Yes, there is no way to correctly predict what happens in a given NFL season. Injuries, surprise performances, and untold amounts of randomness make each campaign impossible to script. So why are we trying to predict every game of the Giants 2014 season before training camp even opens? Because we have just as good a chance of nailing every game now as if we were picking them week-by-week. The NFL is just that wild these days.
September 8 at Detroit (Monday night)
If it feels like the Giants just got done with Detroit, it’s because Big Blue eliminated the Lions from the playoffs with a 23-20 overtime win in Week 16 of 2013. Matthew Stafford and company appeared to have that game in hand with a seven point lead and five minutes left in the fourth quarter, but Will Hill intercepted a Stafford pass and took it to the end zone to tie the game. With Hill no longer on the team, the Giants will need to find a way to keep Detroit from getting its revenge.
Prediction: Detroit 31, Giants 24
September 14 vs. Arizona
The last time the Giants played Arizona, Eli Manning was leading a thrilling comeback while getting some help from the referees who ruled that an apparent fumble by Victor Cruz came after the wide receiver had given himself up. That was back in 2011, and a lot of things have changed for both sides. While the Giants are a veteran team trying to live up to past glory, the Cardinals are hungry to break into the playoffs after they fell short in 2013 despite racking up 10 wins during the regular season.
Prediction: Giants 21, Arizona 20
September 21 vs. Houston
After a disastrous 2013 season, new head coach Bill O’Brien and the Texans shocked the football world by not drafting a quarterback until the fourth round of the 2014 draft. If rookie Tom Savage can’t win the job, Houston will start the season with either Ryan Fitzpatrick or Case Keenum under center. That’s good news for the Giants, who will have a tough time dealing with a Texans front that now features both J.J. Watt and Jadeveon Clowney.
Prediction: Giants 17, Houston 10
September 25 at Washington (Thursday night)
After a wonderfully exciting 2012 campaign in which rookie quarterback Robert Griffin III breathed life back into what seemed to be a dormant franchise, 2013 stunk for Washington and its supporters. Griffin appeared limited by a knee injury suffered at the end of the 2012 season and the defense was cover-your-eyes bad. With a healthier Griffin and a new head coach in Jay Gruden, the Redskins are looking to bounce back to the highs of 2012, but it won’t be an easy quest.
Prediction: Giants 30, Washington 27
October 5 vs. Atlanta
When the Giants last played Atlanta, they got thrashed 34-0 in December 2012. That was near the end of a disappointing Giants season, but it was the start of a promising playoff run for the Falcons. They ended up losing to San Francisco in the NFC Championship Game, but Atlanta would not get another shot at the playoffs in 2013. The team had championship aspirations in September, but injuries and underperformance caused the Falcons to flounder to a 4-12 finish. With Matt Ryan still at the helm, Atlanta isn’t in rebuilding mode, but another poor season will be a cause for alarm.
Prediction: Giants 24, Atlanta 13
October 12 at Philadelphia (Sunday night)
The surprisingly effective combination of quarterback Nick Foles and head coach Chip Kelly catapulted the Eagles back into the playoffs in 2013. The coach/quarterback combination is only going to get stronger as it gains NFL experience, so the Giants could have their hands full with this version of the Eagles for quite some time. During its last trip to Philly, Big Blue effectively shut down an Eagles offense that was headed by Matt Barkely, but as long as Foles is healthy for this one, the result should be different.
Prediction: Philadelphia 27, Giants 20
October 19 at Dallas
It’s just like Ben Franklin used to say, “There are only three certainties in life: death, taxes, and the Cowboys going 8-8 under Jason Garrett.” I think that’s how the saying goes, anyway. One of these days, the Cowboys are finally going to play up to their talent or Garrett is going to be fired. It’s figuring out which comes first that is key. Last season, Dallas thwarted New York twice in heart-breaking fashion, so I’d say some revenge is in order.
Prediction: Giants 21, Dallas 19
November 3 vs. Indianapolis (Monday night)
Even with that Trent Richardson trade going horribly wrong, these Colts were a scary bunch last season. Andrew Luck continued to prove he is a future-if-not-current superstar at quarterback while the defense made enough plays to get Indianapolis to 11 wins and a division title. Luck’s legend continued to grow in the playoffs, when he led his team to an epic 45-44 win over the Chiefs in the Wild Card round. Eli Manning needs to prove in a game like this that he can still match wits with the best signal callers in the league.
Prediction: Colts 34, Giants 27
November 9 at Seattle
The Seahawks dominated Peyton Manning and the Broncos to emphatically win Super Bowl XLVIII in February. With quarterback Russell Wilson and much of a terrifying defense returning, Seattle is favored to go right back and win the whole thing again. Can the Giants stand in their way? Probably not, if the 23-0 shellacking the Hawks handed them last year is any indication… and that game was at MetLife Stadium. Considering the way Seattle has played in that venue, though, the Giants might be glad to hit the road for this one.
Prediction: Seattle 24, Giants 10
November 16 vs. San Francisco
It’s out of the frying pan and into the oven for our Giants, as they head home to face another NFC West heavyweight and Super Bowl contender. The 49ers could have been on the way to the big game themselves if not for a late Richard Sherman interception in the NFC Championship Game. Built just like the Seahawks with a mobile young quarterback and a punishing rushing attack, San Francisco is a force to be reckoned with. The Giants haven’t faced them since Colin Kaepernick was named quarterback, so this should be an interested test for them.
Prediction: Giants 23, San Francisco 21
November 23 vs. Dallas (Sunday night)
This home game against Dallas has been scheduled for primetime in two of the previous three seasons, so why not go under the lights again? With DeMarcus Ware now in Denver, the Giants should have an easier time blocking the Cowboys this year, so I’m thinking a sweep is in order.
Prediction: Giants 31, Dallas 20
November 30 at Jacksonville
Star wide receiver Justin Blackmon has been indefinitely suspended from the league due to substance abuse, but the Jaguars still have Cecil Shorts as well as the freshly drafted Marquise Lee and Allen Robinson to support new quarterback Blake Bortles. That is the long-term plan, anyway. The rookie out of UCF isn’t guaranteed to begin the season as the starter with veteran Chad Henne still in tow. By this stage of the season, though, there’s a good chance that Bortles is the man.
Prediction: Giants 28, Jacksonville 17
December 7 at Tennessee
The Titans were surprisingly competitive last season when you consider how much time Jake Locker lost to injury. The defense really came into its own, and Tennessee might have a dark horse playoff team on its hands if Locker can just stay on the field and play effectively. It also doesn’t hurt than every Giants vs. Titans game somehow ends up being nightmare-inducing for New York’s fans.
Prediction: Tennessee 23, Giants 16
December 14 vs. Washington
Even if Griffin is looking good at this point in the season, there’s no guarantee that the same can be said about a Washington defense that was dreadful in 2013. If Brian Orakpo gets hurt again, this unit may be in need of a total rebuild.
Prediction: Giants 35, Washington 24
December 21 at St. Louis
The biggest news surrounding the Rams in the offseason was the drafting of defensive end Michael Sam. That’s a big deal, no doubt, but it does serve to overshadow how strong this team has become since Jeff Fisher took over two seasons ago. With a stout defense and some explosive receivers, St. Louis appears poised to seriously compete for a playoff spot for the first time in forever. The only question remaining is whether or not Sam Bradford is fit to be a full-time NFL starter. This might be his last chance.
Prediction: St. Louis 19, Giants 13
December 28 vs. Philadelphia
If I’ve somehow picked every game correctly, the Giants will have nine wins and six losses at this point. Maybe that’s enough to clinch a playoff spot; you never know. However, it probably means that the season will come down to one do-or-die game against the Eagles on the last Sunday of 2014. The game gets flexed into primetime, and a pumped-up crowd makes things just hard enough for the Eagles offense to operate.