New York Giants (2-0) vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (0-2), Raymond James Stadium, Tampa, Sunday, Sept. 27th, 1 PM Eastern, Fox
By Z-Man of Predictem.com
Point Spread: Giants -7/Buccaneers +7
The New York Giants were expected to contend for the NFC championship this season, and after beating Dallas in the grand opening of the Cowboys’ new stadium Sunday night, the G-Men are off to a 2-0 start.
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers, on the other hand, were expected to have their problems this year as they transitioned to a new head coach and a new starting quarterback. And after getting beat up in Buffalo last Sunday, the Bucs have started 0-2.
So New York will try to stay undefeated while Tampa will shoot to avoid 0-3 when the two teams hook up Sunday afternoon at the New Sombrero.
New York opened this season with a 23-17 win over the Washington Redskins. The Giants jumped out to a 17-0 lead, with the help of a fumble return for a score by DE Osi Umenyiora. And they outgained the ‘Skins 351-272, and held a 36/24 time-of-possession advantage. But they lost the cover as 6 1/2-point home favorites when Washington QB Jason Campbell connected with TE Chris Cooley on a 17-yard touchdown with 1:37 left in the game.
That late score also pushed that game over its total of 37.
Sunday night, instead of a defensive struggle, New York won a shoot-out, getting a game-winning field goal from Lawrence Tynes at the buzzer for a 33-31 win in Big D. The Giants got outrushed by the Cowboys by an alarming 251-97, but intercepted Dallas QB Tony Romo three times. And in the clutch, down by two points with three minutes to go and a 1st-and-20 at their own 15-yard-line, QB Eli Manning, with the help of one very kind deflection, drove the G-Men into FG range for Tynes game-winner.
New York beat Dallas outright as three-point dogs on the road. And the game went over its total of 45 on a Manning TD pass early in the fourth quarter.
Tampa opened its season with a 34-21 home loss to the Cowboys, then fell to the Bills last week 33-20. The Buccaneers outrushed Dallas 174-118 and held a 34/26 TOP advantage, but the defense gave up three long Romo TD passes. TB couldn’t cover that day as 4 1/2-point home dogs, and a 20-7 game through three quarters cruised over its total of 40 when the teams combined for 28 fourth-quarter points.
Sunday in Buffalo the Bucs fell behind 17-0, and although they battled back to within 20-14 at the half, could get no closer. Tampa got outrushed 218-57, and could not cover as four-point road dogs. And thanks mainly to early fireworks, the game went over its total of 42.
In his first two games as the Bucs’ starting QB, Byron Leftwich has hit on 51 of 91 throws (56%) for 572 yards (6.3 YPA), with four scores and two INTs.
Manning, meanwhile, has completed 45 of 67 pass attempts this year (67%) for 586 yards (8.75 YPA), with three TDs and an INT.
These two teams last met two seasons ago in an NFC Wild Card-round playoff game, when the Giants, on their way to that Super Bowl championship, beat the Bucs in Tampa 24-14. New York outrushed TB that day 100-69 and won the turnover battle 3-0.
Most off-shore football betting outlets opened this game with the Giants favored by seven points, with a total of 42.5 or 43. And while the line has held steady in early action, the total has been bumped a point to 44. New York is also listed at right around -290 on the various moneylines, with Tampa getting +240 as home underdogs.
The Giants went 12-4 vs. the pointspreads last season, 6-2 ATS on the road and 5-2 vs. the numbers when giving a touchdown or more.
Tampa went 7-8-1 ATS last year, 4-4 vs. the numbers at home and 2-3-1 ATS as dogs.
Sagarin’s PURE POINTS ratings at USAToday.com rank the Giants fourth in the league at 24.2, the Buccaneers 24th at 16.9. Sagarin’s current NFL home-field advantage figure sits at 3.2.
On the NFL futures betting markets, as of Tuesday afternoon, New York is being offered as an even-money favorite to win the NFC East this season, 5/1 to win the NFC championship and 12/1 to win the Super Bowl.
The Bucs, meanwhile, are getting 30/1 to win the NFC South, 100/1 to win the NFC, and 200/1 to win the Super Bowl.
Zman’s Pick: I believe the NYG defense will force Leftwhich into making a bunch of mistakes. I believe the TB coaching staff is aware of that too, so expect a bunch of unsuccessful rushing attempts. I hate laying points on the road so am recommending a play on the under.