On Tuesday, the National Football League unveiled its 2009 regular season schedule and both occupants of the present Meadowlands/Giants Stadium (depending on which team is playing at home that particular day) will receive national exposure a total of seven times. The Giants will bid farewell to their home since 1976 with a Sunday Night Football contest on October 25 versus the defending NFC champions Arizona Cardinals and another NBC game versus their division rivals, the Philadelphia Eagles, on December 13.
The Jets? Without the fanfare of Brett Favre and their December collapse, they will have to go on the road for their two prime time affairs – an ESPN Monday Night Football game at Miami (October 12) and in Montreal for what is considered a Buffalo Bills home game on Thursday, December 3 on the NFL Network.
For the sideline boss of Gang Green, finally seeing where and when his team will be was a sign of good things. “We got the schedule today and I am fired up about the coming season,” Rex Ryan said. “This will be my first season as a head coach and the schedule is filled with challenges, but our coaching staff and players have been working hard and I know that we will be ready.”
On the plate in Week One for the Jets is a road game versus the Texans, the first time in 22 years that they have opened up the season in the big state. Back then it was the Houston Oilers on the short end of a 20-0 score at the ‘Eighth Wonder of the World,’ otherwise known as the Astrodome.
The home opener a week later will bring a familiar foe into East Rutherford as the Patriots make the trip south for the fourth consecutive year. Things do not get any easier as the Tennessee Titans are up next and they will be looking to avenge the Jets’ Week 12 win last year that snapped their 10-game winning streak. Other notable games on the schedule are at Indianapolis (December 27) and – barring any post-season home games – the last dance at the old building on January 3 versus Cincinnati.
In 2010, both teams will move into the brand new stadium right next door and the Giants would love to close out an era with a better showing than last year’s Divisional Round playoff loss to the Eagles. They open things up on September 13 at home versus the Redskins then go on a three-game road trip to Dallas, Tampa Bay and Kansas City.
Big Blue will have the evening game on the NFL Network on Thanksgiving Day at Denver then have three division games after that, at home versus Dallas and Philadelphia and at Washington. A tough stretch, indeed, something not lost on head coach Tom Coughlin, who noted the advantage of having the bye in Week 10.
“We play nine games before the bye – I think that’s better for us,” he said to reporters, commenting on the early Week 4 week off in 2008. “The bye gives the players, I think, an opportunity to play a long stretch against high-quality opponents and then have a little break.”
For the second consecutive season, the G-Men finish up at Minnesota (January 3) and will look to springboard into the playoffs on a higher note than last year when they lost by a field goal at the final gun.
Of course, the NFL’s flexible scheduling in the season’s final seven weeks make all of those games tentative and officially considered “To Be Announced” for a starting time. Depending on where both teams are at that point in the season will determine their schedule, with NBC getting the opportunity to switch their night game to show a better match-up than what was put on the charts months in advance.
If Ryan and Coughlin’s troops do their jobs, both teams may end up with more national games than the seven planned now. First things first, though.