Where: MetLife Stadium, East Rutherford, N.J. (turf, outdoors)
When: Sunday, 1 p.m. ET (Fox)
Spread: Giants by 7
Forecast: Sunny, low 70s
Records: Giants (Overall: 0-1, NFC East: 0-1), Buccaneers (Overall: 1-0, NFC South 1-0)
Past results: The Giants won the last meeting, 24-0, in Week 3 of the 2009 season. New York also beat Tampa Bay, 24-14, in the wild card round in 2007.Series record: Giants lead 11-6.
What matters: The Giants were out-possessed badly in their 24-17 season-opening loss to the Dallas Cowboys (34:07-25:53) and that has a lot to do with poor run defense. DeMarco Murray ran for 131 yards on 20 carries, and as he continued to extend drives, the Giants defenders -- particularly the defensive tackles -- grew tired. Tampa Bay had 130 rushing yards on 36 carries in a Week 1 win over the Carolina Panthers. If New York quarterback Eli Manning is going to have a chance to win this game, he’ll need as much time as the defense can give him.
Who matters: Giants rookie running back David Wilson fumbled in his second professional carry and hasn’t rushed the ball since. Coach Tom Coughlin has been impressed with Wilson’s response to the adversity, but that’s not enough to smooth things over completely. As Wilson said, he’ll have to “raise eyebrows” this week to get back in his coach’s good graces and that might not necessarily be as a running back. Wilson is also the team’s kick returner and insists he’s close to breaking one for a touchdown. Regardless of whether he’s right, the Giants need Wilson’s speed, because starter Ahmad Bradshaw has lost nearly all of his.
Key matchups: It’s not that the Giants offensive line played terribly in Week 1 (they certainly didn’t play well, but that’s not the point here). The reality is, the Buccaneers front four looked extremely fast on Sunday (two sacks; they held the Panthers to 10 yards rushing) and it’s going to take a significantly improved performance from tackles Sean Locklear and David Diehl if Manning is going to have time to throw the ball. The run defense wasn’t much better, but Manning didn’t receive the protection he’s grown accustomed to against the Dallas Cowboys.
Injuries of note: Bucs running back LeGarrette Blount practiced on Thursday after sitting out Wednesday’s session with a neck injury. Rookie Doug Martin may have had 95 yards in his professional debut, but Blount gives Tampa Bay a rare commodity.
“He’s had this ability since our time at Oregon where that initial hit isn’t going to take him down,” former collegiate teammate and current Giants linebacker Spencer Paysinger told CBSSports.com. “And also, he presents the challenge of hurdling people. He’s done it dozens of times… He knows that he’s a 250-pound running back that actually has some pretty good speed. So, when a DB gets him on the edge, he knows that they’re not going to challenge him. They’re going to go low.”
The Buccaneers will try to win the possession battle in an effort to neutralize the Giants’ offense, and Blount gives them the opportunity to do that.
Injuries of note: Also, keep an eye on Giants defensive tackle Marvin Austin (back), who could make his regular season debut on Sunday, as well as cornerbacks Prince Amukamara (ankle) and Michael Coe (hamstring). The latter two have been practicing and might just have to play through pain on Sunday.
Inside stuff: For the second consecutive week, Giants fans can expect to see veteran Sean Locklear starting at left tackle. Will Beatty (back) is off the injury report, but Coughlin told the media not to expect any change until he announces one. Beatty played the blocking tight end role in the jumbo formation in the loss to the Cowboys.
Connections: Beside familial relations (Giants tight end Martellus Bennett will likely be asked to block his bother, Buccaneers defensive end Michael), the two teams have several coaching connections. Buccaneers offensive coordinator Mike Sullivan previously served as the Giants wide receivers and quarterbacks coach while defensive coordinator Bill Sheridan was the Giants’ DC in 2009. He previously worked as the Giants linebackers coach as well. Giants defensive line coach Robert Nunn was in the same role with the Buccaneers in 2009. Running back D.J. Ware was with the Giants from 2008 until this August, when he was waived. Tampa Bay offensive tackle Jamon Meredith also played for New York in 2010.
Stat you should know: Jason Pierre-Paul, Justin Tuck and Osi Umenyiora might be the most-feared pass-rushing trio in the NFL, but not one of them touched Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo in Week 1. Even though defensive tackles Linval Joseph and Rocky Bernard each recorded a sack, the ends know the defense lives and dies with them. To put it mildly, they’re all eager to create havoc for quarterbacks once again.
Bulletin board quote: Coughlin, after being told that Tuck hasn’t slept well since the season-opening loss: “None of us have slept well. I hope the whole room is full of people that didn’t sleep well. That’s the point.
Looking ahead: Nobody wants to start 0-2, but the good news is that the Giants have the Carolina Panthers next week and the Philadelphia Eagles after that. This is the easier portion of the Giants schedule, because down the road, the San Francisco 49ers and Green Bay Packers are looming.
Prediction: Buccaneers 20, Giants 17