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Breaking Down The Giants' 2013 Schedule

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Photo by Jared Wickerham/Getty Images.
Photo by Jared Wickerham/Getty Images.

Well, it's finally here. The official start of the 2013 NFL season arrives on Thursday night in Denver, and the New York Giants will open their season 72 hours later in the newly named AT&T Stadium in Dallas (a.k.a. the Giants' home away from home).

The Giants have gotten somewhat of a break this season in facing the AFC West, one of the league's weaker divisions. However, there are still some tough stretches in their schedule this season that will undoubtedly test them. Let's break it down and see what lies ahead for Big Blue over the next 17 weeks.

The Giants will start off the season with two fairly big games against two tough opponents: at the Cowboys on Sunday night to open the season, and then then back home against Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos for their home opener at MetLife Stadium. While the Giants are a perfect 4-0 in Dallas since the new stadium opened back in 2009, a game against a division rival to start the season is never a walk in the park. Things don't get any easier for the Giants in Week 2 when they face one of the favorites for this year's Super Bowl, the Denver Broncos. Eli Manning is 0-2 against his older brother in two meetings thus far, losing at home to the Colts in 2006 in the inaugural Manning Bowl and then again in 2010 in Indianapolis. While this matchup up won't have quite the fanfare that those two games did, it's still a huge game early on in the schedule for the Giants.

Things get a bit easier after that, as the Giants will travel to Charlotte to play the Carolina Panthers in Week 3 for the second consecutive season. Last year, injuries to Ahmad Bradshaw and Hakeem Nicks paved the way for breakout performances from Andre Brown and Ramses Barden as the Giants dismantled Cam Newton and the Panthers. There's a possibility that this can be the first, real must-win game for the Giants — especially if they fall into an early 0-2 pit with losses to Dallas and Denver.

After Carolina, they'll head to Kansas City to face a familiar foe in Andy Reid and the Chiefs. Reid knows the Giants quite well, and has had a lot of success against them over the last decade in Philadelphia. And despite Kansas City's apparent weaknesses, it's never a good idea to look past an Andy Reid-coached team.

Speaking of Philadelphia, matchups with the Eagles will bookend the month of October, with a meeting in Week 5 at home, followed by a rematch in Week 8 in Philadelphia right before the bye week. In between those two meetings with the Eagles, the Giants will face two NFC North opponents in the Chicago Bears and the Minnesota Vikings in Week 6 and 7, respectively. They will play the Bears in Chicago for the first time since December 2007 when a late comeback engineered by Manning spurred the Giants on to victory and set them on their path to an eventual Super Bowl title. The game will be a Thursday night game and will give the team 10 whole days to rest up and prepare for the Monday Night matchup with Minnesota in Week 8. The Giants are no strangers to playing two primetime games in a row — they did so on two separate occasions last season, going 1-1 in both sets.

The Giants should be in pretty good shape if they can make it to the bye week with a 5-3 record or better. However, they may want to give themselves some extra cushion for the second half of the season, given their propensity for late-season struggles.

The Giants' season will be split directly down the middle with their bye week coming in Week 9. For the third straight season, the Giants will be put to the test in the weeks following their bye. In 2011, they faced a gauntlet of New England, San Francisco, Philadelphia, New Orleans, Green Bay and Dallas in the second half of the season. Last year, they were dealt Green Bay, Washington, New Orleans, Atlanta and Baltimore. This year, they'll ease their way into the second half of the season with a home game against the Oakland Raiders — a game that should allow the Giants a chance to gather some momentum before heading into a tough three-game stretch that will include Green Bay, Dallas and Washington.

Two of those three games will be on primetime, with the matchup against Aaron Rodgers and the Packers taking place at home on Sunday Night Football and the matchup against RGIII and the Redskins in Washington also on Sunday night. In between those two big games against 2012 playoff teams will be another meeting with the Dallas Cowboys — this time at home where Dallas has won two of their last three.

The final quarter of the season will begin with a trip out to the West Coast for a meeting with the San Diego Chargers — a place where the Giants haven't won since 1998, when their starting quarterback was Kent Graham. After San Diego, they'll return home to face Russell Wilson and the Seattle Seahawks — a team that has emerged as a legitimate contender alongside the 49ers in the NFC West. Finally, the Giants will close the regular season out on the road against the Detroit Lions in Week 16 and then at home against the Washington Redskins in Week 17.

A subpar 4-4 or 3-5 second half of the season will most likely not be enough to get the Giants into the playoffs this season, so it's important that they finish strong over those final three or four weeks. But as we all know, it's almost impossible to predict how an NFL season will turn out, so it's about time we got started so we can see how it all plays out.