After an impressive and emotional win last Sunday in Atlanta, the Buccaneers return home with a chance to win back-to-back games and finish the first half of the 2015 season with a 500 record. But a victory against New York won’t come easy.
While the Giants sit at 4-4 with a sputtering defense, their offense has been surging as of late. Following a lackluster performance in Week 6 against the Eagles, New York rushed for over 130 yards in a Week 7 win against Dallas and threw for 350 last Sunday in New Orleans, albeit in a losing effort. Still, Tampa Bay’s defense, the backend in particular, will have their hands full this weekend.
Ranked as the 14th best offense in the NFL, quarterback Eli Manning has already eclipsed the 2,000 yard mark with the help of a plethora of young talent at wide receiver, headlined by Odell Beckham Jr. The second-year pro out of LSU has 50 receptions for 654 yards and seven touchdowns and is coming off a season-best performance in last week’s 52-49 shootout.
For Tampa Bay’s defense, it’s still about stopping the run first and then getting takeaways. The unit escaped Matt Ryan’s 395-yard performance (496 yards total) last week by playing “bend but don’t break” defense. The unit came up with a couple huge red zone stands while forcing four turnovers on the afternoon, three of which in the first half and two inside their own 20-yard line. It’s never ideal to give up nearly 500 yards or allow a quarterback to have an 82 percent completion rate, but a few red zone stands, takeaways and lucky bounces can often recover for an otherwise subpar effort.
Of course this week will feature some new faces on defense, particularly along the front four, where Tampa Bay will rely on young players taking increased snaps. With injuries to Clinton McDonald (pectoral) and Jacquies Smith (ankle), the Bucs will look to Howard Jones to fill the void at defensive end while Akeem Spence and Henry Melton rotate at nose tackle.
Offensively, stats would suggest Tampa Bay has an opportunity to score points. Aside from the steady emergence of Jameis Winston, the rejuvenated backfield of Doug Martin and Charles Sims and the likely returns of Demar Dotson and Austin Seferian-Jenkins, the Giants enter the game with the 32nd ranked defense. New York is giving up an average of 427 yards per outing, 315 of which through the air and the struggles in the secondary don’t appear to be ending soon.
Former first-round pick CB Prince Amukamara (pectoral) will miss his fourth game in a row, meaning the Bucs should face the same cornerback-safety group the Saints did, and that bodes well for their young and inexperienced receiving corps. Not to mention the tight end duo of Seferian-Jenkins, who’s questionable, and Cameron Brate, who scored his first touchdown in last Sunday’s win. If Saints tight end Ben Watson’s success last week against the Giants is any indication – 10 receptions for 114 yards – then both tight ends could be poised for a big day.
This game, for all intents and purposes, is set up to be a shootout.
Both teams come in with a steadily improving offense and a defense still trying to gain its footing. For Tampa Bay, a win Sunday would cross a few major hurdles and provide at least some hope for a playoff push in the second half of the year.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers (3-4) vs. New York Giants (4-4)
Sunday, November 8, 2015, 4:05 p.m. ET
Raymond James Stadium (65,908)
Network Television: FOX (WTVT Local)
Play-By-Play: Kenny Albert Analyst: Daryl Johnson Sideline: Laura Okmin
Bucs Radio: US 103.5, Flagship Station (103.5 FM, 620 AM & 95.3 FM)
Play-By-Play: Gene Deckerhoff Analyst: Dave Moore Sideline: T.J. Rives
Last Game: Tampa Bay Won at Atlanta, 23-20 (OT); New York Giants Lost at New Orleans, 52-49
Pewter Report’s Predictions
Scott Reynolds: Giants 34-26
Mark Cook: Bucs 31-20
Eric Horchy: Bucs 24-20
Zach Shapiro: Bucs 34-30
Zach is entering his 3rd year covering the Tampa Bay Buccaneers as a writer for PewterReport.com. Since 2014, he's handled a large part of the beat reporting responsibilities at PR, attending all media gatherings and publishing and promoting content daily. Zach is a native of Sarasota, FL, and a graduate of the University of Tampa. He has also covered high school football for the Tampa Tribune and the NFL for Pro Player Insiders.
Contact him at: firstname.lastname@example.org
There are a few people who believe that the Bucs have a chance against the Giants. I’m proud to have Mike Ditka, Merrill Hoge, Stephen White, Chris Collinsworth, Kurt Warner, and Steve Mariucci, among others, join me in picking the Bucs to win. Bucs 28, Giants 21.
Blow by the Giants. With no DE’s and Safety’s Eli and Odell will have a field day.
I want to pick the Bucs I really do but I think beating Atlanta was more to Atlanta beating themselves then us playing well, Giants 31-23
Just got list of inactives and ASJ is not playing today. Looks like it’s Winston and the rookies again today. Can’t win without your players. Oh well, it’s a Bucs Life!
31-30 BUCS. Neither defense is very good. It may come down to whose has the ball last. I’ll give the BUCS the home field win.
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