Can you imagine what Monday would look and sound like in New York if the Bucs pulled this upset?
There would be weeping, wailing and gnashing of teeth, not to mention pure panic.
These are the defending Super Bowl champions. Losing to Dallas? Okay, they're shrugging that off as a wake up call. This week the Giants will be focused, ready, hitting on all cylinders.
Or will they?
Now that we've set the stage for you, let's have a look at the winning and losing formulas for the Buccaneers against the G-Men!
The Buccaneer Winning Formula
Nice lesson from the Dallas Cowboys. They were able to get a running game going and DeMarco Murray finished with a big night. Same for the Bucs, they must be able to run the football and Doug Martin needs help. You can't expect him to tote the entire load against this defense. No, you don't want him to take that kind of beating this early. Not sure LeGarrette Blount is up to the task. He did return to practice on Thursday. Hard to buy that "stinger" explanation. Teams don't send guys out for MRIs after a stinger. If not Blount, then D.J. Ware needs to help or maybe Michael Smith gets his shot.
Can the Bucs o-line stand up to the Giants d-line?
Josh Freeman needs to be more than the simple game manager he was last week. He'll also have to use his legs to escape pressure the way Tony Romo did. Romo was under heat from New York's pass rushers but managed to scramble around and find open receivers. Freeman can't expect to have much time in the pocket. The Giants have three Pro Bowl players up front—Jason Pierre Paul, Justin Tuck and Osi Umenyiora. And the big Pirate (East Carolina) Linval Joseph isn't bad either.
Freeman will have to do better than complete six passes to his wide receivers. Maybe Arrelious Benn will return to help out. If the Giants have a weakness, it is their secondary because it certainly isn't their front seven.
Whatever happens, it will take more than 16 points to beat the Giants.
Better passing, solid running and Freeman will have to have an outstanding afternoon. Game managing won't get it done this time. The offense needs to look like it did in the first half against Carolina.
On defense, the Bucs need to once again play fast and physical. They showed what pressure can do to a good quarterback and Cam Newton is a good quarterback. Eli Manning is on an entirely different level. If the front seven can't put pressure on Manning, it will be a long afternoon.
The linebackers are the key. If Gerald McCoy continues to play "Sappish," it will give them opportunities.
Will the Bucs be able to pressure Eli Manning?
The Cowboys defense made Ahmad Bradshaw look pretty ordinary. The Bucs need to do the same.
The secondary will need to play the way they did in the second half against Carolina. When the offense lost momentum, the secondary kept Carolina from grabbing it.
The Bucs have to force turnovers and win that battle. Quite frankly, the Giants need to help the Bucs if there's an upset to be had.
The Buccaneer Losing Formula
Let's start with the obvious—the Giants powerful defensive line exploits the Buccaneers' offensive weak links—Ted Larsen and Jeremy Trueblood. If Larsen starts getting stupid penalties that nullify nice plays, it will be a long afternoon. If Trueblood lets his man beat him easily, it will be a very long afternoon for Freeman.
If the Giants bow up and stuff the running game and turn the Bucs one dimensional, it will be a long afternoon for Josh and the guys. In the second half against Carolina, pressure on Freeman brought the offense to a screeching halt. If you think Carolina brings heat, wait until the Big Blue front four gets angry.
No pressure on Manning. If the Bucs give Eli time to throw, forget it.
Can the Bucs get more than 130 yards rushing on Sunday?
Lose the turnover battle. The Bucs had ZERO turnovers last week. They cannot afford any against the Giants. No interceptions, no fumbles, no muffed punts, no nothing like that. The Giants do not need any help to beat the Bucs. Help them and it's a long afternoon.
Josh Freeman can't find his wide receivers. Romo completed 16 passes to his wide receivers—Dez Bryant, Miles Austin and Kevin Ogletree. Ogletree was the guy who surprised the Giants. The Bucs need someone to do what he did. Step up!
That should just about cover it.
Two formulas, one for success, one for failure.
Hope for the best, prepare for the worst.
LeGarrette Blount returns to practice, Jeremy Trueblood on sidelines: OneBucSite.com