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Buccaneers-Giants: Hide The Women and Children, Folks

JC De La TorreAnalyst IIISeptember 24, 2009

As the eternal optimist among the Featured Columnists of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, it's been said that I own a pair of Pewter-Colored glasses.

Sure enough, when you look at my first two previews and ultimate prediction, I've given the Buccaneers the benefit of the doubt. I truly believed the Bucs could beat the Cowboys and the Bills.

This time though, the glasses are off and folks, what my non-cloudy eyes perceive isn't pretty.

From the amount of Giants fans likely to invade Raymond James Stadium to an offense that can attack the Buccaneers at both of their weakest points (deep ball and power-run game), to a defense that feeds on statuesque quarterbacks—this has the makings of a mauling.

So naturally, the Bucs will win.

Just kidding, not even I, the President of the Believe in the Dream of Raheem fan club can go there.

No, for Buccaneer fans, this one will have the appeal of a nasty car accident. You don't want to look, you feel for those involved, but you just can't seem to look away.

Even if the Giants come in flat after ruining Dallas' unveiling of Jerryopolis on Monday night, few of the matchups—in fact only one—favor the Bucs.

With that said, in the immortal words of Chris Berman, "That's why they play the games." Upsets happen all the time in the NFL, some you just can't imagine or explain. A team comes in heavily favored but coughs up the ball three or four times. The underdog hangs around long enough to believe there's a chance and then something happens to burn the favorite.

The Buccaneers better hope this is one of those weeks.

When Last We Met: The Giants began their amazing run to their 2007 Super Bowl Championship by beating the Bucs in Tampa in the Wild Card Round of the playoffs, 24-14

Series: The Giants have won six of the last nine meetings and lead the overall series 11-6.

New York Giants Passing Attack vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers Pass Defense

One of the interesting things about the New York Giants this season is they've won with Eli Manning's arm, not their vaunted rushing attack. The Giants are fifth in the NFL passing the ball. That doesn't look good for the Bucs 27th ranked pass defense.

The Bucs got a little better against the pass against the Bills, playing more of their familiar Tampa Two than they did in Week One. However, when Buffalo began to run the ball effectively, the Bucs had to creep up their safeties and the Bills began to attack that struggling secondary.

Tampa Bay's lack of a pass rush continues to hinder their ability to defend the pass. The Giants come in with one of the better offensive lines in the NFL.

Manning was sensational in the Giants' 33-31 thriller against Dallas, throwing for 330 yards and two touchdowns.

Advantage: New York

New York Giants Rushing Attack vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers Run Defense

It's amazing the Giants are 2-0 with Brandon Jacobs struggling to run the football.

The battering ram Jacobs is averaging only 3.3 yards a carry and has not reached the end zone in 2009. The Giants as a whole are a very pedestrian 22nd in the NFL pounding the rock with no rushing touchdowns.

The G-men's running game will get a chance to get well this week, facing Tampa Bay's 27th ranked run defense.

The Bucs missed 24 tackles and allowed unheralded running back Fred Jackson to pound out 163 yards on the ground. They are giving up an average of 5.7 yards a carry.

While the Giants may miss Derrick Ward, it's hard to imagine Brandon Jacobs and Ahmad Bradshaw not being effective against Tampa Bay's defense.

Advantage: New York

Tampa Bay Buccaneers Passing Attack vs. New York Giants Pass Defense

Yet another surprising statistic regarding the New York Giants is their lack of sacks through the first two games. They have three—the same amount as the pass rushed starved Bucs.

Meanwhile, despite losing starting center Jeff Faine to a triceps injury in the season opener, the Bucs have only allowed Byron Leftwich to be sacked twice this season.

While sacks haven't been abundant, hits on Leftwich certainly have. Part of that is due to his style of holding on to the football until the last available second. Sometimes that gets him in trouble—as it did against the Bills last week when he held the ball too long, overthrew running back Cadillac Williams in the flat, and it was intercepted for a touchdown the other way.

The Bills also blitzed the statuesque Leftwich unmercifully. While the Giants like to apply pressure with their front four, it wouldn't surprise me to see defensive coordinator Bill Sheridan add a few wrinkles for the fifth-ranked pass defense in the NFL.

The Bucs are ranked sixth in the NFL in the passing game, despite missing the services of their top wideout Antonio Bryant (knee).

If the line can give Leftwich time and he avoids the turnover, the Bucs may be able to sustain some drives.

Advantage: New York

Tampa Bay Buccaneers Rushing Attack vs. New York Giants Run Defense

Typically stout against the run, the Giants have been just as bad as the Buccaneers in defending the ground game this season. They're tied with Tampa Bay for 27th against the run.

That bodes well for the Buccaneers 14th-ranked running attack, which had to be shelved last week when the Buccaneers quickly fell behind 17 points.

This can be an advantage for the Buccaneers if the offense can avoid turnovers and the defense can keep them within a touchdown.

Cadillac Williams and former Giant Derrick Ward are really the strengths of the Buccaneer running game. Earnest Graham has yet to really have an opportunity but has shown in the past he can be capable.

Jeff Faine's absence is probably felt the most here as his replacement, Sean Mahan, isn't as strong at the point of attack.

Advantage: Tampa Bay

New York Giants Special Teams vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers Special Teams

Lawrence Tynes is a solid kicker while the ageless Jeff Feagles continues to punt well for the Giants. Sinorice Moss has shown some flash ability as a kick returner.

Tampa Bay's Mike Nugent has yet to make a field goal in 2009 but Dirk Johnson has been a pleasant surprise, averaging 42.1 yards a punt and pinning five inside the 20.

Clifton Smith is averaging 26.5 yards a return but has yet to make a major impact in the return game this season.

Both coverage units are solid.

Advantage: Push

New York Giants coaching vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers coaching

Giants coach Tom Coughlin is in his 14th season as a head coach. Coughlin is 210-117 (89-49 as coach in New York), has six division championships, and a Super Bowl victory on his resume.

Raheem Morris is coaching his third game as an NFL head coach. He is 0-2.

Advantage: New York

Intangibles

The heat and humidity in Tampa Bay may become a factor if the game is close in the fourth quarter. The temperature is expected to be in the high 80s during game time.

The Giants are also coming off an emotional Monday night battle with rival Dallas and are in the midst of a three game road trip—a rarity in the NFL.

The Bucs continue to struggle with inexperience and confusion on defense. Several players have spoken out this week about playing soft.

Advantage: Push

Prediction: For the past few weeks this is where I wax poetically about how the Bucs are going to do the things necessary to win this game. Are there avenues that could lead to victory for the Bucs in this game? Definitely. If they can control the Giants early and get a lead, be able to sustain their running game then there's a definite chance. Turnovers would be helpful, too.

However, seeing this team struggle to figure itself out and considering the Giants may be the best team in the NFC, it's hard to imagine the Bucs being able to stay in this one for long.

It may be a little closer than most pundits expect, but in the end the Giants will walk away with a convincing victory.

Score: NY Giants 23, Tampa Bay 10

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