The defending Super Bowl champion New York Giants hoped to open the 2012 season the same way they finished 2011. They fell short with a tough loss to the Dallas Cowboys and hope to recover as they take on the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in Week 2 of the NFL season. Here is what you can expect from the Giants vs. Buccaneers game.
The Passing Game
Eli Manning was less than impressive in his 2012 debut. He only threw the ball for 213 yards and one touchdown in the game against the Cowboys. In one positive aspect, he didn't throw an interception, normally an Achilles heel for the quarterback. Victor Cruz continued as his main target, with six receptions for 58 yards, but also dropped a number of big passes. Martellus Bennett also picked up some revenge against Dallas, who let him go in the offseason, with a touchdown reception. It just wasn't enough for the win.
When former San Diego Chargers' superstar Vincent Jackson arrived in Tampa Bay, he called Josh Freeman a Top 10 quarterback. Freeman didn't look anything like a top quarterback in the Week 1 win over the Carolina Panthers. He only threw for 138 yards and a touchdown in the game. Jackson caught four balls for 47 yards and Mike Williams scored the touchdown. Those numbers will never beat the Giants.
The Running Game
Ahmad Bradshaw is now the man for the Giants after Brandon Jacobs left for the San Francisco 49ers. However, he did not make the most of his first game of 2012. He ran for 78 yards, most of it in the second half, with one touchdown. If he continues to struggle against Tampa Bay, expect rookie David Wilson to start to get more touches.
Rookie Doug Martin took over the starting running back job from incumbent LeGarrette Blount in 2012. Martin ran for a very nice 95 yards in his first NFL action, solidifying his job. Blount only touched the ball four times in the game, three on the ground for eight yards. Martin will need to carry the load for Tampa Bay to overcome New York.
While Tampa Bay lost in Week 1, they limited Cam Newton in the game, proving their defense is really stepping up. The secondary intercepted Newton twice in the game and picked up three sacks. If they can shut down the run and force Manning into some tough situations, they have a chance to add to their interception totals here to keep the game close.
The Giants couldn't stop the pass against Dallas and allowed a 100-yard rusher as well. That will hurt them if Freeman and Jackson get on the same page. They also need to work to stop Doug Martin from finding holes. This defense is not bad, but they need to play more disciplined.
The New York Giants should win this game, but they have to eliminate all mental mistakes on offense and play a shut down defense. Tampa Bay looked bad in the opening game with Carolina offensively, but they have a defense that can win games. The Giants vs. Buccaneers game could go either way, but Tampa Bay can only win with a perfect defensive performance. Prediction: New York: 35 Tampa Bay: 13.