After two weeks, the New York Giants have won two big games within the division at home against Washington and at Dallas’s “Jerry Dome.” Sitting on top of the division, the Giants now prepare for a series of games against Tampa Bay, Kansas City, and Oakland.
Looks like a pretty sweet slate, doesn’t it?
Maybe it isn’t.
Initially, when the opponents were announced I was excited to see who the Giants would face. So when the schedule-makers created the season-long agenda, I actually cringed a bit when I saw these games in succession.
The NFL season is long and grueling and the players take a beating every week they take the field. The talent level is usually pretty close from top to bottom among the 32 teams with a few outliers (good and bad).
Pro football games are won by smart decision-making, efficiency, good coaching, emotional management, and a little bit of luck.
Now that Big Blue has taken down two big-time rivals to open the season, I feel like I need to proceed with caution in my expectations of the team.
Luck is not on New York’s side.
And here are the potential reasons why.
“The Hangover” Week Three at Tampa.
After spoiling the regular-season debut of the Dallas Cowboys’ sparkling new stadium on national television, there has to be a letdown of sorts. The game was filled with big plays, lots of ebb and flow back and forth and the Giants found a way to steal one despite the loss of DE Justin Tuck and giving up 250 yards rushing.
With all of that emotion and the Giants now working to heal on defense in particular, they want to get out of Tampa with a win without having to exert too much energy on a Bucs team that has a balanced offense, but is atrocious on defense. It is hard to get up for every game on the schedule; it’s a long season.
Don’t be surprised if the Giants escape with a 27-24 win.
Too much time on the road? Week Four at Kansas City
I would often hear how brutal it is to have three straight road games, which the Giants will encounter in Kansas City. The fact is that in the last five seasons, teams that played three straight road contests went 7-7 in that third game.
This isn’t a great thing, but not bad either. Kansas City has been more competitive than I thought while working to reestablish an identity as a team. However, their team is still not all that great, and the Giants just have better personnel with systems that have been in place for a while now.
I expect the Chiefs to show up for the game and play tough before the Giants figure out a way to pull away in the fourth quarter.
Giants 34, Chiefs 21
Potential Lookahead? Week Five vs. Oakland
After the Giants face Oakland a huge NFC game is on tap at New Orleans, where it is completely reasonable to think both teams could be unbeaten. There is a chance the Giants could overlook a team that runs the ball well and has been playing inspired defense.
In the end, the errant throws from JaMarcus Russell are probably the difference, but this may be an ugly, tight victory in the Meadowlands.
Giants 17, Raiders 13
Look, I am not making any set-in-stone predictions here with these three games, but rather playing out reasonable scenarios. I still think the Giants are markedly better than these three teams.
What I am saying though is that the scheduling breaks are not there and it would not shock me if all three games were close, or if the Giants lost one of them.
Now by all means, go absolutely nuts about the Giants not being as good as advertised if they drop two or all three of these! Then the team is not that good or too beat up to compete. However, try not to overreact if the wins are closer or uglier than you initially thought.
Proceed with caution...