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2021 Schedule Release

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Cover 3: Takeaways from Giants' 2021 schedule

COVER-3

The Giants.com crew reacts to the release of the official 2021 NFL schedule:

John Schmeelk: The most remarkable thing about the Giants schedule is that there isn't much remarkable about it. We already knew who the Giants opponents were going to be so all we learned today is the order that the games are going to be played. Here are my major takeaways:

The schedule is pretty balanced overall. Road and home games are split evenly in the first and second halves of the season. There are never stretches of more than two consecutive home or road games. There is no murderers row of games anywhere on the schedule featuring the toughest opponents, nor a stretch featuring multiple teams that have a lot of question marks. The bye week is in Week 10, right near the middle of the season.

The season starts against what could be two of the better defensive teams in the league: The Denver Broncos and Washington Football Team. The Broncos numbers last year were not great but they were hurt by Von Miller's injury and an offense that turned the ball over too much. They have added pieces in the secondary this of-fseason including first round pick Patrick Surtain II. Washington might have the best defensive line in football and used their first-round pick on Jamin Davis. It could be slow out of the gates for the Giants offense.

The next four games will feature teams with veteran quarterbacks and explosive offenses. Week 3 features Matt Ryan and his myriad of weapons with the Falcons in Metlife Stadium. Week 4 has the Giants in New Orleans against the volatile Jameis Winston and the Saints. The Giants have to travel to the Cowboys next before hosting Matthew Stafford and the Rams in Week 6 on Oct. 17th. The Panthers come next before three straight games against QBs Patrick Mahomes, Derek Carr and Tom Brady. It is a much tougher stretch of passers than the Giants had to face last season.

There will be no better measuring stick for the Giants than their Monday night games at Kansas City and Tampa Bay during a four-week, three-game stretch surrounding their bye week. If the Giants are in the division hunt that will be a big test to see whether they are contenders for a Super Bowl or something else.

The Giants could see a lot of young quarterbacks in the second half of their schedule. They play Philadelphia and Jalen Hurts in Weeks 12 and 16, the Dolphins (Tua Tagovailoa) and Chargers (Justin Herbert) in consecutive weeks to start December, and the Bears with Justin Fields potentially under center in Week 17. How those quarterbacks are playing late in the year will go a long way in determining how difficult the schedule is down the stretch. Drew Lock and Sam Darnold are the only young quarterbacks in the first 11 weeks of the schedule.

The last four games of the season have the potential to feature cold or inclement weather. After two weeks in Miami and Los Angeles to start December, the Giants host Dallas on Dec. 19, visit Philly on Dec. 26h, visit Chicago on Jan. 2, and host Washington on Jan. 9. Get the parkas ready.

The Bears game has added intrigue because the Giants own the Bears first- and third-round picks next year. Beating them late in the year might not only help the Giants' playoff chances but also improve their draft position with the Bears' pick.

How tough is the Giants' schedule? Click to view each team's strength of schedule for the 2021 season based on the records of their opponents from 2020.

Dan Salomone: All the hoopla around the NFL schedule release is really about which games will draw the best ratings. When that excitement passes, though, what you're left with is 17 big boy games that will test each club physically, mentally, and tactically. And as team president John Mara said this off-season, "It's time for us to start winning some more."

So, while it's fun to talk about the Giants facing Patrick Mahomes for the first time or seeing Tom Brady again in prime time, the Giants need to be concerned with taking it one game at a time. It's a cliché because it's true, and Joe Judge will be repeating it every day.

The Giants also need to take care of their business in the NFC East. Before Judge arrived last season, they were 4-14 against their own division since going 4-2 in 2016, the last time they made the playoffs. The Giants also went 4-2 last year and were alive until the 256th and final game of an unprecedented 2020 season. That's not a coincidence. They just need to keep their fate in their own hands and not the Eagles' – or anybody else's.

"Let me just be very clear on this, we had 16 opportunities this year, that's it," Judge said at the end of last season. "It's our responsibility to take care of our opportunities and perform better and execute the situations when they're on our plate. We don't ever want to leave our fate in the hands of anybody else."

Lance Medow: Stunningly, for the second straight season, the Giants won't open the season against the Dallas Cowboys. Given that's happened four times in five seasons prior to 2020, this is a notable drought which shouldn't be overlooked. In all seriousness, I like the fact that four of the team's six divisional games will take place in the final seven contests of the season. With those games carrying a great deal of weight for who will win the division, it makes much more sense to have them later in the season when all of those teams have a much better feel and comfort level with what they're running on both sides of the ball.

The Giants will be tested right out of the gates with a quick turnaround as they visit Washington on Thursday Night Football in Week 2. Outside of that, they play only two more prime time games with both coming on Monday night, on the road, in Weeks 8 and 11 against the Chiefs and Bucs, respectively. Coincidentally, this is the second straight season New York and Tampa Bay will collide on Monday Night Football as they met on this stage in Week 8 in 2020 at MetLife Stadium. The game against the Bucs comes right off the Week 10 bye, which is a good spot to have a mid-season break. New York actually hasn't had a bye earlier than Week 8 since 2011 so they've benefited from a fairly balanced schedule over the last decade.

Interestingly, the Giants will have three sets of consecutive road games this season in Weeks 4-5, 13-14 and 16-17. The last two are worth highlighting because that includes trips to Philadelphia and Chicago in late December/early January, when weather could very well factor into the game plan. There's only so much you can take away from the schedule because we don't know how opponents will look later in the season, the impact injuries will have on opponents, etc. With that being said, the Giants will face two teams with new coaching staffs and schemes, the Eagles (Weeks 12, 16) and Chargers (Week14), later in the season when you could argue there will be more film to study but, at the same time, those teams will have a bit more comfort with what they're running at that point. On the flip side, they play the Falcons in Week 3 when there will be a bit more of the unknown surrounding that opponent.

View photos of the top playmakers from each of the Giants' 2021 opponents.

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