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Eye On The Buccaneers: Breaking down the matchup

EYE-CENTER-92817.jpg's Michael Eisen breaks down the opposing offense, defense, and special teams:

A look at the expected starters for the Buccaneers on Sunday

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. – The Giants, still seeking that elusive first victory, will face the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Sunday in Raymond James Stadium. Both teams are looking to bounce back after Week 3 losses. The Giants fell in Philadelphia on a last-second field goal, 27-24, while the Bucs were defeated by the Vikings in Minnesota, 34-17.

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Tampa Bay routed Chicago in its first game, 29-7, after its Kickoff Weekend game was postponed because of Hurricane Irma. The Giants have won the last four regular-season games in the series, plus one 2007 postseason game. They met most recently on Nov. 8, 2015, when the Giants earned a 32-18 triumph in Tampa. The Giants lead the series, 13-6.

What is the Buccaneers' biggest strength?

Their collection of offensive skill players. Start with third-year quarterback Jameis Winston, the first overall selection in the 2015 NFL Draft. The Bucs have tried to surround Winston with diverse receiving options and more speed this season. They added DeSean Jackson (a three-time Pro Bowler and a longtime Giants nemesis from his days with Philadelphia and Washington) and third-round draft choice Chris Godwin at wide receiver, and first-round selection O.J. Howard at tight end. And they still have Pro Bowl wide receiver Mike Evans, tight end Cameron Brate, and reliable slot receiver Adam Humphries, their top three receivers in 2016. Tampa Bay is without their leading running back, Doug Martin, who is serving a three-game NFL suspension. The Giants would have faced him had the Bucs' opener not been postponed.

Which player is key to the Buccaneers' offense?

Winston, who has improved significantly since the Giants last faced him in his rookie season two years ago. Though he's had some turnover issues (he threw three interceptions last week against the Vikings), Winston has a strong arm and he can make all the throws. When Winston gets hot, he is as productive as any quarterback in the league. Last year, he threw for franchise-record totals of 4,090 yards and 28 touchdowns (against 18 interceptions) while leading Tampa Bay to a 9-7 record. Winston scrambles to throw, not run, and is one of the league's most proficient out-of-pocket passers. Winston gets a lot of big completions on the run.

What is the strength of the Buccaneers' offense?

Photos from the all-time series between the Giants and Buccaneers

Without Martin, the Bucs rely more on their passing game, with no loss in production. Winston looks first toward Evans, who was targeted an NFL-high 173 times last season, when he caught 96 passes and scored 12 touchdowns. He is a physical receiver with the strength to overpower defensive backs, and he leads the team with 14 receptions this year. Jackson led the NFL with a 17.9-yard average in 2016, and has three catches for more than 20 yards this season. He has 63 receptions for 1,051 yards and six touchdowns in 16 games against the Giants. Humphries has eight catches, Godwin is another deep threat, and Brate is a frequent target on third down.

Which player is key to the Buccaneers' defense?

Five-time Pro Bowl defensive tackle Gerald McCoy is a disruptive, explosive game-wrecker. McCoy was a second-team All-Pro and a Pro Bowler last season, when he had a team-high 7.0 sacks, three fumble recoveries, two forced fumbles and five passes defensed. McCoy is largely responsible for Tampa Bay holding its first two opponents to 2.7 yards a carry.

What is the strength of the Buccaneers' defense?

The front seven – when all or most of them are healthy. Last week, nine of the 11 defensive starters either didn't play or got nicked up at some point in the game. The group has impressive speed and a knack for spoiling the plans and plays of opposing offenses. Middle linebacker Kwon Alexander has been limited to 17 snaps because of knee issues, but he is an exceptional player when healthy. Weakside backer Lavonte David leads the team with 16 tackles (12 solo).

Which player is key to the Buccaneers' special teams?

Bryan Anger and his outstanding punt coverage team. Last year, only 34% of Anger's punts (24 of 70) were returned, which was the NFL's third-best figure, and his 42.7-yard net average was fourth. None of Anger's four punts were returned last week in Minnesota. When an opponent does field one of Anger's punts, they usually don't go far. Defensive back Josh Robinson is an outstanding gunner whose 12 special teams tackles in 2016 were twice as many as anyone else on the team.

Based on the scouting report, the Giants must do this one thing to win:

Control Tampa Bay's passing game. Don't let Winston get into a rhythm and complete numerous passes to Evans and Jackson, who can give any group of defenders a collective headache.

Statistics you should know:

*Brett Grimes led the NFL in 2016 with 24 passes defensed. This year, he is the league's oldest starting cornerback at age 34. Grimes was inactive last week with a shoulder injury.

*In 2016, the Bucs had 198 passes of 10 or more yards, one less than league-leader Atlanta.

*At 23 years old, Winston is the youngest player in NFL history to throw 50 touchdown passes.

*In the first half of the 2016 season, the Bucs' defense allowed 29.0 points and 398.9 yards per game. In the second half, those numbers improved to 17.1 points and 337.0 yards.

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