John Fennelly, Lead WriterFor openers, in a normal year, today would be Round One of the NFL Draft but the league was forced to move it two weeks back due to availability issues. The Rockettes had the Hall booked for their spring show, which was subsequently cancelled last month. It was too late, however, for the league to change it’s plans.
The NFL dropped their 2014 regular season schedule last night and the Giants will open the season on a Monday night in Detroit. They will play a total of five nationally-televised contests this season and play 12 of their 16 games in the Eastern Time Zone.
SNYGiants insider Ralph Vacchiano on the 2014 schedule:
As for difficulty, the schedule is ranked the 26th toughest in the league, but that is no comfort to head coach Tom Coughlin.
“It’s a difficult and challenging schedule, as we knew it would be,” Coughlin said. “We play a lot of very good teams. We’re playing some teams that we haven’t played for a while that feature some key, key ingredients, some teams that are building and growing and teams with new coaches, guys I have a lot of respect for.”
“We do have any number of outstanding games in a row, because in addition to the NFC East, (we face) the NFC West and the AFC South. The NFC West is a very strong division and certainly continues to be strong. Seattle won the Super Bowl, San Francisco played in the NFC Championship Game, you look at the improvement in the Arizona team and the way they played, particularly toward the end of the year. And the way in which the St. Louis defensive team has played, their quarterback (Sam Bradford) being injured but coming back.”
“That’s a very tough challenge and that’s to say nothing about the fact that we really haven’t been in that AFC South for a while. We played Atlanta a couple years ago. They’ve made drastic changes with their team. You saw Jacksonville improve. Houston has a new coach and with (Bill) O’Brien there and the first pick of the draft…so there are a lot of interesting factors that go into taking a look at this.”
The Giants will open their season Monday night, Sept. 8, at Detroit against the Lions at 7:10 p.m.
“We’re not opening in the division, which is kind of a rarity,” coach Tom Coughlin said. “We know how talented Detroit is.”
The opener will be the Giants’ second consecutive road game in Detroit; they defeated the Lions, 23-20, in overtime in Ford Field last Dec. 22. But whatever advantage they might have gained from their familiarity Detroit is likely mitigated because the Lions have a new head coach in Jim Caldwell.
The game will be the Giants’ first Monday night season opener since Sept. 10, 2001, when they lost at Denver, 31-20.
After their trip to Detroit, the Giants will come home for a pair of 1 o’clock games against Arizona and Houston.
On Thursday night, Sept. 25, the Giants will play their first NFC East game, against the Redskins in Washington. It is the third consecutive season the Giants will play a night game in FedEx Field. They won a Sunday night game there, 24-17, last Dec. 1.
“We’re on our fourth game before we do get a divisional game. I think that’s an interesting thing,” Coughlin said.
The Giants will return home on Sunday, Oct. 5 to face the Atlanta Falcons in MetLife Stadium at 1 p.m.
After the Falcons visit, the Giants will play two more division road games, Sunday night, Oct. 12 at Philadelphia at 8:30 and Sunday, Oct. 19 at Dallas, a 4:25 kickoff.
The Giants will have their annual bye on Sunday, Oct. 26.
“The bye, again, is in a good spot for us,” Coughlin said. .
They will return with perhaps their toughest stretch of the season. On Monday night, Nov. 3, the Giants will host quarterback Andrew Luck and the Indianapolis Colts. Kickoff is set for 8:30 p.m.
The Giants will then have a quick turnaround before taking their longest trip of the season. The following Sunday, Nov. 9, they will be in Seattle to face the champion Seahawks at 4:25. A week later, they will host the San Francisco 49ers, the team Seattle beat in the NFC Championship Game, at 1 p.m.
On Nov. 23, the Giants will host the rematch with Dallas in their final scheduled prime time game at 8:30.
The Giants then head back out on the road, with a game in Jacksonville on Nov. 30 and in Tennessee on Dec. 7.
A week later, the Giants will return home to face Washington at 1 p.m. On Dec. 21, they will play their final road game of the season in St. Louis at 4:05. The Giants will end their season at home against Philadelphia on Dec. 28.
Some highlights from the Giants’ 2014 schedule:
*The Giants will play five games against 2013 playoff teams: Philadelphia, San Francisco and Indianapolis at home and the Eagles and defending Super Bowl champion Seattle on the road.
*The Giants will play four teams with new head coaches: Washington (Jay Gruden), Houston (Bill O’Brien), Tennessee (Ken Whisenhunt) and Detroit (Jim Caldwell).
*The Giants this season play the NFC West and AFC South, the divisions that had the best and worst combined records, respectively, in the NFL in 2013. The four teams in the NFC West were 42-22 (.656), five games better than the next best division, the AFC West (37-27, .578). The NFC West was the only division with three clubs reaching double-digit victory totals (Seattle 13-3, San Francisco 12-4 and Arizona 10-6), and the lone division that featured four teams with winning records at home (7-9 St. Louis was 5-3 in the Edward Jones Dome).
The AFC South (Indianapolis, Houston, Jacksonville and Tennessee) were a combined 24-40 (.375).
*The Giants will start the season with a prime time game for the third season in a row. They lost to Dallas at home in 2012 and on the road last year.
*The Giants will open their season against an opponent outside the NFC East for the first time since 2010, when they defeated Carolina in the first regular-season game in MetLife Stadium.
*The Giants will open their season both in Detroit and against the Lions for the first time since Sept. 17, 1972, a 30-16 loss.
*They will open the season on a Monday night for the first time since a 31-20 loss in Denver on Sept. 10, 2001.
*The Giants are 23-33-1 on Monday night, including 8-8 at home and 15-25-1 on the road. They won their only Monday night game in 2013, defeating Minnesota, 23-7, on Oct. 21.
*The Giants are 19-23-1 on Sunday night, including 9-11 at home and 10-12-1 on the road. Last season, they lost at Dallas and won at Washington on Sunday night.
*The Giants will play all three of their NFC East road games – at Washington, Philadelphia and Dallas – in a four-week span from Sept. 25 to Oct. 19.
*The Giants’ final three home games are against NFC East foes Dallas, Washington and Philadelphia.
*When the Giants last visited Jacksonville and Tennessee in 2006, they did so on consecutive weeks on Nov. 20 and 26. Eight years later, they will again travel to the same cities in the same order on Nov. 30 and Dec. 5.
*The Giants will end their regular season at home for the fourth consecutive season and for the second time in three years vs. the Eagles.
*The Giants will open their five-game preseason schedule on Sunday night, Aug. 3 at 8 p.m., against the Buffalo Bills in the NFL/Hall of Fame Game in Canton, Ohio’s Fawcett Stadium.
The remainder of the preseason schedule has been finalized. They will host the Pittsburgh Steelers on Saturday, Aug. 9 at 7:30. The following week, Saturday, Aug. 16, they will face the Colts in Indianapolis at 7 p.m.
The Giants will be the visiting team when they face the Jets in their annual preseason meeting on Friday, Aug. 22 at 7:30 p.m. They will conclude the preseason on Thursday, Aug. 28, at home vs. New England at 7:30.
The Giants were 1-3 in the preseason in 2012, beating Pittsburgh in their opener before losing to Indianapolis, the Jets and the Patriots. They are 19-21 in the preseason in Coughlin’s 10 years as head coach.
*Flex scheduling will commence earlier than it has in the past, with modifications.
For the first time, flexible scheduling may be applied in Weeks 5-10. During that period, flexible scheduling can be used in no more than two weeks by shifting a Sunday afternoon game into primetime and moving the Sunday night game to an afternoon start time.
Also, for the first time, a select number of games are being “cross-flexed,” moving between CBS and FOX to bring potentially under-distributed games to wider audiences.
“Flexible scheduling” will be used in Weeks 11-17 as it has been in recent years. In Weeks 11-16, the schedule lists the games tentatively set for Sunday Night Football on NBC. Only Sunday afternoon games are eligible to be moved to Sunday night, in which case the tentatively scheduled Sunday night game would be moved to an afternoon start time. Flexible scheduling will not be applied to games airing on Thursday, Saturday or Monday nights. A flexible scheduling move would be announced at least 12 days before the game. For Week 17, the Sunday night game will be announced no later than six days prior to December 28. The schedule does not list a Sunday night game in Week 17, but an afternoon game with playoff implications will be moved to that time slot. Flexible scheduling ensures quality matchups in all Sunday time slots in those weeks and gives “surprise” teams a chance to play their way into primetime.