*3 writers give their take on the New York Giants' 2017 Schedule: *
In this "Cover 3" on Giants.com, our broadcast team breaks down the 2017 schedule, which was released Thursday night.
PAUL DOTTINO: There are several positive elements to the Giants' schedule, and we'll start with its impact on the division and conference faces. The Cowboys are overhauling their defense this year, and it's highly unlikely they will be in sync for the opener, a significant handicap against any Week 1 opponent. The Giants will finish the season with four NFC games, including three (all at home) inside the NFC East. Thus, they are less likely to have to scoreboard watch as they try to determine their playoff position down the stretch.
In addition, the Giants have two warm-climate games (Oakland, Arizona) in December, when cold weather can be difficult on a weary roster. And the bye (Week 8) comes in the middle of a nearly five-week stretch that includes just one road game (San Francisco), allowing the team to catch its breath and recharge for the second half of the season. Finally, the Giants' four longest trips to the West are broken up, with no fewer than two games between each of them.
On the flip side, the Giants will open with three of their first four games on the road. They also begin the season with two primetime games, causing alterations in the team's "regular" work schedule. Of course, it's always difficult on the coaches/players coming back from a primetime game out West (Week 6 at Denver).
A look at the Giants' road venues for the 2017 preseason and regular season.
JOHN SCHMEELK:** The first seven games are going to be one heck of a bellwether for the Giants. They open with four of their first six on the road, including games in Philly and Dallas. Playing Tampa Bay and Denver will be no picnic either. Welcoming Philip Rivers and the Chargers and the Seahawks' defense into MetLife Stadium will be tough affairs in their own right. The Giants need to start the season playing good football.
The two games after the bye will likely be the part of the schedule fans see as the most winnable, with the Giants playing two teams that finished out of the playoffs last year in the 49ers and Rams. The final seven games are against teams that all have legitimate playoff aspirations, including the Raiders and Chiefs. The Giants close their season with three out of four in the division, all at home, including the finale against Washington. The division will likely be decided in the dog days of December yet again. Put a big circle around back-to-back games against Dallas and Philadelphia on December 10th and 17th. They'll both be very intense.
LANCE MEDOW: When you look at the 2017 schedule, it's clear the Giants are going to be tallying up airline miles this season. They already knew they'd have four road games (Denver, San Francisco, Oakland, Arizona) on the west coast, but it was unclear how those games would lay out. In the second half of the season, the Giants will head across the country three times in the span of seven weeks. As Dottino pointed out, the spacing of the games works to the team's favor in that there are three weeks between trips to San Francisco (Nov. 12) and Oakland (Dec. 3) and then another three weeks before facing the Cardinals in Arizona on Dec. 24.
Four of their first six games are on the road but just two are against NFC East foes whereas four of their final six games are against divisional opponents. Every game is important, but given most of their NFC East games will be later in the season, setting the tone early in the year on the road will be crucial.
These opposing playmakers will appear on the Giants' schedule in 2017.