With the schedule about to be announced, the Giants.com crew debates which matchup should be the team’s season opener.
JOHN SCHMEELK: Not the Dallas Cowboys in Dallas. I can’t just make that my answer? OK, fine. A lot of times the television networks and some fans want a marquee matchup for the Giants in a national TV window to draw a lot of eyes and a big rating. I don’t. The first week of the regular season is special on its own, so there isn’t a need for a big matchup against a marquee opponent. I also don’t like division rivals to play themselves too early in the season because very often both teams are still trying to figure out their identity.
I would prefer a nice ho-hum game at home or on the road against a non-divisional opponent with a 1 p.m. start. This team might need some time to come together in the regular season before they start playing their best football. I prefer a proverbial slow dip into the pool instead of just doing a cannonball and starting the season against the Patriots, Cowboys or Eagles. A trip to Tampa Bay or Detroit would be nice. Hosting the Cardinals, Dolphins or Bills would work just fine, too. Give me a nice boring start to the season. It would suit this team, which will look very different than last year’s version, just fine.
DAN SALOMONE: With the NFL celebrating its 100th season, there was a little bit of a changeup to the start of the league schedule. The 199th meeting between the Bears and Packers will take place on the Thursday night stage in Week 1, a spot usually reserved for the defending Super Bowl champion. New England will raise its latest banner instead on Sunday night, which I think would be a perfect spot for the Giants to open the new year. I’m a sucker for pomp and circumstance (unlike my pragmatic wife), so what better way to celebrate 100 years of the NFL than to bring together the two franchises that produced the game of the century: Super Bowl XLII.
The snag in my plan is that the Giants once again close the preseason against the Patriots. Would the NFL have them play back-to-back games? You have to think it’s possible because the preseason finale is typically reserved for backup players trying to make the roster. Additionally, I think it’s worthwhile because I don’t want to see the Patriots open against the Chiefs, which is the obvious choice. I’m not a fan of these Super Bowl or conference championship rematches happening so early in the season when the first month – at least – is an extension of the preseason. I want to see that rematch in late November or December when both sides are well-oiled machines and the stakes are high.
LANCE MEDOW: I don’t like divisional games in the first week of the season, so you can eliminate the Cowboys, Eagles and Redskins from my list. Given the importance of those games, I don’t think they should start any earlier than Week 3 because sometimes you need a game or two at the beginning of the season to work out the kinks and get the team on the same page. With that being said, before I get to my choice, I wouldn’t be surprised if the Giants open the season against a divisional rival because this is the 100th anniversary of the NFL and the league may look to sell the rivalry theme in Week 1.
If I had my choice, I’d have the Giants open the season at home against the Vikings. You have the storyline of Pat Shurmur’s former team, Kirk Cousins facing a familiar foe, a matchup between two franchises that are looking to bounce back after missing the playoffs in 2018 and a good early test for the Giants’ offense against a solid defense. When you take all of those factors into consideration, I think it makes for a strong selling point.
In 2018, stunningly, the Giants didn’t open the season against the Cowboys but instead hosted the Jaguars. I’m sure the Tom Coughlin connection was a big factor. If they want to once again go the route of an out-of-conference game, the Giants play the AFC East this season. I don’t see them opening up in New England against the Patriots on Sunday Night Football, and I would think they’d want to save the Giants-Jets game until a little later in the season, especially since both teams will play each other in week one of the preseason. That would leave the Bills or Dolphins as potential opponents. Certainly feasible, but I think the Vikings matchup is a bit more intriguing.