Team Giants


Special Report

Sent: 02-22-21

Dave Klein was the Giants' beat writer for The Star-Ledger from 1961 to 1995.
He is the author of 26 books and he was one of only three sportswriters to have covered all the Super Bowls up until last year. Dave has allowed TEAM GIANTS to reprint some of his articles.

Guest Columnist

By Reggie Leach
This time of year is always difficult for pro football fans. The Super Bowl has come and gone, we're still a month away from NFL free agency and over two months away until the NFL Draft. And worst of all, we're seven months away until the start of the 2021 regular season. With nothing but time on our hands until the start of the new season, all we can do is look ahead and envision what changes/upgrades teams will make this offseason as 31 teams will be looking to dethrone the reigning Super Bowl Champions Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

The Giants will be one of the most intriguing teams heading into next season. Despite finishing the season 6-10, Big Blue showed up as a team on the rise, winning five of the final eight games and displaying one of the best defenses in the league. The Giants showed that they have what it takes to compete with the best the NFL has to offer as they nearly defeated the eventual Super Bowl Champion Bucs in Week Eight at MetLife Stadium, losing 25-23. If not for two costly Daniel Jones interceptions and unable to convert a two-point conversion at the end of the game, the Giants would have pulled off the upset.

Big Blue will get another shot at the Bucs this season as the two teams will meet in Tampa. This matchup is becoming an annual game as 2021 will mark the fifth consecutive season the two teams have played each other; they split the previous four matchups. We won't know the exact week these two teams will play each other until the NFL releases its schedule, but there's a strong possibility they may play in the NFL season opener on Thursday Night Football.

As we all know, the reigning Super Bowl champions inaugurate the new NFL season by unveiling their championship banner and hosting the first game. Sure, the NFL could decide to have the Bucs face another team in the season opener, but there would be many intriguing storylines if these two kicked off the 2021 season. For one, there's always great interest anytime Tom Brady faces the Giants. For his career, Brady is 5-3 against the Giants, but two of those losses came on the sport’s biggest stage as the Giants defeated the 18-0 Patriots in Super Bowl XLII, 17-14, and four years later they beat Brady again, 21-17, in XLVI.

Brady's legacy is forever secured as it's unlikely any quarterback will surpass his seven Super Bowl victories and 10 Super Bowl appearances. But the biggest dent in Brady's legacy is the fact that the Giants are the only franchise he's never defeated in his Super Bowl battles, and in both games he was outplayed by Eli Manning.

Another reason why it would be ideal to have the Giants play the Bucs in the season opener is that it will mark the return of one of the best players in the league, running back Saquon Barkley, who’s 2020 season ended abruptly in Week Two against the Chicago Bears when he tore his ACL.
All signs point to Barkley making a full recovery and to once again being the workhorse in the Giants' offense. Clearly, his return is one of the reasons many feel the Giants will be a playoff team next season.

The Giants versus the Bucs has all the elements you’d want to kick off your season and get the highest viewership possible.
On one side you have the defending Super Bowl champions with the greatest and most accomplished quarterback of all time, and on the other side you have the franchise that has victimized him the most and has one of the best players in the league making his return after missing nearly a full season.

There's also the storyline of defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul once again facing the team that traded him to the Buccaneers following the 2017 season. It's safe to say that trade has backfired on general manager Dave Gettleman. JPP has shown he can still play at a high level as he made the Pro Bowl this season and played a pivotal role in the Bucs’ run to the Super Bowl. The Giants are still looking for an adequate replacement for JPP - they're still in need of a dynamic edge rusher.

The NFL will officially release its schedule in the spring, and when it does don’t be surprised if the first game of the season is the Giants taking on the Buccaneers. It makes too much sense not to happen.

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