What to Watch For: Giants 2015 schedule

The road to Super Bowl 50 is rife with danger and The Giants Beat takes a look at the major storylines for the 205 regular season slate.

If you ask any NFL fan what the most exciting part of the season is, he or she will likely tell you about the shouting of amateur names at the annual draft or release of the schedule. The actual games? Those have way too many commercials. What we’re treated to now that we have a list of teams that the Giants will play is 16 games-worth of pure, unfiltered speculation.

That’s the stuff that dreams are made of for Giants fans, as they struggle to convince themselves that this is the year that Big Blue once again topples the Cowboys and Eagles to win the NFC East crown. That hasn’t happened since 2011, but another great season from Eli Manning and Odell Beckham Jr. could be just the thing that the Giants need to end their playoff slump.

Week 1: at Dallas (Sunday night)

AT&T Stadium is usually somewhere the Giants enjoy playing, but last season they lost to the Cowboys in Arlington thanks to a combination of poor defense and Larry Donnell fumbles. Coming out to Dallas and handing last year’s division champs a loss on their home field would be a good sign that the Giants are ready to turn things around.

Week 2: vs. Atlanta

Poor starts to the season have been a theme for the Giants in their last two campaigns, but this year they’re all set up to win some games out of the gate. Even if Dallas triumphs in Week 1, the Giants come home to face an Atlanta team that struggled to a 6-10 finish in 2014. In fact, Big Blue defeated the Falcons in MetLife Stadium 30-20 to contribute to their losing mark.

Week 3: vs. Washington (Thursday night)

The Giants sure looked awesome on a Thursday night in Landover, Maryland last year when they won emphatically and made it look like their season was on the right track. That wasn’t to be, but maybe Washington and its quarterback drama will make another tasty snack for this year’s squad.

Week 4: at Buffalo

Speaking of quarterback drama, the upstate Bills have been looking for a solid signal caller for a while now, but they remained competitive throughout 2014 by showcasing an outstanding defense. After importing tailback LeSean McCoy and head coach Rex Ryan, Buffalo will be a team to watch this season, but the Giants could sneak by on the strength of their quarterback play.

Week 5: vs. San Francisco (Sunday night)

Once considered the future of the NFL, San Francisco is reeling after a season that saw quarterback Colin Kaepernick get exposed and head coach John Harbaugh leave for the University of Michigan. Still, the Giants managed to lose to the 49ers at home thanks to five Manning interceptions. To win under the East Rutherford lights, they’ll need to cut back on the miscues.

Week 6: at Philadelphia (Monday night)

You could say that ESPN is taking a risk by putting the Giants’ first meeting with the Eagles into its primetime lineup. After all, the Giants were totally crushed by Philly when they visited Lincoln Financial Field in 2014. The results weren’t that much better even in a glorified exhibition at the end of the year, as progressive head coach Chip Kelly continued to coach circles around Tom Coughlin.

Week 7: vs. Dallas

This is the matchup that produced last year’s unbelievable Beckham catch, so all eyes will be on the sophomore wide receiver to see if he can produce another legendary play. If that happens, perhaps it will help the Giants win a game this time around. In 2014, Dallas bounced back to roll past the Giants and complete a season sweep.

Week 8: at New Orleans

A big reason for optimism this year is that the Giants play all four NFC South teams that all finished below .500 last season. One of those disappointments was the Saints, who went 7-9 in 2014 before trading away their superstar tight end Jimmy Graham. However, the Superdome has been a house of horrors for the Giants. They’ve lost four in a row in The Big Easy, with their last victory coming in 1993.

Week 9: at Tampa Bay

The Buccaneers are expected to pick a quarterback first overall in the NFL Draft, so the projection of this game largely depends on how that guy is playing. Last year was largely a disaster for head coach Lovie Smith and company, but the performance of rookie wide receiver Mike Evans allows hope for a quick turnaround.

Week 10: vs. New England

The last time the Giants played the Patriots in the regular season, the two teams ended up meeting that year in the Super Bowl. That’s a good sign, right? At least for the defending champs it is. New England will be looking to complete a fourth consecutive 12-win season when they roll into the Meadowlands for what could be a crucial November matchup.

Week 11: bye

Week 12: at Washington

Washington represented both of the Giants’ division wins in 2014 and two of their six overall wins. If a playoff run is to be made in 2015, Big Blue must once again find a way to defeat its burgundy rivals, especially if Philadelphia and Dallas field competitive teams as expected.

Week 13: vs. Jets

This game is always a lot of fun for local fans, and even more so when both the Giants and Jets are in the postseason hunt. That was the case back in 2011, when the Giants came away with a tight “road” win that was a big step towards Super Bowl XLVI. With both teams looking forward to improvement in 2015, this clash could once again be pivotal.

Week 14: at Miami

Thanks to a London trip and other quirks of the NFL schedule, the Giants have not played a game against the Dolphins in Florida since 1996. This December, they’ll head south again for should be a highly competitive game against a team that has been knocking on the playoff door for a while now. Of all the opponents on the 2015 schedule, the Giants probably have the least amount of history with the Dolphins, so who knows how this one will turn out?

Week 15: vs. Carolina

The last two times the Giants and Panthers got together, the results weren’t pretty. Back in 2013, New York was blown out in Charlotte on their way to an 0-6 start to the season. A year earlier, it was the Giants dominating Carolina in a Thursday night game. Even with Cam Newton and company coming off of a playoff victory, both of these teams are looking to improve on disappointing 2014 seasons.

Week 16: at Minnesota

The Giants won’t have to worry about the roof caving in when they visit Minnesota this time. Back in December of 2010, the teams had to be moved to Detroit after the Metrodome roof collapsed under the weight of snow, but this year’s game will be at the University of Minnesota. The Vikings are considered a rebuilding team, but if quarterback Teddy Bridgewater makes strides in his sophomore year, they could surprise folks.

Week 17: vs. Philadelphia

No one knows what the stakes will be when the Giants meet the Eagles during the final week of the regular season. Maybe the game will mean almost nothing like it did last year, or maybe a playoff spot will be on the line like in 2002. Either way, the Giants ought to be hungry to defeat their rivals in what could be their last chance of the campaign to impress the home fans.

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