NFL schedule: Breaking down NY Giants’ path to return to playoffs

LANDOVER, MARYLAND - NOVEMBER 08: Daniel Jones #8 of the New York Giants stands under center in the first half against the Washington Football Team at FedExField on November 08, 2020 in Landover, Maryland. (Photo by Patrick McDermott/Getty Images)
LANDOVER, MARYLAND - NOVEMBER 08: Daniel Jones #8 of the New York Giants stands under center in the first half against the Washington Football Team at FedExField on November 08, 2020 in Landover, Maryland. (Photo by Patrick McDermott/Getty Images) /
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Apr 29, 2021; Cleveland, Ohio, USA; Kyle Pitts (Florida) poses with a jersey after being selected by Atlanta Falcons as the number four overall pick in the first round of the 2021 NFL Draft at First Energy Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports /

NFC South

Atlanta Falcons

All-Time Record: Atlanta Falcons lead series 13-12

Last Meeting: 10/22/18 – NY Giants 20, Falcons 23

2021 Meeting: Week 3 (Home)

This will be the first meeting between the two teams in three years, with Atlanta winning three of the last four meetings dating back to 2012.

Heading into 2021, the Falcons appear committed to Matt Ryan after taking freak tight end Kyle Pitts with the 4th overall pick in the NFL Draft. It remains to be seen if Julio Jones will be traded or not, but if he’s suiting up, he and Calvin Ridley alongside Pitts will create a lot of problems.

Atlanta has a lot of similar strengths and weaknesses as Dallas. The offensive line and defense are the biggest question marks, and while they will have offensive firepower, it plays into the strength of this Giants team which is the defense. This will be a fun early season matchup.

New Orleans Saints

All-Time Record: New York Giants lead series 16-14

Last Meeting: 9/30/18 – NY Giants 18, Saints 33

2021 Meeting: Week 4 (Away)

This matchup has always been a back-and-forth affair, with both teams taking two of the last four meetings vs each other.

The Saints are in Year 1 A.B. (After Brees) and currently relying on Jameis Winston to lead the team this fall.

After unloading a handful of cap casualties this off-season, this is a very different looking team. The duo of Michael Thomas and Alvin Kamara will create problems. After moving on from Trey Hendrickson, Kwon Alexander, and Janoris Jenkins, the Saints defense will look quite different as well.

Like so many other teams the NY Giants will face in 2021, this matchup features a question mark at quarterback for the opposing team that will greatly determine the outcome of the game. Is Winston the answer? Taysom Hill? Regardless, as has been a trend in this matchup recently, I would not be surprised to see a high-scoring shootout.

Carolina Panthers

All-Time Record: Carolina Panthers lead series 7-4-0

Last Meeting: 10/7/18 – NY Giants 31, Panthers 33

2021 Meeting: Week 7 (Home)

This matchup has caused nothing but heartache and pain for NY Giants fans over the years. In 2018, after a bad spot awarded Carolina a first down with 11 seconds left, Graham Gano drilled a 63-yard FG to win the game. Of course, we’ll never forget the OBJ vs Josh Norman matchup in 2015, where a 28-point comeback by the NY Giants was all-for-not after yet another game-winning FG by Gano.

Overall, Carolina has scored at least 33 points in their last three matchups vs the NY Giants, with the last win over the Panthers coming in 2012. Now, with Sam Darnold at the helm, the Giants will face yet another QB mystery-team. The matchup of Saquon Barkley vs Christian McCaffrey will be fun to watch, as will the matchup of rookie corner Jaycee Horn vs the fast and improved Giants’ WR corps.

Ultimately, these teams are very similar. Both in year two of their head coach’s tenure, both with young, unproven QBs, generational RB talents, and strong secondaries. This should be another interesting, ultra-competitive game that both teams would love to have near the halfway point of the season.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

All-Time Record: New York Giants lead series 16-8

Last Meeting: 11/2/20 – NY Giants 23, Buccaneers 25

2021 Meeting: Week 11 (Away, Monday Night)

This will interestingly be the fifth straight year these two teams play, with last year’s meeting being one of the more frustrating losses of the season. Blowing a late lead, Daniel Jones’ struggles, and a DPI penalty that was waived on the 2-point conversion attempt all resulted in a home loss to Tom Brady and the eventual world champions.

History has been kind to the Giants in this matchup, as they’ve won seven of the last nine meetings.

Unfortunately, I’m not so sure how much history will help this matchup, as it will be one of the toughest games of the season for the NY Giants.

The Buccaneers incredibly return almost every one of their offensive and defensive starters from a year ago while adding depth at OLB and OL in the draft. Going on the road and playing in prime time doesn’t help matters either.

This will be the epitome of a benchmark game to see where this team is at in terms of competing and contending with the league’s best.