good feel for some of their strengths and weakness. On top of that, the weather should still be reasonable in late October.