Dave Klein was the Giants' beat
writer for The Star-Ledger from 1961 to 1995.
He is the author of 26 books
and he is one of only three sportswriters to have covered all the Super Bowls.
Dave has allowed TEAM GIANTS to reprint some of his articles.
PLAYING QUARTERS: AN EARLY REVIEW OF THE 2016 SCHEDULE
Sure, the Giants and everyone else in the NFL just broke for their version of
summer vacation, but looming in the distance is this thing called the 2016 regular
More specifically, there is
this thing called the schedule, which lists, chronologically, the 16 games the
Giants must play and the teams they'll face.
Yes, of course you know what a schedule is, but in this lull between seasons -
training camp opens July 28 - it seems as good a time as any to review the schedule,
looking tough stretches, key games, specific beats and notes that could determine
the outcome of the season. There will be no easy weeks, except the bye, and any
comparison to the ridiculous Strength of Schedule analytic will be rejected by
this writer since so much has changed, both for the Giants and their 16 opponents.
There is a common notion, only sometimes credited to former head coach Tom Coughlin,
that the season can evenly be broken into quarters and that the goal of each team
should be to win three out of four games in each quarter, which would, in turn,
result in a 12-4 record.
Every NFL team
has 16 chances to win, that's all. However, a team could go 12-4 and miss the
playoffs or, rarely, go 8-8 and make it into the post-season. Still, there are
only 16 shots at it in 17 weeks. That means pro football teams have a lot to do
in a short time frame.
Time and the
perception of it. That's really what we're talking about here. In baseball, for
example, the season is made up of 162 games, basically over six months. So, each
month means something else - April is when teams see glimmers of good and bad;
May might show you what you have; in June you start to tinker and in July you
decide if you have a good team, if you need to make moves to compete a playoff
spot or if you want to bail out until next year.
Too slow. Every baseball season feels like forever, in my opinion, replete with
a sore lack of urgency.
like the 31 other NFL teams, have 16 chances in those 17 weeks to get it all done.
There is no waiting around to see what the team is going to be like. That's why
there's free agency, the Draft, Organized Team Activities, the off-season workout
program, the mini-camps, training camp and four preseason games. Once the season
begins, everything is at 100 miles an hour with no turning back and re-tooling.
Sure, teams can tinker a bit with the
roster, but no one move, save the return of a superstar from injury or suspension,
will blast the roster with energy and propel the team to new heights.
all that said, the Giants open the 2016 season on Sept. 11 in Dallas at 4:25 Eastern
in a meeting that, even though it will be Week 1, could carry implications with
it all the way into December and impact the postseason While one would like to
think that the Giants can win this first one and get a leg up on the East, don't
forget that they haven't won the first game of any season since 2010 when they
beat the Carolina Panthers, 31-18. That sounds bad, but also note that they lost
the season-openers in 2007 and 2011 ... on their way to Super Bowl championships.
Talk about the need for a quick start.
And remember, winning a division isn't the only way to make the playoffs as a
Wild Card is just as efficient. You have to be in it to win it, as the saying
FIRST QUARTER That season opener
in Dallas starts a stretch of the schedule that will see the Giants face seven
NFC foes in eight games, including two NFC East rivals. They'll come home on Sept.
18 to host the New Orleans Saints then the division winning Redskins on Sept.
25 before traveling to NFC North champion Minnesota on Oct. 3. Winning three out
of those four NFC games to kick off the season would go a long way toward setting
the Giants up for the long haul.
QUARTER Aiming toward the halfway mark, the Giants travel to Green Bay in Week
5 on Oct. 9 to face the Packers, another crucial conference rival - gotta pay
attention when it comes to the Wild Card spots - followed by a home game against
their first AFC team, Baltimore, on Oct. 16 and a trip to the new/old Los Angeles
Rams - in London -- before a well-needed bye comes on Oct. 30. The Giants could
win all three of those games and then have a weekend off to regroup before their
Nov. 6 clash against Philadelphia, the first time those two will meet this year.
THIRD QUARTER Once the season's halftime
passes, the Giants have three out of four non-conference games to play (these
can never be overlooked) as they finish out the AFC Central with games at home
against Cincinnati on Nov. 14 and then against NFC North hopeful Chicago on Nov.
20 before two road trips to the Rust Belt to play at Cleveland on Nov. 27 and
at Pittsburgh on Dec. 4.
Finally, the Giants finish out the final four weeks of the season against NFC
opponents, including all three division rivals, potentially making this quarter
of the season the most crucial if all goes well in the first 12 games. Home games
against Dallas and Detroit come before road games at Philly on Dec. 22 and at
Washington on New Year's Day. Perhaps the Giants will have run away with the division
by then, or perhaps they will be lurking in the basement. However, if the Giants
remain in the race, and there's no reason to think they won't, these two road
games against the Eagles and Redskins could make or break the Giants' season.
Is 3-1 in each quarter possible? Sure it is. So is 4-0... but so is 2-2, 1-3 or
0-4 in any one of them. That's why they play the games, right?
Send them over to email@example.com
me on Twitter @_AaronKlein_
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