Could our Bucs be turning some heads?
The win last week was pure old school football, grind it out, nice defense and a good special teams turnover when Aqib Talib blocked a punt for the first time in his career. Did anyone mention that this is a contract year for Talib?
That one is in the books and what awaits the Bucs on Sunday at MetLife Stadium up there in the Meadowlands is the daunting challenge that is the Super Bowl champion New York Giants.
The Giants are in a pretty foul mood after dropping their opener to Dallas, they've had 10 days to stew on it and study our Buccaneers. With that in mind, let's get to it like we did last week and break down the units for both teams in an attempt to spot the advantages.
Quarterback: Josh Freeman vs. Eli Manning.
Josh Freeman was a good game manager last week. He didn't turn the ball over, no fumbles, no interceptions and had a kick-butt opening drive and an excellent first half. The second half was a complete stall and it was up to the defense to keep momentum from jumping to the Carolina sideline. Freeman will have to bring out his "A" game on Sunday.
Who wins on Sunday?
What need we say about Eli Manning? The guy's a pro's pro. Elite? When you give him time to pass he'll pick you apart. Thus it's up to the defense to pressure him the way Dallas was able to last week. If Eli gets comfortable in the pocket, turn off the television.
Advantage: Giants, Substantial advantage.
Running game: Doug Martin, LeGarrette Blount, D.J. Ware, Michael Smith, Erik Lorig vs. Ahmad Bradshaw, David Wilson, Da'Rei Scott, Henry Hynowski
It's time for LeGarrette Blount to step up and show that he's going to be a productive part of this offense in 2012. We don't need to have Doug Martin get beat on 28 times by this defense. That would not be good. Martin was the man last week and needs an even better outing Sunday.
New York's rushing game was unimpressive at best against Dallas. If the Bucs were able to stop Newton and DeAngelo Williams, they should be able to handle Bradshaw. And please, please Tom Coughlin, put in the fumble-bug David Wilson. The Bucs need some turnovers!
Advantage: Buccaneers, Solid advantage.
Receivers: Vincent Jackson, Mike Williams, Arrelious Benn, Preston Parker, Dallas Clark vs. Victor Cruz, Hakeem Nicks, Jerrel Jernigan, Domenik Hixon, Martellus Bennett.
Will this be a close game?
It will be nice to have Arrelious Benn back and ready to go. He could help this offense a lot. Need to have Dallas Clark ready for some quick drop passes as Freeman isn't going to have a lot of time to throw.
Nicks is banged up, may not play and even if he does, is not 100 percent. The Bucs have the ability to control the wide receivers but the main weapon for Manning will probably be Martellus Bennett, brother of Bucs defensive end Michael Bennett. The Bucs have to account for Bennett.
Advantage: Buccaneers, slight advantage.
Offensive line: Donald Penn (LT), Carl Nicks (LG), Jeremy Zuttah (C), Ted Larsen (RG), Demar Dotson (RT) vs. Will Beatty (LT), Kevin Boothe (LG), David Baas (C), Chris Snee (RG), David Diehl (RT).
We're making the call early. Jeremy Trueblood is a game-time decision for the Bucs and we're of the belief that Demar Dotson is going to take his place. The most pressure will be on the Bucs with the Giants All-Pro laden front four. It's going to be a challenging afternoon.
The Giants o-line is good, not great. Manning got roughed up a bit by the Cowboys. The Bucs will need to do the same.
Will the Giants get to Josh Freeman?
Defensive line: Adrian Clayborn, Gerald McCoy, Roy Miller, Michael Bennett vs. Jason Pierre-Paul, Linval Joseph, Rocky Bernard, Justin Tuck/Osi Umenyiora.
The Buc d-line was a pleasant surprise in the opener and they'll need an even better effort against Manning. Can't give Manning time. Did we mention that?
The Giants may have the best defensive line in the NFL. This is not a group you want in front of you without a stout offensive line to at least challenge them. Josh Freeman is NOT going to be able to hold the football very long in this game.
Advantage: Giants, BIG advantage.
Linebackers: Lavonte David, Mason Foster, Quincy Black vs. Mathias Kiwanuka, Chase Blackburn, Michael Boley/Jacquain Williams.
Buccaneer linebackers had a really nice day against Carolina. If they can have a repeat performance, it will help immensely. The linebackers have to account for Giants tight end Martellus Bennett.
Can the Bucs pressure Eli Manning?
Giants linebackers get the nod experience-wise. They combine with their front four to make a formidable unit.
Advantage: Giants, slight advantage.
Secondary: Aqib Talib, Eric Wright, Ronde Barber, Mark Barron vs. Corey Webster, Michael Coe, Kenny Phillips, Antrel Rolle.
Love the Buccaneer secondary. Nice unit and Steve Smith is better than any receiver the Giants have, Victor Cruz included. Time for Barron to law down the law. By the way, former coach Mike Martz did the color commentary on the television broadcast last week and spent the entire first half referring to Barron as "Mike Barron." Nice try Martz, ask Steve Smith what the kid's name is!
For the Giants, Prince Amukamura is probably still on the sideline. This unit is the main weakness of an other wise strong Giants defense. The only problem is finding enough time for Freeman to exploit that.
Advantage: Buccaneers, big advantage.
Michael Koenin vs. Steve Weatherford (Punters), Connor Barth vs. Lawrence Tyne (Place kickers), Sammie Stroughter, Michael Smith vs. Jerrel Jernigan (punt, kickoff returns).
The Bucs have a very solid special teams unit. So do the Giants. Gotta like Koenin and Barth against any pair in the NFL.
Advantage: Buccaneers, slight advantage.
There you have it folks. Maybe, just maybe the Bucs have a shot in this one. Don't count them out. It's certain that the Giants fans marked a big "W" next to the Buccaneers before the season started and before the Giants lost their opener to the Cowboys.
Prediction: Buccaneers 24, Giants 21.