Giants’ full schedule for 2021 NFL season

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The Giants open and close their 2021 season at home, play three primetime games — including two “Monday Night Football” road games against the mighty Chiefs and Buccaneers — and get a bye week near midseason in Joe Judge’s second year as head coach.

Like snowbirds, the Giants in the back-end of the season get to leave the cold for the warmth of Florida. They have a rough stretch early (at New Orleans, at Dallas, vs. the Rams) and face NFC East opponents three times in their last four games.

Here is the full slate:

Week 1: vs. Broncos

Sept. 12

Giants get to open up at home against a team that went 5-11 in 2020. Will it be Drew Lock, or perhaps Aaron Rodgers at quarterback? Denver’s offensive coordinator, Pat Shurmur, went 9-23 in two dismal seasons (2018 and 2019) as the Giants’ head coach.  Revenge game? Nah, probably not.

Week 2: at Washington

Sept. 16

It’s a quick turnaround for the Giants with this Thursday night primetime game, but it’s a short train ride to Landover, Md., so that helps. Giants won at FedEx Field in 2020 — Joe Judge’s first NFL victory. This could be Ryan Fitzpatrick running the show on offense, at 38 years old, which would be the fifth different starting quarterback in the past five home openers for Washington.

Week 3: vs. Falcons

Sept. 26

This will be a good chance to see just how mighty the Giants’ defensive backfield actually is, going against uber-talented tight end Kyle Pitts, the Falcons’ first-round draft pick. Can newly signed CB Adoree’ Jackson handle this assignment? This will be labeled a home game the Giants need to win, considering the Falcons are coming off a dreadful 4-12 season.

Week 4: at Saints

Oct. 3

It won’t be Eli Manning and Drew Brees slinging it around inside the Mercedes-Benz Superdome, so Daniel Jones vs. Jameis Winston (or Taysom Hill) will have to suffice.  Giants first-round pick Kadarius Toney says he models some of his game after Alvin Kamara and the Giants hope some of that elusiveness rubs off on the rookie wide receiver.

Week 5: at Cowboys

Oct. 10

The last time the Giants played inside AT&T Stadium, Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott went down in the third quarter on a perfectly legal tackle by Logan Ryan, lost for the remainder of the season with a compound ankle fracture and dislocation. Nearly a year to the day later, Prescott, healed, takes aim at the Giants again.

Week 6: vs. Rams

Oct. 17

The Giants hung in with the Rams in Week 4 last season but could not generate a single touchdown in a 17-9 loss, indicative of the defensive fortitude and offensive doldrums that characterized their entire 2020 campaign. Yes, that is Matt Stafford now playing quarterback for the Rams.  

Week 7: vs. Panthers

Oct. 24

Lots and lots of connections here. Dave Gettleman was the Panthers’ general manager from 2013-17. James Bradberry is a former Carolina cornerback. New Panthers quarterback Sam Darnold used to play that position for the other NFL team that calls MetLife Stadium home. And, lest we forget, Matt Rhule, and not Judge, likely would have been the Giants head coach had he not been blown over by a $60 million contract to work in Charlotte.

Week 8: at Chiefs

Nov. 1

You want to be the best, you have to beat the best. But on “Monday Night Football” at Arrowhead Stadium, one of the loudest buildings in the league? Good luck with that.  Everyone knows how great Patrick Mahomes is and a national television audience gets to see if defensive coordinator Patrick Graham has the goods to slow down this greatness.

Week 9: vs. Raiders

Nov. 7

The last time these teams squared off was late in the 2017 season, in Oakland, the infamous Geno Smith in, Eli Manning out fiasco that remains a franchise lowlight. This time, the Raiders fly in from Las Vegas and the Giants (Jabrill Peppers) need to contend with pass-catching terror tight end Darren Waller.  

Week 10: Bye

Week 11: at Buccaneers

Nov. 22

The Giants last season battled Tom Brady and the Bucs down to the wire on “Monday Night Football,” losing 25-23, so why not run it back again, this time on a Monday night in Tampa? Coming off their bye, the Giants get extra time and rest to prepare for the defending Super Bowl champs. They’ll need it.

Week 12: vs. Eagles

Nov. 28

Giants fans have to wait until Thanksgiving weekend to berate the despised Eagles, who tanked their 2020 regular-season finale to keep the Giants out of the playoffs, a maneuver that played into head coach Doug Pederson losing his job. The Eagles also traded up over the Giants in the NFL Draft to take Alabama WR DeVonta Smith, the player the Giants would have taken at No. 11.

Week 13: at Dolphins

Dec. 5

Dolphins head coach Brian Flores worked with Judge on the Patriots’ staff and they are building their teams in their own images. The Giants loved Jaylen Waddle and the Alabama yards-after-catch maven went No. 6 overall, reuniting with college teammate Tua Tagovailoa. Can one of their former Crimson Tide teammates, Xavier McKinney, help the Giants slow them down?

Week 14: at Chargers

Dec. 12

Justin Herbert at times was sensational as a rookie quarterback in 2020 and now he has Rashawn Slater — an offensive lineman the Giants passed over in the NFL Draft — blocking for him. This will be a good indication of how much progress Daniel Jones has shown in year No. 3, compared with how Herbert is playing in his second NFL season.

Week 15: vs. Cowboys

Dec. 19

The last time these teams played in New Jersey, both were alive for the division title in the moribund NFC East. The Giants eliminated the Cowboys 23-19, ending a seven-game losing streak. There were no fans in the building for that game, though. To prevent a Dallas fan invasion, the Giants need to be in playoff contention this late in the season. 

Week 16: at Eagles

Dec. 26

There is no more gruesome House of Horrors for the Giants than Lincoln Financial Field. The Giants have lost eight consecutive games in Philly and they’ve blown a double-digit lead to lose in three straight seasons. You name it, the Giants do it wrong on Pattison Ave.  

Week 17: at Bears

Jan. 2

This is an interesting one. The Giants facilitated the Bears nabbing Justin Fields in the NFL Draft, trading down from No. 11 to No. 20. Is Fields this late in the season an established starting quarterback or a struggling rookie? The Giants own the Bears’ 2022 first-round pick, so inflicting a loss at Soldier Field is a win-win.

Week 18: vs. Washington

Jan. 9

Will this matchup have playoff implications for either team? If so, the Giants get a break with a regular-season finale at home, where it figures to be cold for both sides and extremely inhospitable for the visiting team.

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