COMMENTARY | Following an 0-2 start, it doesn't get any easier for the New York Giants as the 2013 NFL season progresses.
Big Blue will travel to Cam Newton and the Carolina Panthers in Week 3, and although the Giants handled Carolina 36-7 last season--also in Week 3 and in Bank of America Stadium--this is no cake walk for New York. Despite the 0-2 record, the Panthers can play. They rank sixth in the league in rushing yards, and could have very easily entered this matchup 1-1 if it weren't for a late-second defensive breakdown against the Buffalo Bills last Sunday.
While I do think the G-Men will get the win--I like Eli Manning to get back on track with at least three touchdown tosses and a Hakeem Nicks sighting--it's their schedule moving forward that has me wary.
Week 4 will see New York travel to the 3-0 Kansas City Chiefs, against a head coach in Andy Reid who's quite familiar with the Giants and their schemes. Next comes the rival Philadelphia Eagles at home in Week 5, and if you've seen the Eagles' offense this season and the Giants' defensive struggles, you'll see why there's cause for concern.
New York's next three matchups following the Philly game all come against quality NFC opponents in the Chicago Bears, Minnesota Vikings and the Eagles again, until the Giants hit their bye week in Week 9. New York split the season series with the Eagles in 2012 but could easily go 0-2 against them this season, especially with Chip Kelly's fast-paced offense. Ultimately, I think they wind up splitting the series again. The Vikings obviously threaten New York on the ground with Adrian Peterson, and an improved passing offense in Chicago could give the G-Men's defense trouble in Week 6.
Rounding out the Giants' schedule from Weeks 10 through 17 (in order) are the Oakland Raiders, Green Bay Packers, Dallas Cowboys, Washington Redskins, San Diego Chargers, Seattle Seahawks, Detroit Lions and the Redskins again to close out the regular season.
With the possible exception of the Raiders--who have a win on the season and rank a surprising fourth-best in the NFL in total defense--Big Blue has some tough matchups ahead of them.
Washington is going to get that offense figured out, and the Giants saw just how deadly Robert Griffin III can be in both of their matchups last season. We all know what Seattle's defense is capable of, and we already saw New York fall to the Cowboys in Week 1.
The Giants have had success against the Packers, but anytime you go up against Aaron Rodgers, your defense has to be ready -- and the Giants' defense certainly isn't ready for that type of test.
That said, I'm still sticking by my preseason pick of the G-Men winning the NFC East division. I think they have the best combination of offense and defense, even if it hasn't been displayed yet this season.
But mark my words: it's not going to be an easy season for the Giants, and their grueling schedule is the most contributing factor.
Pete Schauer is a native of the Jersey Shore where he covers the New York Giants, Brooklyn Nets and New York Yankees as a Yahoo Sports contributor. You can follow him on Twitter @Pete_Schauer and find him on Google+.
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