Washington is the biggest sleeper on the Giants' 2020 schedule.
John Schmeelk: Fiction -- The Giants have so many quality opponents on their schedule, the only ones who can potentially be sleepers are the Bears, Redskins, Bengals, Browns and Cardinals. I don't even think it is fair to include the Bears and Browns on the list given the former went 8-8 last year and most analysts consider the latter as a "breakout" team this season. So, I am going to go with the Cardinals.
Arizona has QB Kyler Murray entering his second season and a stacked wide receiver corps featuring Larry Fitzgerald, DeAndre Hopkins, Christian Kirk and second-year players Andy Isabella and Hakeem Butler. Former Dolphin RB Kenyan Drake excelled there late last season, and if the offensive line and defense can improve a little, the Cardinals can make some noise in a stacked NFC West.
Lance Medow: Fiction -- I would never classify any team within the NFC East as a sleeper because there's been too much turnover atop the division over the last decade or so to prove that you can never overlook any of them.
There are many questions surrounding the Redskins, including Dwayne Haskins' long-term production, the state of the offensive line, and the back end of the defense. On top of that, the team has a new coaching staff and schemes to work through. I still think Washington is dangerous because of head coach Ron Rivera's track record, but I wouldn't put it at the top of the list. Instead, the Cardinals are the biggest sleeper on the schedule.
Kyler Murray showed some flashes as a rookie; they acquired a big-time play maker for him in receiver DeAndre Hopkins (Texans) to pair with a nice young group of receivers; their top corner - Patrick Peterson - won't be serving a six-game suspension this season; and they drafted linebacker Isaiah Simmons. Arizona won just five games in 2019 and plays in a very deep NFC West, but I wouldn't dismiss the Cardinals from the wild card conversation this year.
View iconic photos from the all-time series between the Giants and their 2020 opponents.
Baltimore is the toughest opponent this season.
John Schmeelk: Fact -- Given the 49ers and Ravens were the two top seeds in their respective conferences, it is one of those two, right? Or do Tom Brady's Buccaneers emerge as a top NFL team this year? I do, however, think there is a realistic chance the Buccaneers will have a better record than the 49ers, since San Francisco may regress.
With Lamar Jackson, I do not expect as big of a regression from the Ravens. Although I believe the rest of the league will figure out how to scheme against a unique offense that is built around Jackson's skills, the Ravens have a good enough defense to remain strong. The Giants' game against the Ravens is in Baltimore, a very difficult to play.
Lance Medow: Fact -- There are a number of strong candidates, highlighted by the defending NFC champion 49ers, who are essentially bringing back their 2019 roster, and the Ravens.
I love San Francisco's front seven and they drafted South Carolina DT Javon Kinlaw in the first round. The Niners also have a very strong, versatile rushing attack. But they traded away one of their best defensive linemen in DeForest Buckner (Colts), lost free agent wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders (Saints) and Deebo Samuel (broken foot), their top wide receiver, may not play against the Giants in Week 3. It's neck and neck - but given some of those question marks - I'll give the slight edge to the Ravens.
Lamar Jackson had an outstanding season in 2019 and you figure he's only going to improve in his second full season as the starter. The Ravens added Ohio State running back J.D. Dobbins through the draft and fortified an already strong defense by acquiring lineman Calais Campbell (Jaguars). Baltimore maintained continuity by retaining both of its coordinators.
Dexter Lawrence has the most to gain this season on defense.
John Schmeelk: Fiction -- This is a very long list and I don't think it is fair to put Dexter Lawrence on top of it. Leonard Williams is on a one-year franchise tag and playing for a long-term contract. Lorenzo Carter and Oshane Ximines are trying to prove they can be every-down edge rushers who consistently get to the quarterback. Kyler Fackrell is on a one-year, prove it-type deal. Dalvin Tomlinson is heading into a contract year. Sam Beal is trying to show he can stay healthy and is of starting caliber. Jabrill Peppers is attempting to break out in his fourth season. The versatile Julian Love is planning to show where he best fits. Ryan Connelly is working to return from a torn ACL. DeAndre Baker is trying to bounce back from an up-and-down rookie season and a troubling offseason. I didn't even mention all the rookies on defense. Each of these players has more to gain this season than Lawrence.
Lance Medow: Fiction -- Dexter Lawrence is entering his second season and learning his third defense in as many years – you can't dismiss that when it comes to a young player. He's also a former first-round pick and will not have the urgency to play in a contract year for a while.
Leonard Williams was given the franchise tag, so he clearly has a lot to gain this season. The same can be said for Kyler Fackrell, who signed a one-year deal and wants to prove his 10.5 sacks in 2018 were not an anomaly. Lorenzo Carter is entering his third season and unlike Lawrence, wasn't a first-round pick, which means he has a great opportunity to emerge as a needed pass rusher. Julian Love is in the conversation, too, given he has a chance to win the starting nickel corner spot.
Photos of Giants DL Dexter Lawrence. Originally the 17th overall draft choice by the Giants in 2019, Lawrence has played in 48 games over his first three seasons.