Saquon Barkley  of the Giants against the Arizona Cardinals at...

Saquon Barkley  of the Giants against the Arizona Cardinals at MetLife Stadium on Sunday, Oct. 20, 2019. Credit: Jim McIsaac

The Giants know which team they’re playing in the 2021 opener. Now they wait to see which quarterback it will be.

The NFL announced the first week of matchups (plus a few other games) on Wednesday morning, hours before it was due to officially unveil the complete schedule for its first 17-game season at 8 p.m. on Wednesday. The Giants will open the regular season at home on Sept. 12 with a 4:25 p.m. game against the Broncos.

While the game could be pegged as the return of Pat Shurmur, the former Giants coach who now serves as the offensive coordinator for the Broncos, there are far more interesting story lines for that meeting. The Broncos are one of the teams many believe could be a landing place for Aaron Rodgers if he parts ways with the Packers. That would allow the reigning MVP of the league to make his regular-season debut in a Denver uniform against the Giants in a nationally televised game. If Rodgers remains in Green Bay, or winds up on a different team, the Broncos’ current quarterback depth chart includes Drew Lock and Teddy Bridgewater.

The Week 1 game also figures to mark the return of Saquon Barkley from ACL surgery that sidelined him for most of the 2020 season. Barkley remains on track for a full comeback this coming season.

Perhaps most significant, though, will be the presumptive return of fans to MetLife Stadium. Due to the pandemic, the Giants played their home games in an empty stadium last season. While there has been no official determination of how many fans will be allowed in once September rolls around — New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy said earlier this week that the prospects of a full house for Giants and Jets homes games is "pretty good" — there will almost certainly be some percentage of spectators in attendance.

That will give Giants fans their first in-person look at Joe Judge, Logan Ryan, James Bradberry, Blake Martinez and Xavier McKinney in action for the team in a home game (presumably there were some Giants fans who managed to attend road games last season). It will also be the first time those players and coaches are able to run through the tunnel at MetLife Stadium and be greeted by a full-throated assemblage of Giants fans.

The rest of the Giants’ schedule will be released on Wednesday evening, but according to various other sources and reports they will play at Washington on Thursday night in Week 2 (Sept. 16), host the Eagles in Week 12 (Nov. 28) and the Cowboys in Week 15 (Dec. 19), play in Philadelphia in Week 16 (Dec. 26) and close the regular season at home against Washington on Jan. 9. Their bye will come in Week 10 (Nov. 14).

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