Every game is big in the NFL, but some just get hyped more than others.
From facing three former league MVPs to seeing the top two picks in this year's draft, the Giants' 2020 schedule has it all. Here are five intriguing games to circle this season:
Week 1 vs. Pittsburgh Steelers (Monday Night Football)
Giants football is scheduled to return on Sept. 14. It has been an unprecedented offseason around the league, with organizations conducting everything from the draft to team meetings in a virtual format. On top of that, the Joe Judge era officially begins with a primetime game against the Pittsburgh Steelers, a cornerstone franchise with historic ties to the Giants. There are still many hurdles that are more important than football, but the league is gearing up to begin on time. The world will be watching.
Week 3 vs. San Francisco 49ers
The defending conference champions come to town this year. San Francisco, which had a 10-point lead on the Kansas City Chiefs with under seven minutes left in Super Bowl LIV but proceeded to allow 11 unanswered points, will try to restart their climb to the top of the hill. Quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo spent his first three-plus years in New England, where he overlapped with Judge, before being traded to San Francisco midway through the 2017 season. He is 23-6 as a starter, including 2-1 in the postseason. It helps when you have the Niners defense, which was second in yards allowed last season and featured NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year Nick Bosa.
View iconic photos from the all-time series between the Giants and their 2020 opponents.
Week 6 vs. Washington Redskins
More than anything, the NFL produces storylines. This matchup has them. Let's start with the coaches. Judge took over the Giants this winter after winning three Super Bowls as an assistant under Bill Belichick in New England. Washington, meanwhile, turned to Ron Rivera, a two-time AP NFL Coach of Year who led Carolina to an appearance in Super Bowl 50.
Then there are the two teams' recent drafts. The Giants selected Eli Manning's successor in Daniel Jones with the sixth overall pick in 2019, when Washington chose Heisman Trophy finalist Dwayne Haskins nine slots later. This year, Washington took defensive end Chase Young, another Heisman Trophy finalist, second overall. Who will help block him? Most likely, Giants offensive tackle Andrew Thomas, the fourth pick. Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow preceded them as the first overall selection, and the Giants will face him in Week 12 at Cincinnati.
Week 8 vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (Monday Night Football)
The Giants don't have to wait four years to see Tom Brady and Rob Gronkowski. They're in the NFC now. The former Patriots, who need no introduction, shifted the tectonic plates of the NFL landscape and moved to Tampa Bay this offseason. On top of that, Jones will make his second start against this NFC South foe in as many years. Last year, he made his starting debut in Tampa, where he rallied the Giants from an 18-point halftime deficit to a thrilling victory. Jones threw two touchdowns and ran for two more, including the go-ahead score with 1:16 left in the game.
Week 16 at Baltimore Ravens
Before the season finale vs. Dallas, the Giants have back-to-back games against the AFC North. They host the Cleveland Browns in Week 15, when three-time Pro Bowl wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. faces his former team for the first time. In March of 2019, the Giants acquired safety Jabrill Peppers, guard Kevin Zeitler and two draft choices in exchange for the Browns receiving Beckham and linebacker Olivier Vernon.
After the reunion, the Giants head to Baltimore, where they have not beaten the Ravens in two previous trips. Quarterback Lamar Jackson will be the last of three league MVPs the Giants face this year, the others being Brady (2007, 2010, 2017) and Redskins running back Adrian Peterson (2012). Jackson won the award last season after throwing a league-high 36 touchdowns to just six interceptions while posting a 113.3 passer rating. Oh, and he also ran for 1,206 yards – only five running backs had more – and seven touchdowns.