When the New York Giants faced off with NFC East division rival Dallas Cowboys last week, we were facing an opponent we all know very well. This week, with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on deck, not so much. So to get a look at what we can expect out of our opponent, we turn to our good friend Wolf Heard over at Buccaneers101.com.
While the Giants were busy losing to the Cowboys in Week 1, the Bucs were busy upsetting Cam Newtown and the Carolina Panthers. Behind a running game that featured rookie Doug Martin toting the rock 28 times for 95 yards, Josh Freeman managed the game well, going 16 of 24 for 138 yards, a touchdown and no interceptions, hitting six different receivers along the way. While the offense did its job, the Bucs won because of their defense, picking Newton off twice and holding his offense to only 10 points).
After the Buccaneers jumped out to a 13-0 lead over the Panthers last week, they played pretty conservative football. Freeman only threw for 138 yards and didn't really take any shots down the field. That should change against New York's injury-plagued secondary. Look for offensive coordinator Mike Sullivan to use a more vertical passing attack this week with Vincent Jackson getting a couple of bombs thrown his way.
The Giants also struggled to get pressure on Romo and contain the Cowboys running game when it mattered. How does Tampa's OL look?
As for the offensive line, they have tough task in front of them. Last week, the O-line played great against the Panthers. But let's fact it, no one has a defensive line as good as the Giants. Pro Bowl guard Carl Nicks and right tackle Jeremy Trueblood are nursing injuries and that will make things tougher against the Giants pass rushers, but they have to keep Freeman upright if they want a chance for the road win.
Tampa traded up in front of the Giants to draft Doug Martin this year. The Giants either settled for David Wilson or wanted Wilson all along (depending on who you ask). Tampa fed Martin the ball 28 times in Week 1, so they certainly view him as a workhorse back. Does he look the part so far?
It was only a few series in the preseason and one full game, but Martin certainly seems like a stud in the making. He is a shifty, agile runner in the mold of Baltimore's Ray Rice. Martin is also a good receiver out of the backfield so he can play all three downs. We've been impressed with Martin thus far and so have the Bucs, which is why he will continue to be the focal point of the offense. That won't change on Sunday; look for the kid to get between 20-25 touches in order to slow down New York's pass rush.
Tampa Bay beats Big Blue if…
…They do what we talked about earlier – protect Josh Freeman and establish a strong running game. If the Giants get constant pressure on Freeman then we could see some turnovers, and that won't bode well for the Bucs. Freeman has have time to look down field and needs Martin, LeGarrette Blount, and D.J. Ware to keep the chains moving when they get the rock. If they do that, then the Bucs wear out New York's front four and have a good shot at beating the defending Super Bowl Champs.
We can't disagree that the Giants defense will be on the field a lot if they can't slow down Tampa's running game and let Josh Freeman stand in a clean pocket. We'd like to think Eli Manning and the offense could outscore Freeman and co. any day of the week…but after last week we're not too quick to rest on suppositions like that.
We'd like to give much thanks to Wolf and the team over at Buccaneers101.com for giving us an inside peak. Feel free to hop on over there for more coverage of this week's game.
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