If the New York Giants are going to prove that last season's Super Bowl Championship wasn't a fluke, it looks like the NFL is going to make them do it the hard way— with another brutal regular season schedule.
It also looks like the NFL wants fans watch it play out on prime-time television.
The defending champions were well aware that— as winners of Super Bowl XLVI— they would be featured on a lot of night games against top-tier teams. Sticking to a proven format, the 2012 schedule maker didn't disappoint the viewing public and has the Giants playing three of them in the first four weeks.
They all won't be your typical 1 p.m. and 4 p.m. Sunday games on the Giants' schedule in 2012. They will be playing night games on a Wednesday— the NFL opener (Sept. 5) against the Dallas Cowboys— on a Thursday (Sept. 20 at Carolina), Sunday (Sept. 30 at Philadelphia and later in the season against the Packers) and on Monday night (Dec. 13 vs. the Redskins).
That's a longer prime-time run than either "Hellcats" or "S#*! My Dad Says" could boast. And no, neither of those shows had anything to do with the Jets or Rex Ryan.
Besides the nighttime match-ups, the Giants play six games down the stretch against four 2011 playoff teams— including the Packers and Saints— and two divisional games against the Eagles and Redskins.
In all, Big Blue will be playing seven games against 2011 playoff teams and six games against division rivals. Three "soft" games against the Buccaneers, Panthers and Browns come in the first five weeks of the season. After that, they play the most difficult non-division schedule (based on last year's records) in the NFL.
The Giants play all three of the NFC teams (the Falcons, Packers and 49ers) they defeated in the playoffs on their way to their Super Bowl victory over the New England Patriots. You can bet these teams will out for revenge.
Take note of the Oct. 14 game in San Francisco— where former Giants running back Brandon Jacobs and Super Bowl hero Mario Manningham now play. It will be played on the field where the Giants defeated the 49ers in overtime to advance to the big game. Last season's NFC Championship rematch should be a very "Special Episode."
The Giants' bye week is late — Week 11 (Sunday Nov. 18) and just how head coach Tom Coughlin wants it.
"I like the bye where it is, because it's closer to the middle of the season," he said about the late breather.
It also gives the Giants an extra week to prepare for the brutal stretch run against the Packers, at Washington, back home against the Saints, at Atlanta, at Baltimore, and winding up the season at home against the Eagles.
The Giants 2012 opponents' .547 winning percentage is the highest in the NFL but, after last year's amazing road to a championship, it shouldn't deter the veteran team from thinking repeat.
"We have a week-in and week-out challenge, not only in who we play, but with the different elements of our schedule," said Coughlin. "We play on four different days and we have five night games early, come home for a week and them go to San Francisco. Our people are going to have to be really good about it."
Sounds like 'Must See TV' to NFL fans or, to Giants supporters, 'Must Snee TV.'