In the NFL there is a saying that holds true every year….It’s not who you play, it’s when you play them. The Giants for instance had to play the Redskins at full strength on opening day in their building. The Giants also play teams on the road, after bye weeks, in prime time. These are factors that many fans don’t take into account when originally viewing the schedule. Now Giants fans and management usually don’t discuss their upcoming games more than a week in advance, but talk show hosts and ESPN do it relentlessly. Let’s take a look at two examples.
The Cowboys are being touted as having a “favorable schedule” for the remaining 6 games:
Miami: Again I would rather have played an 0-6 Dolphin team, or somewhere in there, than a team that has not only learned how to win the close game, but has learned how to play defense. If the Cowboys think this is still the pushover it appeared to be just a month ago, they should think again. I remember a beautiful snowy day in Dallas on Thanksgiving, and one of the best games ever played on the holiday. Miami will give the Cowboys all they can handle.
Arizona: Larry Fitzgerald and a new Qb against the Cowboy secondary in Arizona is no lock win. The Cardinals record is not all that great, but they have been in many, many close games and they are another team that has learned how to win, and how to play together.
Tampa Bay: Tampa in Tampa can be a rough one for teams depending on the weather. The Bucs gave the Packers a run for their money last week, and still have a lot to prove by trying to finish the season strong.
Philadelphia: Everyone knows when NFC East rivals play, all bets are off. These two teams have knocked each other out of the playoffs a few times in past years. It will definitely be a must win for the Eagles, as will all their games going forward.
GIANTS: (TWICE) How anyone can think that either of these games will be a pushover is beyond me. Both teams will need them for their playoff lives, and they should both be close affairs.
All I need to say about the Jets is I’m sure that Denver was included in their “favorable” schedule before they lost to them. Losing two games in 4 days hasn’t been fun for Gang Green, and I look for them to come out fighting, and cursing next week against Buffalo. They do have to face the Giants, the Redskins defense, and the Eagles down the stretch, and oh yeah….that team from Miami that Rex and his team seem to lose to at the most inopportune times. Look for that game on New Years day to be extremely entertaining as the Dolphins will do anything and everything to deny the Jets a chance at the playoffs.
So, when you hear about how all these teams have “favorable” schedules…..remember it’s not who you play, but when you play them!