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Giants vs. Buccaneers: 10 things to watch for

Posted Sep 30, 2017

The Giants face the Buccaneers in Tampa Bay, Sunday at 4:05 PM ET:


1. GET THAT FIRST ONE

Irritated is the way coach Ben McAdoo described the mood of the Giants coming off a heartbreaking loss in Philadelphia, their third in a row to start a season that began with high expectations. Meanwhile, their three NFC East rivals all improved to 2-1 as Big Blue fell to 0-3 overall and 0-2 in the division. Now the Giants head to Tampa Bay, where they will take on a 1-1 Buccaneers team that is looking to rebound from a 34-17 loss to the Vikings.
“We need to keep fighting through,” McAdoo said this week. “I believe in this team. I believe in the potential of this team. It starts with me, and we need to keep fighting to get better and we need to keep fighting to get the win. Got to get that first one.”

2. WINNING STREAK

Big Blue looks to extend a five-game winning streak over the Buccaneers this week. In their most recent matchup, the Giants defeated the Bucs, 32-18, at Raymond James Stadium in 2015. The streak also includes a 24-14 wild card win in their Super Bowl XLII run. The Giants have outscored the Buccaneers, 138-69, in that span.

3. GIANTS INJURY REPORT

Questionable: DE Olivier Vernon (ankle), LB Jonathan Casillas (ankle/wrist), RB Orleans Darkwa (back), OL Brett Jones (hip)

>>FACT OR FICTION: PREDICTIONS FOR BUCCANEERS

4. BUCCANEERS INJURY REPORT

Out: LB Kwon Alexander (hamstring)

Doubtful: LB Lavonte Davis (ankle), S T.J. Ward (hip)

Questionable: DE Robert Ayers (knee), CB Brent Grimes (shoulder), DT Gerald McCoy (ankle), DE Noah Spence (shoulder), G J.R. Sweezy (back)


5. POSSIBLE DEBUTS

With Orleans Darkwa dealing with a back issue, rookie running back Wayne Gallman could be gearing up for his first NFL game. The fourth-round pick was one of the most productive running backs in school history at Clemson, where he helped the Tigers to back-to-back national championship games, winning one of them. 



Meanwhile, McAdoo said offensive lineman D.J. Fluker is ready if the team needs him. Brett Jones, who has played left guard the last two weeks, is dealing with a hip issue. He came in to play the position after Justin Pugh slid to right tackle when Bobby Hart aggravated an ankle injury early in Week 2. 

6. SIGN OF THINGS TO COME?

The Giants scored all 24 of their points in the fourth quarter last week against the Eagles. It was their highest-scoring fourth quarter since Sept. 16, 2012, when they scored 25 in a 41-34 comeback victory vs. none other than Tampa Bay. Eli Manning threw three touchdowns in the final 13 minutes last week, two to Odell Beckham Jr. and a 77-yarder to Sterling Shepard, the longest play of the second-year wide receiver’s career.



7. RUN D LOOKS TO REBOUND

One of the biggest surprises in the Giants’ 0-3 start is the run defense, which is allowing a league-high 153.3 yards per game. This comes a year after the unit gave up 120 yards just once in 17 games, including postseason. So far, they have given up 129, 138 and 193 yards on the ground in their first three outings. The Giants will look to improve those numbers against a Buccaneers team that is ranked 26th in the NFL with 71.5 rushing yards per game.

8. LOOKING FOR 1ST INT

The Giants didn’t grab their first interception until Week 5 last season and still went on to finish the year with 17, one fewer than the Chiefs, Chargers and Ravens, who were tied for the most in the NFL. The Giants think they can move that timetable up a week against Jameis Winston, who is coming off a three-interception outing against Minnesota. Only Philip Rivers (38) has thrown more interceptions than Winston (36) since the Heisman Trophy winner came into the league in 2015.


9. PREPPING FOR EVANS-JACKSON DUO

Mike Evans and DeSean Jackson make up one of the best wide receiver duos in the NFL today. The former is 6-foot-5 and 231 pounds, and the latter is 5-10, 175. It’ll be interesting to see how defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo matches up his corners against the two different – but dangerous – receivers. “They have two good receivers,” Spags said. “That’s the challenge right there.”

10. QUICK PASSES

According to Pro Football Focus, Eli Manning got rid of the ball on average in 1.86 seconds last week against the Eagles. Offensive coordinator Mike Sullivan said that the short passes were a way to “kick start” the offense against a dynamic pass rush, but it’s never wise to have the same plan – whatever it may be -- week in and week out in the NFL. “I think anytime you are exclusively one scheme, that can hurt you,” Sullivan said.