The New York Giants didn't have an ideal start to their 2012 season, as they lost a frustrating opening matchup with the division rival Dallas Cowboys 24-17 on kickoff night. New York came out of week one as the only team in the NFC East without a win but as they did last season, avoided panic this week and immediately shifted their focus to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, who are coming off of a 16-10 win over the Carolina Panthers.
New York doesn't want to have to dig themselves out of an 0-2 hole, and with the way their schedule shakes out in the second half of the season, this is about as important a week two game they have played in recent memory.
Go to the quick passing and screen game early in the game
Tampa Bay has a young, fast group that is looking to be aggressive defensively this season. The Giants need to get clicking early this game after looking sluggish against Dallas, and the best way to do it is to get the ball out on some quick hitting routes early, while also using Tampa Bay's aggressive approach against them. A well placed slant against a five or six man rush is one Victor Cruz move in the open field from a touchdown.
Stack the box and don't let rookie Doug Martin get going in the first half
Yes, the Giants pass coverage really struggled last week against Dallas. That being said, Tampa isn't a team that can light up the scoreboard through the air, and their success is going to depend on what type of offensive balance they can create and how much Doug Martin can take advantage of an aggressive Giants front seven on first and second down. If the Giants can keep the Tampa Bay running game contained in this game, it's going to be very hard for the Buccaneers to get to 20 points in this football game. The Giants have got to be physical, alert against the ground attack, and frustrate the Bucs at home in the first half to put themselves in position to take control of this game.
Emphasize taking care of the football
The Giants have all the advantages going into this game. They're the veteran team, they have built more chemistry on both sides of the ball, they have the advantage at quarterback and in the passing game, and they know how to win. Tampa Bay will only find themselves in position to win a game in the defending Super Bowl champs' stadium if New York turns the football over and gives this team easy points and in turn, momentum and confidence. These are the types of games where the Giants need to focus first on not shooting themselves in the foot, because that will take a game where they have all the man on man advantages and turn it into a late game dogfight where anything can happen. Take care of the football, be patient, execute, and let your talent take over the football game.
Vincent Jackson is the only real big play threat the Bucs have in the passing game, and Corey Webster absolutely can not afford to have the type of game he did last week against Dallas, the worst I've seen from him in several years. Webster has to get back to being one of the NFL's most reliable man on man covermen and force the Buccaneers to try and methodically move the chains on this Giants defense rather than hitting big plays over the top against a Giants secondary that gave up plenty of big plays last week against Dallas. Jackson is the threat, and Webster will have to step up and contain that threat this week.
BIG GAME ALERT
WR Hakeem Nicks
The Buccaneers don't have a cornerback physical and agile enough to compete with Nicks one on one on the outside. Not many teams do, actually. The Bucs are going to have to determine who they want to double, and with the big play threat Cruz presents, I expect Nicks to get some looks early in this game and really get going against this Tampa secondary. Look for 88 to have a big day Sunday.
The Giants got a piece of "humble pie" as Tom Coughlin called it after they dropped the opener to Dallas. They seem a little disappointed in themselves, a little annoyed, and just angry enough to create an intense focus going into about as much of a must-win situation as you can have in week two of an NFL season. I think you'll see a sharp team Sunday, and without the Giants beating themselves, I can't see Tampa Bay winning this game in MetLife stadium.
GIANTS 28, BUCCANEERS 14
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