It's hard to imagine the defending champions opening this season 0-2, especially with the opportunity to rectify last week's loss at home. But the Bucs look like a young, confident team that intends to vie for a playoff spot this season, and they won't be intimidated.
Will the Giants get their passing game going and rediscover the offense that never showed up against the Dallas Cowboys? Or will the Bucs play sturdy defense and control the clock with a strong running game?
This is one of the more intriguing games on the Week 2 slate. Let's take a closer look at how this one will play out.
Where: Metlife Stadium, East Rutherford, New Jersey
When: Sunday, September 16 at 1 p.m. ET
Spread: Tampa Bay Bucs (+7), according to Bet Online.
I'm going to take the seven points with the Bucs in this one. While I think the Giants will win outright, I expect the Bucs to keep things close. They have the look of a surprise playoff contender this season, while the Giants looked lackluster in the loss to Dallas. New York will win, but it won't be pretty.
Over/Under: 44, according to Bet Online.
I would go with the under in this one. I have a feeling that both defenses will play well. The Bucs looked strong defensively (namely in the secondary) against the Carolina Panthers, but I think that the Giants pass rush will disrupt Josh Freeman all game long.
Bucs Injuries (via ESPN)
WR Arrelious Benn, Knee, Probable
RB LeGarrette Blount, Stinger, Probable
Giants Injuries (via ESPN)
DT Chris Canty, Knee, Out
CB Terrell Thomas, Knee, Injured Reserve
WR Hakeem Nicks, Foot, Questionable
CB Prince Amukamara, Ankle, Questionable
CB Michael Coe, Questionable
Bucs Fantasy Impact
Doug Martin and Vincent Jackson should start. Mike Williams is a decent flex in deep leagues. I wouldn't trust Josh Freeman or the Bucs defense, however.
Giants Fantasy Impact
If you have them, you pretty much have to start Eli Manning, Ahmad Bradshaw, Hakeem Nicks, Victor Cruz and even Martellus Bennett, unless you have a stud tight end. If you're feeling brave, the Giants defense could turn out to be a nice sleeper play.
Keys to Bucs Win
Offensively, the Bucs have to be able to run the ball and control the clock. A huge key for them will be staying out of 3rd-and-long situations, a death sentence for quarterbacks against the Giants' excellent pass rush.
Defensively, they need to pressure Manning and keep him off-balance. As good as he is, Manning isn't immune to turning the ball over. If the Bucs can win the turnover battle, they'll be that much more likely to win the game.
Keys to Giants Win
For one, players like Victor Cruz need to catch the ball. That certainly didn't help their cause in the loss to the Dallas Cowboys. For another, the offensive line needs to protect Manning. The Giants aren't going to have a very formidable offense again if Manning doesn't have enough time to throw.
Defensively, the team needs to stay in Freeman's face from the snap to the final whistle. The Bucs will try to establish the run early and look to build off that with play action, so the play of the front seven for the Giants will be key. And they can't allow Jackson to beat them deep—they must make the Bucs grind for every point they get.
This will be a good game, though it probably won't be the most exciting Week 2 affair. The defenses will steal the show here, though Manning will do what he does best and lead the Giants to a late win. New York will steal it in the end, 20-17.
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