A Must Win. No Exaggeration This Time. Giants vs Buccaneers Preview
Its back-against-the-wall. Its make-or-break. Its do-or-die. Its whatever idiom you want to use that would signify desperation as its use to describe the Giants current situation heading into their Week 4 matchup against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
The Bucs and Giants are both heading into Week 4 with little more than questions and uncertainty of where they are headed. Both should be able to leave this game with many of the questions answered. Tampa Bay has played just 2 games due to their week 1 being postponed from Hurricane Irma and the performances in those 2 games have been night and day. From a fairly efficient and convincing win over Chicago Bears to a complete and thorough loss to a Case Keenum led Minnesota Vikings. Which version of the Buccaneers will appear tomorrow?
When it comes to the 3-0 Giants, circumstances are somewhat similar but different. While they lack a win, they went from being completely inept offensively all season to becoming a scoring machine their last 8:00 minutes on the field. Now the once strength of the team, the defense has appeared unable to make the vital stops necessary just as the offense finally came to life. On top of that, a loss for Tampa Bay merely puts them below .500 while a loss for the Giants effectively ends their season.
As most have us already know, an 0-3 start is already such a deep hole that just 5 teams in league history have crawled out of it to make it into the playoffs. Another loss would drop the Giants to 0-4 which is a position that just a single team in the entire history of the league, the !992 San Diego Chargers, managed to qualify for the postseason. History is certainly and heavily against the Giants chances of playing past the regular season at 0-3 or 0-4. However, a win tomorrow can change a great deal in terms of optimism as 23 teams have recovered from 1-3 starts. Quite a difference a single win makes.
On defense, the Giants can rest easy on the fact that they are facing the Bucs a week before Doug Martin's suspension ends and backup Jacquizz Rodgers has never been considered much more than a decent 3rd down back. After getting ripped to shreds on the ground against the Eagles, its imperative if they are to win, that they shut down the run game and force everything on an increasingly up and down Jameis Winston. In the secondary, Janoris "Jackrabbit" Jenkins, Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie and a struggling Eli Apple will have their hands full with stalwart wide receiver Mike Evans as well as longtime thorn in the Giants side, DeSean Jackson. Week 1 stud B.J. Goodson will make his return but Olivier Vernon will be game time decision against an offensive line that for the most part, does an adequate job in pass protection although currently, Winston is on pace to absorb 48 sacks in 2017. Jason Pierre-Paul, Damon Harrison, and now Dalvin Tomlinson have once again come out to a slow start in term of sack production. Rookie prototypical tight end O.J. Howard,has primarily been a blocker thus far but has more than enough athletic ability and pass catching prowess to be a threat if nothing else.
On offense, when it comes to the injury report, luck is on the Giants side. stud Tampa Bay linebackers Lavonte David and Kwon Alexander as well as safety T.J. Ward will not be available due to injury. There really is no excuse as to why the Giants offense shouldn't be able to move the ball here. With the exception of Brett Jones, the Giants line is healthy(and poor) and with the quick hurry-up offense implemented last week to neutralize the inadequate pass protection, Eli Manning should be able to continue completing passes at as hes been doing at a career high rate even against a still respectable force that includes the likes of Gerald McCoy, Brent Grimes and Vernon Hargreaves. There is little to believe that there will be much of a running game but in retrospect, the Giants haven't really had a decent running game since the days of Brandon Jacobs and Ahmad Bradshaw. Orleans Darkwa and Paul Perkins simply aren't on their level and its quite obvious at this point. This offense moves through Eli and Odell Beckham jr. Sterling Shepard, Evan Engram and even Brandon Marshall have made their presences known since the start of the 4 quarter last week. If Eli can protect the ball and keep a healthy mix of short, intermediate, and deep passing game, this offense should produce as it was expected to prior to the season started and as we witnessed in a losing effort just a week ago.
Prediction: Giants season continues to hang by a thread in an ugly but deserved win. Giants 23 Buccaneers 22