Easy Road Ahead?

Yes, we know, after an 0-2 start where it appeared the Giants would not only go winless in 2007, but also allow an NFL record amount of points, Big Blue is in no position to take anything – or anyone – for granted. But with all that said, it's clear that the Giants' next three games are winnable, to say the very least.

While Tom Coughlin is more of a ‘take ‘em one game at a time' guy, Jim Fassel used to focus heavily on his troops winning each quarter of the season. With New York having split its first quarter with a 2-2 mark, the Giants are certainly set up nicely to capture the second quarter. After last Sunday's victory over the Jets, Big Blue travels to Atlanta, hosts San Francisco and then heads to London to face off with the Dolphins.

In Atlanta, while Joey Harrington has definitely played better of late, he is still Joey Harrington. The Falcons scored a grand total of 10 points during the season's first two weeks, losing to Minnesota and Jacksonville. They actually put a few points on the board in Week Three against the Panthers, but it wasn't enough as they dropped a 27-20 decision.

It took Atlanta until Week Four to break into the win column, doing so against the Texans via a 26-16 victory. The Falcons dropped to 1-4 after last Sunday's loss to the Titans in Tennessee.

Atlanta boasts a running tandem of Warrick Dunn and Jerious Norwood, neither of whom are going to remind anyone of Tiki Barber. The downfield threats include receiver Roddy White and tight end Alge Crumpler. Defensively, the Falcons haven't been shredded like the early-season Giants but their entire unit is basically average at best.

In the total opposite of how the Giants kicked things off in 2007, the 49ers actually bolted from the gate and captured two wins to start the season. The Niners muzzled the upstart Cardinals on opening day and then edged the Rams in St. Louis, a victory that looked a lot more impressive then than it does now. But then came a three-game skid, which they extended with their loss to Baltimore last weekend. San Francisco was blown out in successive weeks in Pittsburgh and against Seattle, the defending NFC West champs. San Fran will be coming off its bye weekend before facing Big Blue.

The 49ers starting QB Alex Smith posted a 66.6 QB rating before being injured during Week Three. His status for the contest with New York was unknown at press time. The Giants know all about his replacement, Trent Dilfer, who engineered an inept Ravens offense to more than enough points to capture Super Bowl XXXV. Dilfer's 23.3 QB rating since taking over for Smith was hardly unexpected. The dangerous Frank Gore leads San Fran's rushing attack, which has become significantly less dangerous since Smith went down. Defensively, Giants QB Eli Manning will need to be careful around 49ers CB Nate Clements, whom the Niners signed to a ridiculous $80 million contract this offseason.

The Giants then have to travel all the way to London to finish the first half of their season. There they'll meet up with the Dolphins, who stumbled to an 0-5 start. Miami was edged by Washington on opening day, got hammered by Dallas, rallied against the Jets before falling and got annihilated by the Raiders. The Dolphins failed to grab their first victory last Sunday in Houston. Before heading to England to meet up with Big Blue the Dolphins host New England.

Miami quarterback Trent Green hasn't been awful all the time, but as his 72.9 QB rating and 5-7 TD-INT ratio shows, he hasn't exactly been lighting it up either. His main target is Chris Chambers, who led the club with 23 catches through the first four games. The Dolphins are definitely more dangerous on the ground where Ronnie Brown has been averaging more than five yards per carry en route to a 311-yard first quarter of the season.

Miami's special teams are paced by former Giants kicker Jay Feely and the very dangerous Ted Ginn, who returns both kickoffs and punts.

After those three key contests, the Giants enjoy their bye week. And without getting ahead of ourselves too much here, several of the Giants' final seven games don't quite look as tough as they did when the schedule was released. Trips to Detroit and Chicago will certainly be no picnic, but there's no question that they shouldn't be as tough as figured when the scheduled was released in April, especially the visit to the defending NFC Champion Bears. A split here would be great.

In between those games, New York hosts Minnesota, a game in which they're likely to be favored. Then follows a pair of division games against clubs the Giants have already beaten – at Philadelphia and versus Washington. You'd figure at least a 1-1 mark here would be expected – and fine.

Finally, the Giants wrap up the year with a game in Buffalo, once again a contest that looked ever more daunting before the season actually got underway. New York finishes the year by hosting the Patriots, who will likely be 14-1 and already resting all their starters for the playoffs at that point.

Like Fassel always used to say, it's not who you play, but when you play them. If the Giants catch some of these teams at the right time, things might just shape up for New York to make quite a run to the postseason. If Big Blue can just handle the games it is expected and favored to win, we'll all see the Giants playing extra football for the third consecutive season.

The Giants Beat Top Stories