NEW YORK GIANTS (0-3) AT TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS (1-1)
SERIES HISTORY: 20th regular-season meeting. Giants lead series, 13-6. The Giants have won the last five meetings, including a postseason game in 2007. The Giants have outscored the Bucs 334-304 in regular-season play. The Giants' last loss at Tampa Bay came in 2003, a 19-13 Bucs victory.
KEYS TO THE GAME: Never mind about the Giants' record. A second look at the respective trends of these teams and New York may be a rude guest.
The Bucs are prepared to face a Giants team that found some offensive tempo and are going with a hurry-up offense. Quarterback Eli Manning and the Giants showed some life, especially in the passing game, on Sunday. They did it by getting the football out of Manning's hands in a hurry, a necessity considering poor play on the front line. The Bucs have only one sack this season anyway and struggle to get pressure on the quarterback, so this is weakness against weakness.
. Tampa Bay hopes to get a lift from the return of DT Chris Baker and DE Jacquies Smith. It remains to be seen what they get from DE Noah Spence, who dislocated his shoulder again at Minnesota and will play with a harness.The Bucs unleashed 15 blitzes last week against the Vikings were burned big time.
Offensively, the Bucs must control the ball and get their rushing attack going. The Giants have a tremendous pass rush. The only way to slow it down is to run the football. Tampa Bay running backs had only nine touches at Minnesota. Quarterback Jameis Winston threw three interceptions last week which continues to taint his career arc. The Bucs have won five in a row at home and a big reason is that he seems to protect the football better at home. Look for the Bucs to give Winston lots of mass protection and utilize the tight ends and running backs more in this game. The play-action game should create opportunities for Jackson and Evans.
MATCHUPS TO WATCH:
--Giants CB Eli Apple or CB Brent Grime vs. Bucs WR Mike Evans. Apple, the Giants' second-year cornerback, has struggled now through three games, allowing 17 of 23 pass targets to be completed for 196 yards and three touchdowns for a team worst 138.8 NFL rating. Last week, Apple was nailed for two blatant pass interference calls after being beaten down the field deep. Evans is averaging 80 receiving yards per game, with 10 of his 14 receptions having gone for first downs. It's unclear if Apple, who had two sprained ankles in the summer, is still affected by his injuries, but if he's going to be on the field, he's going to need to pick up his play.
--Giants WR Odell Beckham vs. Bucs CB Brent Grimes. The Bucs missed Grimes against the Vikings. Beckham is coming off a two-touchdown performance against the Eagles.
FRIDAY INJURY REPORT
NEW YORK GIANTS
--Questionable: LB Jonathan Casillas (ankle, wrist), RB Orleans Darkwa (back), C Brett Jones (hip), DE Olivier Vernon (ankle)
TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS
--Out: LB Kwon Alexander (hamstring)
--Doubtful: LB Lavonte David (ankle), S T.J. Ward (hip)
PLAYER SPOTLIGHT: FS Darian Thompson. Thompson, who spent most of last season on injured reserve with a foot ailment, has been less than impressive since getting his starting job back from Andrew Adams. Thus far, Thompson has recorded seven total missed tackles, four in run defense and three in pass defense, according to Pro Football Focus, an advanced analytics site. Thompson, who was especially bad last week against the Eagles, will need to turn things around starting this week if he's to hold on to his job.
FAST FACTS: Giants QB Eli Manning passed for 366 yards, 3 TDs for 100.1 rating last week. He ranks 8th in NFL history for yards passing (49,039), 7th in TD passes (324). WR Odell Beckham Jr caught 9 passes for 79 yards and two TDs in week 3, infamously drawing a penalty after one score when he mimicked a dog urinating, raised leg and all. WR Brandon Marshall ranks 3rd among active players with 951 career receptions and 2nd with 12,154 yards receiving. DE Olivier Vernon goes for third straight road game with a sack. S Landon Colling had 9 tackles and FF last week. Since 2015, he leads NFL safeties in tackles (254) and is tied for 2nd with 4 sacks.... Bucs QB Jameis Winston threw 11 TDs and 3 INTs in last seven home games. RB Jacquizz Rodgers rushed for a TD in three of last four games. WR Mike Evans caught 8 passes for 150 yards in last meeting. In past 6 home games he collected 520 yards receiver, 6 TDs. TE Cameron Brate caught 3 touchdowns in last four games and leads NFL tight ends with 9 TD catches since 2016. DT Gerald McCoy has 33.5 sacks since 2013, most among NFL DTs. CB Brent Grimes has 3 INTs and 8 PD in past 5 at home. He leads NFL with 67 PD since 2013. LB Kwon Alexander has 42 tackles (10.5 per game) & INT in past 4 games.
PREDICTION: The Giants may be winless but they improved last week as Eli Manning controlled the pace and offset bad blocking with quick passes. The Bucs are difficult to figure because QB Jameis Winston is consistently inconstant protecting the ball. The Bucs play better at home, but this may not be a good matchup for them.
OUR PICK: Giants, 31-28..