(1-2 straight up)
I pulled myself out of "Prove it" mode for last week's prediction, and I was almost vindicated. The Giants' fourth quarter offensive explosion almost won them the game, and without a John Jerry penalty (or if the NFL's rules regarding touchdown catches weren't needlessly complex) I might have even nailed the final score (28-24). But it wasn't to be.
It's bad enough that we still don't know if the Giants can count on any kind of contribution from their offense (even with Odell Beckham finally healthy), but now we don't know if they can count on their defense to get a stop when they absolutely need it.
Perhaps this past Sunday we saw the spark that finally ignites the Giants' offense, and the slap in the face that gets the defense to play as a disciplined unit. I can't say that I'd be surprised if the offense comes out and takes advantage of a hurting Buccaneers' defense and the defense is able to take advantage of Jameis Winston's gunslinger tendencies. But until they actually show me that they are doing it, I'm not picking them to win.
Final score: Buccaneers 24, Giants 21
(0-3 straight up)
The Giants are -3 and have struggled to run the ball effectively as they are currently last in the NFL rushing per game. Luckily, the Buccaneers have the same issue as they are 27th in the NFL in yards on the ground per game. Both teams will try to win this game through the air and the Giants have the edge in defending the pass. Game will be close throughout but a late field goal from Aldrick Rosas gets New York their first win of the season.
Final score: Giants 31, Buccaneers 28
(2-1 straight up)
If the Giants are going to stick with a quick passing game, they might have a chance. That could help diminish the presence of Gerald McCoy up front, who’s had no problem getting into the backfield this season. He already has 7.5 pressures in two games. There’s enough injuries on the Tampa Bay defense -- especially Lavonte David and Kwon Alexander -- that the Giants should have an advantage in the middle if they want to work some running backs into the passing game more or have this be the game where Evan Engram is a focus down the seam.
On defense, the concern is how the Giants decide to cover DeSean Jackson. Janoris Jenkins will likely take Mike Evans and that matchup could be worked to a draw. If the Giants stick with keeping Eli Apple outside on Jackson, there could be an issue. Apple has been one of the most picked on corners in the league so far this year and he hasn’t done much to deter that. He’s tied as the third-most targeted corner through three games and among 74 who have been thrown at 10 or more times, he ranks 54th in yards allowed per pass and 65th in Success Rate.
This game feels like it could be close and because of that I’m going to take the home team by a field goal.
Final score: Tampa Bay 23, Giants 20
(1-2 straight up)
Last week was a kick in the gut after the way we played in the fourth. I think the Giants use the momentum of that quarter, along with the anger of losing like that, and steal a W in Tampa Bay. Our defense should limit their explosive plays, and their defense is very burnable on the back end.
Final score: Giants 28, Tampa Bay 21
(1-2 straight up)
I just don’t really know how to feel about this game.
The Giants are 0-3, and they quite honestly haven’t deserved to win a game yet. They are on the road. Key defensive players Olivier Vernon and Jonathan Casillas are question marks. The Giants have played one good quarter of offensive football out of 12. They haven’t really played a good defensive game yet.
On the other hand, I still have a hard time believing that this is a terrible football team. The 2013 Giants that started 0-6? Now, that was a terrible football team and I have no idea how it won six games. This team? I can’t wrap my head around the idea that a team that won 11 games a year ago and which appears to have a better roster is suddenly a terrible team.
The Bucs are banged up on defense, and I think that might give the Giants an opening. Somehow, I think they pull this one out.
Final score: Giants 24, Bucs 23