The Giants.com crew is presented with four statements and must decide whether they are Fact or Fiction.
In terms of winning the NFC East this season, it is better to lead the division in offense rather than defense.
John Schmeelk: Fact – The NFL has become an offense-oriented league. A great defense can do everything right, but if special players do special things on offense, they can beat even the most sound defenses. Defenses are also very fragile, and their performance can fluctuate if weak links appear in the unit due to injuries. On offense, a great player or two at the right positions can mask other deficiencies. All the updated rules are designed to help offenses, and very often games are won and loss at the ends of halves and games with the ball in your quarterback's hands. In those spots, I will always want the better offense than the better defense.
Dan Salomone: Fiction – The NFC East is a wacky division. There is no roadmap. There hasn't been a repeat champion since the early 2000s. For example, the 2019 Cowboys scored the most points and allowed the fewest for a +113 point differential – but missed the playoffs altogether. Defense is still the way to go. The division winner in 2020 and 2021 allowed the fewest points of the four teams. The 2022 Eagles missed out by two points.
Lance Medow: Fact – Last season, the Eagles finished third in the NFL in both total (averaged 389 yards per game) and scoring (28 points) offense. While their defensive numbers in both categories (second in total defense, eighth in scoring defense) were respectable too, it was the offense that put them over the top. When you can post nearly 30 points per contest, it gives you much more leeway on the opposite side of the ball whereas even if your defense holds the opposition to a respectable total, you still need to put points on the board. The latter will never change. That's why leading the division in offense is the goal to set as it always comes back to scoring. In comparison, the Giants finished tied for 15th in scoring offense (averaged 21.5 points per game) and tied for 17th in scoring defense (just under 22 points). When you hang around in the middle of the pack, the scales can easily tip either way.
Matt Citak: Fiction – Last season, the Cowboys, Eagles and Commanders finished sixth, seventh, and eighth, respectively, in scoring defense. Philadelphia finished with 70 total sacks, 15 more than any other team, while the Cowboys finished third with 54. Meanwhile, all three teams finished in the top eight in the league in passing yards allowed, highlighting the fact that Dallas, Philadelphia and Washington all have strong defenses. On the other hand, the Giants' defense finished middle of the pack in most categories last year, and yet they were still able to win nine games. Beating out the defenses of the Eagles, Cowboys and Commanders would likely mean that the Big Blue defense performed at an elite level in 2023. With the offense taking a step up following all of the additions made this offseason, the sky is the limit for the Giants if the defense can finish as the top unit within the division.
The Giants' top priority this season is improving their division record.
John Schmeelk: Fact – If the Giants want any chance to win the division, they have to do better than 1-4-1 against the Eagles, Cowboys, and Commanders. Specifically, they have to figure out a way to win games against the Eagles and Cowboys. They are two of the three elite teams in the conference, and until the Giants show they can compete with and beat those two teams, they are not going to be more than a team competing for a wild card spot. The home opener against Dallas will be a good test for the Giants in their second year in the Schoen-Daboll regime.
Dan Salomone: Fact – That's the talent gap that Joe Schoen referenced in his season-ending press conference. He knows what they did last year was not the best formula for sustained success.
Lance Medow: Fact – You need to finish 4-2 at minimum to have a realistic shot at winning your division. There are exceptions to the rule, but NFL history showcases a record over .500 against division foes is a must and that's been well-documented in the NFC East. Over the last decade, the only year in which that division winner had a .500 record or lower was 2016 when the Cowboys posted a 3-3 mark. Last season, the Giants went 1-4-1 against their rivals and in 2021, 1-5. That trend must head in the oppositive direction.
Matt Citak: Fact – The Giants went 9-7-1 last season despite winning just one game against the NFC East. Taking out their 1-4-1 record within the division, the Giants went 8-3 against all other opponents. When you add in their Divisional Round loss to the Eagles, they totaled five losses against divisional opponents. That is simply not good enough. Of course, the NFC East is in the conversation for the toughest division in the NFL. The Giants will have to find ways to win more divisional games if they want to take the next step following last year's overall success. Most notably, the Giants will need to perform better against the Eagles, who have won 12 of the last 14 games in the rivalry, if they want to become a true contender.
Must-see photos from minicamp as spring practices come to a close at the Quest Diagnostics Training Center.
At Buffalo is the Giants' toughest non-division game.
John Schmeelk: Fact – The only competition here is the Giants' game at San Francisco on a short week, but the 49ers' uncertain quarterback situation makes me hesitate to slide them above the Bills in this ranking. Josh Allen is still in the elite group of quarterbacks, and he has an elite weapon to get the ball to in Stefon Diggs. The Bills' defense is also strong with Von Miller returning from injury. At least the game isn't in Buffalo in December or January.
Dan Salomone: Fiction – Week 12 at home against the Patriots will be tough for a variety of reasons. Not only should New England be an improved team (more on that next), but it also comes after three straight road games for the Giants at Las Vegas, Dallas, and Washington. On top of that, the Giants will not have had their bye yet. The late break this season comes the following week after a visit from Bill Belichick, whose team will be coming off its bye.
Lance Medow: Fact – I'd immediately jump to a trip to San Francisco on Thursday Night Football in Week 3, but considering the team will be staying on the west coast after meeting the Cardinals in Arizona the previous Sunday, the travel won't be as overwhelming. We also don't know who will be the 49ers' starting quarterback at that point because of injuries from last season. If you eliminate that contest, then I'd put the Bills atop the list. It's a Sunday night game in Western New York against a team that has proven to be one of the best in the league over the last few years. Although it's only Week 6 and mid-October, who knows what Mother Nature will have in store for both teams. When you take into consideration the time of day and caliber of the competition, Buffalo makes a compelling case.
Matt Citak: Fiction – This was a close one, but I have the Giants' Week 6 game at Buffalo as their second-toughest non-division game of the season. I think Brian Daboll's and Joe Schoen's familiarity with the Bills will help the Giants prepare for that matchup on Sunday Night Football. The toughest game on the schedule, besides the Christmas Day contest in Philadelphia, is the Week 3 game in San Francisco. The Giants play in Arizona in Week 2 and will stay out west leading up to the game on Thursday night. When you combine the short week with the extended stay on the west coast AND the matchup against last year's top defense (SF ranked No. 1 in both points and yards allowed), it's easy to see why at San Francisco is the toughest non-division game on the schedule.
The Jets will be the most improved team on the Giants' schedule.
John Schmeelk: FACT SLAM – Landing Aaron Rodgers is a big deal. Zach Wilson is a young quarterback who is still figuring things out, while Rodgers is a future Hall of Famer and is now clearly motivated to have one of the best years of his career. Rodgers has a good set of receivers to throw the ball to and a dangerous pair of running backs. The only worry is some of the offensive line issues in front of them. The Jets' defense should be very strong again. Even in the stacked AFC, the Jets should at least be in the conversation for teams with a chance to make the Super Bowl, which they were not last year.
Dan Salomone: Fact – It's best not to overthink this one. They added a four-time league MVP who is only one season removed from winning his second of back-to-back awards. Meanwhile, the Jets also bring back the reigning Offensive and Defensive Rookies of the Year.
Lance Medow: Fact – It will be a clean fact sweep this week. The Jets return one of the best defenses in the NFL last season. Their biggest issue was on the offensive side of the ball, and they've now brought in one of the best quarterbacks in league history in Aaron Rodgers as well as several individuals familiar with playing alongside him highlighted by Allen Lazard and Randall Cobb. Let's also not overlook the return of running back Breece Hall from injury. The Jets averaged just over 17 points per game in 2022. I'm not expecting that number to skyrocket, but it should improve enough to make the Jets far more balanced than the previous season. The Rams are another team to consider given the return of Matthew Stafford and Cooper Kupp from injuries, but I still think the Jets can make a bigger jump.
Matt Citak: Fact – This was another close one, and I'm giving the nod to the Jets as the addition of Aaron Rodgers makes them a true Super Bowl contender this year. The four-time league MVP with the elite Jets defense will make them significantly better than last year's 7-10 record. However, I don't think the Los Angeles Rams' likely improvement should be overlooked. The Rams dealt with numerous injuries last season on their way to a 5-12 record. With a healthy Matthew Stafford and Cooper Kupp playing in Sean McVay's offense, I expect the Rams to look more like the team that won Super Bowl LVI than the team that only picked up five victories last year.
View photos of the New York Giants' official 2023 schedule.