The Tampa Bay Buccaneers got off to precisely the start they were hoping for in Greg Schiano's debut. The New York Giants started their championship-defending campaign with a disappointing loss to a divisional rival.
On Sunday, the two teams will meet in a battle of contrasts. The young team with a new coach taking on the veteran, Super Bowl-winning side. One team wants to pound the rock and dominate time of possession, while the other is capable of scoring points in droves through the air.
For my money, I think the Giants will win. But what are the factors that led me to this determination? Why do the Giants represent an incredibly difficult matchup for the Bucs?
Read on, my friends.
Giants' Pass Rush vs. Josh Freeman
With Jason Pierre-Paul, Justin Tuck, Osi Umenyiora and Mathias Kiwanuka, the Giants can really get after the quarterback. Josh Freeman can expect to be pressured and sacked far more than he was last week against the Carolina Panthers.
If the Giants can slow down the Bucs' running game on the early downs and force long third-down conversions, expect New York to pin back its ears and get after Freeman all day long.
In turn, don't be shocked if the Giants force a few turnovers and stymie this Tampa Bay offense.
Eli Manning Isn't Cam Newton
Yes, Newton threw for 303 yards against the Bucs last weekend. He also threw two costly interceptions and struggled against the Tampa Bay defense in the first half.
Manning isn't immune to turnovers, of course. But he and the Giants' receiving corps present a far stiffer test for the Bucs' secondary. Ignore the Giants' Week 1 offensive struggles—this is still one of the most dangerous passing attacks in the league.
The Bucs' secondary may have looked solid against the Panthers, but it is in for a whole new challenge this week.
The Giants Were Terrible Last Week (And Rested This Week)
As Tom Coughlin called it, the Giants took "a bite out of humble pie" last Thursday night. From a sheer motivational standpoint alone, you have to figure they'll be buzzing around the field looking for a win in Week 2.
And it can't hurt giving Coughlin and his staff three extra days to prepare for the Bucs this week, or that extra time for the Giants to rest.
The Bucs will certainly feel good about earning a win in Schiano's debut. They should. But against what should be an angry Giants team, they had better stop feeling good about themselves and get ready for a dog fight.
If you think the Giants are going to start 0-2 (and lose two straight games at home) without a fight, think again.
Hit me up on Twitter—my tweets are still in the Heisman Race.