EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. – Two Monday night home games – the season-opener against Pittsburgh and another vs. Tom Brady and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers – and a visit by the defending NFC champion San Francisco 49ers highlight the Giants' 2020 regular-season schedule.
It is the first time the Giants will host two Monday night games in the same season in the 51-year history of Monday Night Football.
The Giants will play their first road game in Chicago, the first time since 2014 that their first road contest won't be in Dallas. They will play their Thursday night game in Philadelphia, twice travel to the west coast (to face the Los Angeles Rams and Seattle Seahawks) and end the season at home against the Dallas Cowboys.
"I'll tell you what, when you get the schedule, it definitely does give you a little surge of energy," first-year head coach Joe Judge said. "It stimulates a lot of conversation between all areas of the organization - support staff, coaching staff -- and you start preparing immediately for it.
"The number one positive is we're getting ready to play football, so that's the biggest thing. Once you get the schedule, it starts moving a little bit faster in your mind in terms of preparing for what's in front of you. The thing we were waiting to see a little bit on was how some of the cross-country games played out. That ties in a little bit to how you plan out a lot of your travel for the year, which is tied to how you practice those weeks. You start mapping out how you're going to go about each week by week through the season.
"We can start working on hotels and you start having more conversations that are going to tie into how you're going to plan and prepare throughout the flow of the season. You look at the bye week, you look at how shortly before that is the Thursday night game, which leads into a Monday night game. How can you use some of the breaks in the season to help your players? How can we structure practice accordingly? You're also tying in the new rules with our limited number of padded practices. You just start calculating as you look on down the list of opponents."
Since Tom Coughlin became head coach in 2004, the Giants have traditionally traveled to the west coach the day prior to a game. Based on his eight seasons with New England, when will Judge take the Giants to L.A. and Seattle?
"I'd say for the most part, historically, we've gone out on Fridays and given them an extra day to get out there and get acclimated to a few things," he said. "But that's nothing that's locked in concrete. We'll talk as a coaching staff and make sure we hammer what we think is best for this team. To be honest with you, we'll have a game plan to go out there early and be prepared to cancel the extra day if we need to as we get a feel for how our team goes throughout the season."
Judge will make his head coaching debut on Monday, Sept. 14 in MetLife Stadium against the Pittsburgh Steelers at 7:15 p.m. It will be the Giants' first Monday night season opener since 2014, when they lost in Detroit (which is also the last time their first road was somewhere other than Dallas); their first Monday night home opener since 1995, when they lost to Dallas; and the first time their opening home game will be played on a Monday night since 2011, when they defeated the St. Louis Rams in Week 2.
Judge was asked if his first game will be particularly special because it will be showcased on a Monday night.
"For me, any game is going to have the same amount of juice," he said. "I think everyone is going to have a lot of energy for the opener, us and Pittsburgh. It's going to be a situation where look, you get to play under the lights, you get to play at home. But it's the opening game for both teams. Both teams will be coming out of training camp sick of beating up on each other and ready to see an opponent."
On Sunday, Sept. 20, the Giants will begin their road schedule when they visit the Chicago Bears for the second consecutive year. Kickoff is 1 p.m. Last Nov. 24, the Giants lost in Soldier Field, 19-14.
One week later, also at 1 p.m., the Giants host the 49ers, who lost Super Bowl LIV to the Kansas City Chiefs, 31-20. San Francisco will visit MetLife for the first time since 2015.
The Giants begin a two-game road trip when they face the Rams in brand new SoFi Stadium on Sunday, Oct. 4 at 4:05 p.m. The following week, the Giants play their first NFC East game when they visit the Cowboys in Arlington, Texas at 4:25 p.m. That will be the first of five division matchups in a six-game span.
"It doesn't matter if they're in a row or spaced out, division games are obviously big for you," Judge said. "Those are key opponents. It definitely jumps out at you that you have five of those in six weeks and only having a couple of weeks in between each of the opponents with the Redskins and Philly. That's sometimes a different flavor in terms of how much change can happen within those couple of weeks. How much the opponent's done differently, how much have you adjusted. That plays more into it than just having a string of division opponents."
The Giants return home on Sunday, Oct. 18, when they host the Washington Redskins at 1 p.m. Four days later, they will be in Lincoln Financial Field to face the defending NFC East champion Eagles at 8:20 p.m.
After an 11-day break, Brady and the Buccaneers provide the opposition for the Giants' second Monday night home game of the season on Nov. 2 at 8:15 p.m. Judge, of course, spent the previous eight seasons working with Brady as a member of the Patriots staff.
"I think we'll be very aware of Tom being on the other team," Judge said. "At that point of the year, I'm sure everyone is going to get used to him wearing a different color jersey. I'm in a different jersey myself. We're more conscious of the opponents we'll be playing. The Buccaneers have a very good defense, they have tons of receivers, tons of weapons, and they made some great additions in the offseason with Tom and Rob (Gronkowski). Seeing those guys over there, no matter where our paths may have crossed in the past, all that's going to matter is that Monday night."
The Giants will travel on a short week for the third time for their next game, a rematch with the Redskins in FedExField on Sunday, Nov. 8 at 1 p.m. The following week, they again face a division foe for the second time in four games when they host the Eagles at 1 o'clock.
"Whether it's a short week or a long week, we're going to do everything we can to just line it up and get prepared for our opponents regardless of if you play them on a short week or you play them home or away," Judge said. "I don't think we really want to make too much of the length of the weeks. It is what it is. You're fortunate to be able to play in some primetime games. You're lucky to be able to be under the lights. We'll just make sure we prepare for those teams a little bit more on the front end to account for a day or so after the game."
In Week 11 – which includes Sunday, Nov. 22 – the Giants will have their bye. It is the third consecutive season the Giants' bye is in November.
"Look, it's a long season," Judge said. "Wherever you fit that bye in, you're going to have to find ways to structure your team and how you practice and prepare to account for guys through attrition, through injuries, your guys getting worn down. You have to find ways throughout the year, regardless of when your bye comes, of managing your team. You look at it more in terms of just when it falls and what the stretch looks like afterwards. I've had very, very early byes. We've had late byes. I think where our bye is right now is a good spot for it. But at the same time, you have a long stretch of games before and you have a lot of tough opponents after it. That bye week is not going to do a whole lot for you when the whistles blow on Sundays."
When they return to action, it will be to start another two-game trip. On Sunday, Nov. 29, the Giants visit the Bengals in Cincinnati at 1 p.m. The following week, they return to the west coast to play the Seattle Seahawks in CenturyLink Field at 4:05 p.m.
The kickoff for each of the Giants' final four games, including three at home, is scheduled for 1 p.m.
"I don't think too much about if it's a home or away game," Judge said. "I look at it more as the opponent we have to play. They are all teams that have a lot of explosive qualities on their offense and tough defenses. I'm looking more at who the team is as opposed to where we're playing them."
The final quarter of the season begins on Sunday, Dec. 13, when the Arizona Cardinals visit MetLife for the second straight year. Last Oct. 20, the Giants dropped a 27-21 decision to the Cards.
One week later, former Giants wide receiver Odell Beckham, Jr. and the Cleveland Browns play in MetLife.
The Giants play their final road game of the season on Sunday, Dec. 27, against the defending AFC North champion Ravens in Baltimore.
Dallas provides the opposition for the final regular-season game on Jan. 3 in MetLife.
View iconic photos from the all-time series between the Giants and their 2020 opponents.