The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are 3-4 following a dramatic 23-20 overtime win at Atlanta when they blew a 17-poiunt lead, but improved to 2-1 in the NFC South. What are the six things PewterReport.com’s Scott Reynolds is looking for in Tampa Bay’s upcoming game against the 4-4 New York Giants? Find out right here in SR’s Pick 6.

Who: Tampa Bay Buccaneers vs. New York Giants
Where: Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Fla.
When: 4:05 p.m. ET – FOX
Last meeting: 41-34 loss at New York in 2013
Series notes: Giants have a 12-6 advantage over Buccaneers all-time

1. KEEP GIANTS RBs OFF BROADWAY
 New York’s running back corps is a cast of “B” actors headlined by big backs Rashad Jennings, who leads the team with 316 yards and one touchdown on 81 carries (3.9 avg.) and Andre Williams, in addition to pass-catcher Shane Vereen and Orleans Darkwa. Through the first half of the season the Giants have only rushed for 756 yards and three touchdowns while averaging 3.9 yards per carry. That ranks 27th in the NFL and is good news for Tampa Bay’s defense, which ranks 16th in stopping the run.

The Bucs will have a hard enough time limiting Eli Manning, Odell Beckham and the Giants’ passing attack, the last thing Tampa Bay needs is to have New York’s offense find some balance with some big runs from its running backs. The Bucs can’t turn Jennings, Vereen, Williams or Darkwa into a star on Sunday. It’s one thing to have to stop Manning when he’s forced to throw it and you know the pass is coming because the running game has been taken away. It’s another thing to not know if Manning will be throwing it or handing it off. The Bucs must keep the Giants one dimensional to have a chance at beating the current leader in the NFC East.
Advantage: Buccaneers

2. SEE RED IN THE RED ZONE
Tampa Bay’s defense has allowed 17 passing touchdowns this season with all but one of them coming inside the red zone. New York Giants v New Orleans SaintsOpposing quarterbacks have feasted on the Bucs’ bogus coverage – man and zone – near the goal line 16 times this season, as passing has become the preferred method of scoring on Tampa Bay. The Bucs defense has only surrendered five rushing touchdowns thus far.

Beckham’s leaping ability make him a red zone target, and don’t forget about Rueben Randle, who is 6-foot-2 and has a big catch radius. The Giants will be missing 6-foot-6 tight end Larry Donnell, who has two touchdowns on the year, due to a neck injury, but the Bucs can’t sleep on backup tight ends Will Tye and Jerome Cunningham. The Bucs showed some improvement last week at Atlanta in the red zone, holding the Falcons to two field goals and recording some takeaways, but need to make some bigger strides this week against the Giants in order to win.
Advantage: Giants

3. DON’T GET ODELLED
Pencil in Beckham for at least 100 yards and a touchdown against Tampa Bay’s porous secondary, but if the Bucs are going to beat the Giants they can’t allow Beckham to go off like he did in New Orleans last week for a season-high eight catches for 130 yards and three touchdowns in a 52-49 loss to the Saints. Beckham, who has 50 catches for 654 yards and seven touchdowns this season, has the ability to take over games for the Giants and dominate the highlights on ESPN and NFL Network. He’s capable of having a 200-yard, multiple-touchdown day against Tampa Bay’s secondary. The Bucs can’t let him rule the day in order to have a chance to win.

The Bucs will likely play a mix of Cover 2 and man coverage on Beckham to slow him down. Cover 2 allows there to be a safety over the top to limit Beckham’s big plays with a cornerback playing underneath. Because he’s faster than Johnthan Banks, Mike Jenkins will likely be called on to cover Beckham in man coverage, which is a huge mismatch that favors New York. The Bucs defense has just four interceptions this year and none from the cornerback position. That needs to change, especially when Manning will be forcing the ball to Beckham at least eight times on Sunday.
Advantage: Giants

4. EVANS NEEDS TO BECOME A GIANTAtlanta Falcons v Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Playing in front of Beckham and against a terrible Giants secondary, Bucs wide receiver Mike Evans needs to rise to the occasion and outplay the guy on the cover of this year’s Madden. At the end of the game, Evans needs to have a dominant performance on the stats sheet in order to give the Bucs their best chance at winning. New Orleans quarterback Drew Brees lit up the Giants defensive backs for a record seven touchdowns and 505 yards in last week’s 52-49 win, and that should have Evans, who needs a bounce-back week after catching just three passes in Atlanta, licking his chops

Evans had a season-high eight catches for 164 yards (20.5 avg.) and one touchdown against Washington two weeks ago, and that’s the type of performance the 6-foot-5 receiver needs to have against New York. With Vincent Jackson out and tight end Austin Seferian-Jenkins still on the mend, Evans will be Jameis Winston’s favorite target on Sunday and he needs to deliver. Evans will likely be facing Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, who has three interceptions, including a pick-six this year, and needs to win that matchup for Tampa Bay.
Advantage: Buccaneers

5. KEEP WINSTON CLEAN
Tampa Bay’s offensive line has been the unsung hero of the first half of the season, and not just paving the way for Doug Martin and Charles Sims to run for over 800 yards through seven games. The offensive line has been very good in pass protection, especially over the last four games in which Winston has only been sacked seven times and no more than twice per game. In the first two games, Winston was sacked seven times, but the protection has improved.

The Giants only have 13 sacks this season and are desperate for more, which is why they signed injured defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul, who will be making his 2015 debut for New York after a serious fireworks accident on July 4 blew off some of his fingers. Winston still needs to improve his footwork when he throws and the more time he has to set his feet the more accurate he is as a passer. If Winston’s uniform can stay clean and the Bucs offensive line keep JPP and the other Giants at bay the rookie quarterback could have his best day as a pro throwing against a porous New York secondary.
Advantage: Buccaneers

6. THIRD DOWN’S A CHARM
The Buccaneers offense will need to continue to win on third down to have the best chance of getting its second win a row for theNew York Giants v New Orleans Saints first time since 2013. Tampa Bay has improved to 38 percent on third downs this year, showing recent progress over the past month (50 percent in the last four games). Establishing the running game with Doug Martin and Charles Sims on first and second downs have led manageable third-and-short situations for Tampa Bay’s offense and also play-action passing opportunities for Winston.

Tampa Bay’s defense was quite good on third down against Houston (8-of-18), Carolina (3-of-11) and Jacksonville (2-of-8), but has been too lax in recent weeks against Washington (5-of-11) and Atlanta (6-of-12). If Tampa Bay’s offense can covert half of its third down with a balanced offense, and the defense can hold New York to a third of its third down conversions that should be a recipe for success for the Buccaneers. In order to get the Giants into third-and-long situations, the Bucs defense needs to stop the ground game and also sack Manning. While Tampa Bay’s defense has 17 sacks on the year, it only has two in the last two games and that needs to change.
Advantage: Giants

SR’s Prediction: Giants 34, Bucs 26

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About the Author: Mark Cook

Mark Cook currently is the director of editorial content and Bucs beat writer and has written for PewterReport.com since 2011. Cook has followed the Buccaneers since 1977 when he first began watching football with his Dad and is fond of the 1979 Bucs team that came within 10 points of going to a Super Bowl. His favorite Bucs game is still the 1979 divisional playoff win 24-17 over the Eagles. In his spare time Cook enjoys playing guitar, fishing, the beach and family time.Cook is a native of Pinecrest in Eastern Hillsborough County and has written for numerous publications including the Tampa Tribune, In the Field and Ya'll Magazine. Cook can be reached at mark@pewterreport.com
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1sparkybuc
1sparkybuc
6 years ago

My wife is a Giant fan. This game is always great fun for one of us and it’s my turn. Go Bucs.

BaldBuc
BaldBuc
6 years ago

If we can sustain long drives and keep Beckham off the field, we have a good chance. I have faith we will. Bucs win 36-24. We’ll be up 33 to 3 at the end of the first half though.

cgmaster27
cgmaster27
Reply to  BaldBuc
6 years ago

Thanks baldbuc that was good for a laugh.

BaldBuc
BaldBuc
Reply to  cgmaster27
6 years ago

My pleasure… Anything I can do to stay cynical and positive! It’s a Buc’s Life!

Horse
Horse
6 years ago

I know most of us want the Bucs to win. I hope they can do it; this is a turning point for us if we can get this win. Go Bucs!

fredster
fredster
6 years ago

Love to win and could be a turning point, but not getting hopes up. Asking for two in a row with the way this secondary plays..we will put up points on their defense too, but don’t see us keeping up. Hope I’m wrong. Go Bucs!

scubog
scubog
6 years ago

There are going to be thousands of obnoxious “Gints” fans at our “home” stadium today. They will be on their feet chanting “Let’s go Giants.” They will look down their noses at us unsophisticated Bucs fans from little old Tampa. Then after the game head home to beautiful downtown Winerhaven. Just once I’d like to enjoy the game without the infestation of opposing fans who have such little respect for home team. Just once, I’d like to see the season pass holders show up and support their team and not sell their tickets for Christmas money.

Dbuc63
Dbuc63
Reply to  scubog
6 years ago

Being a long time holder myself, we have become accustomed to this as you know. I can only recall that 8 year stretch where we, hometown fans, outnumber the opposing team. I have “evolved” into this fan now that has several creative scripts or mannerisms I do to annoy them as well. (all in fun) If I didn’t, I’d have gone insane by now. lol.