Breaking down this weekend's four contests
Posted: Friday January 4, 2008 11:17AM; Updated: Friday January 4, 2008 11:36AM
New York Giants at Tampa Bay
My favorite game this weekend is Giants-Bucs. No, I don't mean the thrill-a-minute variety. I don't watch these things recreationally. I'm talking about the game in which I feel most confident as a handicapper.
I think the Bucs are weakest in the area in which the Giants are the strongest, O-line vs. D-line. I think that's the softest part of the Tampa Bay operation, and we know what the Giants can do when their rush is working.
I think Michael Strahan will have a big day against the Bucs' RT, Jeremy Trueblood, whom they're trying to tell us is a budding super star. If they don't give him help, and that's a silly premise already because I KNOW they're going to give him help, but assuming they're trying to prove something and they leave him alone against the ... all at once, now ... the "crafty veteran" ... then I give Michael a minimum of two sacks.
The Bucs closed out their season allowing a lot of sacks -- four apiece in three of their last four games. OK, they were early playoff clinchers and a lot of the stats are window dressing, but still, once you get into bad habits ...
Jeff Garcia is a resourceful quarterback, though. He buys time and yards. He engineers comebacks -- two against the Giants in their last two postseason losses, including that landmark game in which he brought the Niners back from 24 down in the fourth quarter. But I don't think they'll give him time to get his game together. If I were the Giants, I'd worry about a Joey Galloway-Sam Madison matchup that could be disastrous, but the New Yorkers aren't exactly suicidal and I'm sure they'll figure out a way to zone it up and keep such a confrontation from taking place.
The basic reason why I like the Giants so much is I think there's a difference in class here. Tampa Bay played in the weakest division. The Giants had to struggle. What bothers me, as a handicapper who traditionally leans to unpopular teams, is that everybody I talk to loves the Giants.
"That's because you only talk to people from around here, from Jersey," says The Flaming Redhead, a.k.a. Dear Wife. "If you lived in Tampa, everyone you met would love the Bucs."
That's another reason not to move down there.
Giants win it in a slow-scorer, 20-13.