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Let me first start off by saying this: Of course, every NFL game is a must-win. Even with an extra one on the schedule this season, there’s still only 17 to make or break a playoff spot. Players, coaches and everyone in between recognizes that.
But things must be a little tense in the Giants’ locker room at the moment. They are 0-2, coming off a crushing loss that should’ve been a win on the road. Co-owner John Mara has also spoken several times about needing to see results on the field, and about how moral victories no longer suffice.
So, as the Atlanta Falcons – another 0-2 team – come to MetLife Stadium on Sunday, the pressure is on to get the monkey off everyone’s backs in blue and white. The Giants need a win, and it’s even more important when you look at their upcoming schedule.
This Falcons matchup is a winnable situation on the Giants’ home turf. But it’s hard to find an advantageous game for New York looking at their next five contests. Here they are:
Week 4: @ New Orleans Saints
Week 5: @ Dallas Cowboys
Week 6: vs. Los Angeles Rams
Week 7: vs. Carolina Panthers
Week 8: @ Kansas City Chiefs (Monday Night Football)
Jameis Winston is always an up-in-the-air quarterback, as he could rip the top of the defense with multiple deep touchdown passes or turn the ball over. Still, it’s the Saints in a road game.
Then, Dak Prescott might have a little revenge on his mind in Week 5. After all, Logan Ryan was the one who ended his 2020 season, falling on his ankle and causing a compound fracture while making a tackle. It was obviously not intentional, but Prescott will want this division win and the Cowboys’ offense has already shown it can light up the scoreboard.
The Rams, even coming to MetLife, is self-explanatory. The last time they were in the tri-state area, the Giants suffered one of their worst losses in franchise history, a 51-17 beatdown.
The Carolina Panthers have also been a surprise to start the new season, heading into a Thursday Night Football game where they are favorites to go 3-0 against the Houston Texans. Sam Darnold has found quick chemistry with DJ Moore and Christian McCaffrey, and of course, Robby Anderson is a familiar face as well. With OC Joe Brady at the helm, they’ve been an offensive force early.
And then let’s all be honest: Patrick Mahomes, Travis Kelce and Tyreek Hill at home on Monday Night Football. The Giants should simply hope they can keep it close through 60 minutes and not let the damage get too bad.
Even looking after that, the Las Vegas Raiders come in Week 9, then a bye, then the Tampa Bay Buccaneers – another Monday Night bout – in Raymond James Stadium.
There’s a really tough road ahead, so momentum will be key for this Giants squad. But there is one key positive.
Daniel Jones’ play in Week 2 was an almost-perfect performance that required guts, his speedy legs, and dimes thrown left and right. Even with the loss, it’s gotta feel good for Jones and the rest of the offense that things clicked for him after a shaky Week 1 debut.
The Falcons are a team that has given up 32 and 40 points in back-to-back weeks, so the Giants should be able to find the end zone and get points throughout this game if Jones plays the same way he did against the Washington Football Team.
As for the defense, Matt Ryan may not be too mobile, but he can get hot if he finds rhythm and has time in the pocket. The Falcons also possess playmakers like Calvin Ridley, Kyle Pitts and Cordarrelle Patterson, who all have the ability to break out chunk plays that hurt. With a surprisingly slow start, the Giants’ defense could use this game to make a statement, showing they can correct themselves and play like the unit everyone saw in 2020.
Again, the Giants can catch fire at any time this season. They did so last season without all the additions to the roster they made this past offseason. But 0-3 is not where any team wants to be because the Giants were there in 2020 and understand how hard it is to climb out of that hole. Their midseason winning streak last year still had them under .500 and barely hanging on in the lowly NFC East title race.
Also, who knows what these other teams will be doing when the Giants are next on their schedule. But we can still say all of these upcoming teams are playoff contenders as of right now, and the Giants should have that same mindset.
If they want to compete for a playoff spot, they need to get the ball rolling now. New York has the perfect opponent, with their fans around them, to make it happen. Hell, even Eli Manning is having his number placed in the Ring of Honor at halftime. All the good vibes will be present in East Rutherford on Sunday.
But the Giants know they need to get the job done. And though the sole focus is on the Falcons, they also see what’s lying ahead on the schedule.
The pressure is on.