The defending Super Bowl champion New York Giants have the toughest schedule in 2012 (opponents had a combined winning percentage of .547 last season). Thus, they can't afford to take any games for granted this season. That's easier said than done, of course, so here's an advanced warning to Big Blue: Don't fall into the trap and overlook these three opponents!
@ Carolina Panthers (Week 3) -- Do you think Cam Newton will be fired up to face the defending Super Bowl champs in primetime on Thursday, September 20? Um, is Eli Manning clutch? The Panthers, who were 6-10 last season, won't be pushovers this year. They had the fifth-best offense in the league and won four of their last six games in 2011. Plus, the Giants may be looking forward to playing division rival Philadelphia in a primetime match-up on Sunday, September 30.
Cleveland Browns (Week 5) -- The Giants' home game against Cleveland on Sunday, October 7 is sandwiched between road games against Philadelphia and San Francisco. Moreover, the game against the 49ers will be a rematch of the 2011 NFC Championship Game. The Browns lost their last six games of 2011 and nine of their last 10, making them an easy team to disregard. On paper, this shapes up as Big Blue's easiest game of the season, making it the ultimate trap on the schedule.
@ Cincinnati Bengals (Week 10) -- The Giants will be coming off what figures to be a tough home game against the Pittsburgh Steelers when they visit the Bengals on Sunday, November 11. The Bengals finished a respectable 9-7 last season, but it's a easy to overlook a non-division opponent. Furthermore, the Giants may be looking forward to their week-11 bye and a week-12 grudge match against the Green Bay Packers, who they defeated in last year's Division round.
Which one of these trap games concerns you the most? Can the Giants win all of them? Let me know in the comments section below.
Adam Martini is a freelance sports writer who proudly wears his Rodney Hampton jersey on Sundays during the football season. He grew up in Queens, N.Y. rooting for the Giants despite being surrounded by Jets fans. You can follow Adam on Twitter @PegCitySports.