By Michael Stewart
Introduction: The Giants are off to a 0-3 start for the 1st time since 2013 and will now limp home to face the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Tampa (1-1) will also be limping in after a convincing lost to the Minnesota Vikings 34-17. Both teams are struggling, so something has to give when these two teams face off on Sunday.
The Giants offense finally found success by scoring 24 points, but it wasn’t because of their running game; which has only accounted for a total of 146 yards over the 1st three games. The Giants are allowing 23.3 points per game and 334.3 yards per game defensively; which is not what the team envisioned entering the season. The Buccaneers are relying on the Giants to continue their losing ways. Offensively, QB Jameis Winston is completing 65.7 of his passes to his usual targets in WR Mike Evans and DeSean Jackson. Tampa has also struggle in running the ball averaging only 71.5 yards per game led by RB jacquizz Rodgers with only 82 yards. Defensively, the Buccaneers are allowing 20.5 points per game and 402 yards per game; led by LBer Lavonte David (doubtful for Sunday), DT Gerald McCoy and DE Noah Spence.
Top 4 Matchups:
- Giants running game-vs-Buccaneers running game: Hard to imagine that two teams with such a poor running game need to establish one as this will arguably be the two worse running attacks in the NFL facing off on Sunday (Giants ranked 30th & the Buccaneers at 31st). Although I expect both teams leaning more towards the passing game; an effective running game would make it a lot easier to air it out, control the line of scrimmage and win the battle of time of possession.
- Eli Manning-vs-Buccaneers secondary:
The Giants found success offensively last week against the Eagles with their advertised WR’s in OBJ, Shepard and Marshall as all three had solid games. I look for this trend to continue; while also rookie TE Evan Engram finding success as well against a very dismal Tampa secondary.
- Jameis Winston-vs-Giants defense: The Giants defense is showing some cracks in its armor thus far and QB Jameis Winston is more than capable of capitalizing on that. Winston will not hesitate to extend the field and look to go deep on an Giants secondary that doesn’t defend well in deep coverage. WR’s Mike Evans and DeSean Jackson will both get the opportunity to test the Giants secondary with deep routes. The Giants front 7 must put enough pressure on Winston to disrupt his timing and force him into mistakes; which he is prone to do.
- Turnovers: This could be the most important matchup to determine the outcome of the game as both teams have committed a few turnovers each this season. The Giants could have an edge here and could force Winston into forcing a few passes into tight spots.
What to look for: I expect both teams to try to establish some type of a running game to ultimately utilize their explosive passing attack. It wouldn’t be a surprise if both QB’s throw 40+ passes each with some success. Defensively; both teams need to have a big game if they expect to win. The Giants have an edge here as they do have more playmakers to decide the outcome of this game. The Bucs weakness is their secondary and their front 7 could suffer a major blow if LBer Lavonte David does not play; which is being reported. Finally; I expect the Bucs to utilize rookie TE O.J Howard a little more and it will be interest to watch the two rookie TE’s (Engram and Howard) facing off.
Final Score: This could be one of those games that whichever team has the ball last; could win as both teams are capable of airing it out. The team that can utilize their strengths better and capitalize on the other teams mistakes should come out the winner. I would like to believe that the Giants recent success offensively against a decent Eagles defense was not a mirage and hopefully this trend should continue against a much weaker defense. I’m projecting that the Giants offense will find success in the end zone and their defense will out play Tampa’s defense.
Final Score: Giants-27 Buccaneers-20