Predictions & Projections
David Dorey
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* CHI at GB (THU) * DAL at SEA * MIN at IND * TB at NYG
ARI at NE * DET at SF * NO at CAR * TEN at SD
* BAL at PHI * HOU at JAC * NYJ at PIT * WAS at STL
* Updated CLE at CIN KC at BUF * OAK at MIA DEN at ATL (MON)

Prediction: TB 17, NYG 24 (Line: NYG by 8)

Players to watch: Doug Martin, Martellus Bennett

Players Updated: Hakeem Nicks

The Buccaneers squeaked out a win over the visiting Panthers using a shockingly good defensive effort from a unit that was among the worst in 2011. The Giants remain at home after being handed a big loss to the Cowboys in the league opener last Wednesday. The Giants had 11 days to prepare for this but after facing a surprisingly good Dallas defense, the Buccaneers show up after limiting the #1 rushing team to only ten yards on 13 carries. Be an interesting game between two teams that need more definition.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Homefield: Raymond James Stadium
  Opp Score   Opp Score
1 CAR 16-10 10 SD -----
2 @NYG ----- 11 @CAR -----
3 @DAL ----- 12 ATL -----
4 WAS ----- 13 @DEN -----
5 BYE ----- 14 PHI -----
6 KC ----- 15 @NO -----
7 NO ----- 16 STL -----
8 @MIN ----- 17 @ATL -----
9 @OAK ----- ----- ----- -----
News | Statistics | Roster
vs Rush Catch Pass
RB Doug Martin 90,1 4-30
WR Vincent Jackson 6-90,1
TE Brandon Myers 2-20

Pregame Notes: Really? In 2011, the Panthers showed up in Tampa Bay during week 13 and then rushed for a collective 163 yards on 39 carries with four touchdowns. This year? No player gained more than five rushing yards IN TOTAL. And the best runner was the wideout Kealoha Pilares (1-5). Interdivisional games can always be odd and unlike the rest but it was a great start to the season for the Buccaneers defense.

Josh Freeman only passed for 138 yards and one score but had no turnovers and merely managed the game. The rookie Doug Martin was the difference maker with 95 yards on 24 carries and four receptions for 23 more yards. He was a stick mover and kept the drives alive. This will be a big test for him going to New York though they coughed up 131 yards to DeMarco Murray last week. The Buccaneers do not have the same passing game as the Cowboys so that's unlikely to happen but Martin looked good in his debut, unlike say Trent Richardson.

Vincent Jackson is the new toy for Freeman and he was thrown ten passes - the next best only had four. Jackson ended with just 47 yards on four catches but should improve as he and Freeman get more chemistry. The entire passing game grades out as incomplete so far since Freeman did not throw much last week. That will have to change against the Giants. Mike Williams only caught two short passes against the Panthers but one was the lone touchdown. If Jackson and Williams could meet their potential, the wideouts here could be above average.

Somewhat encouraging was that the lone pass to Dallas Clark went for a 33 yard gain. Clark has been back to health after two seasons getting injured and could really add a much needed dimension to the offense in the coming weeks. He's worth keeping an eye on since the Bucs have a pretty kind schedule this year.

The difference in this game will be how much of the defense was real last week and if Freeman can pass more and keep the opponent from stacking the line against Martin.

Gaining Fantasy Points TB 29 12 31 31 12 14
Preventing Fantasy Points NYG 30 11 32 8 9 14

QB Josh McCown, TB @ATL 0000022011 ***
The Falcons have held a pair of talented quarterbacks in relative check--one TD each to Drew Brees and Andy Dalton--while McCown has yet to hit the 200-yard mark in pewter. Tough to see him getting on track enough here to warrant serious fantasy consideration.
RB Bobby Rainey, TB @ATL 7012100000 ***
Rainey has more upside than erstwhile starter Doug Martin: he's healthier, and he's coming off a game in which he rolled up 174 yards from scrimmage. No team has surrendered more RB TDs or combo yards to RBs than the Falcons, so while Martin is the riskier share of this split backfield Rainey appears to be the better fantasy option.
RB Doug Martin, TB @ATL 6003200000 ***
Lots of "ifs" here, with little time to answer them before a Thursday kickoff. Even if Martin plays in an extremely favorable matchup he'll be sharing touches with Bobby Rainey. Is a partial, hobbled Martin worth it against a Falcons D that's allowed more RB combo yardage and RB TDs than any other team this year? Probably not.
WR Vincent Jackson, TB @ATL 005701000 ****
Subdued Josh McCown numbers have kept a lid on VJax's productivity thus far this season, but he certainly knows his way around the Atlanta secondary--10-165-1 and 10-138-2 in the two-game set last season. Through two games this year Falcons have already allowed three different receivers to score and/or top 75 yards; even with McCown struggling those feel like baseline numbers for Jackson this week.
WR Mike Evans, TB @ATL 005600000 ***
It's been a slow build for the rookie, who has yet to score or top 50 yards as a pro. A date with a Falcons' secondary that's allowed multiple wideouts to turn one or both of those tricks in each of the first two games this season could be just what the doctor ordered to get Evans onto the fantasy radar.
TE Brandon Myers, TB @ATL 004300000 ***
Myers has filled in admirably while Austin Seferian-Jenkins adjusts to the NFL lifestyle and grapples with injury issues. Admirable, however, doesn't quite cut it for your fantasy lineup.
  Opp fgaFGMxpaXPM ConFac
K Patrick Murray, TB @ATL 2222 ****
The Falcons have allowed multiple field goal attempts in five of their last six, including both games this season, and last year they let Rian Lindell try three treys in each end of the home-and-home series. That should provide Murray with ample opportunity to build on his one career NFL field goal.

New York Giants
Homefield: Meadowlands Stadium
  Opp Score   Opp Score
1 DAL 17-24 10 @CIN -----
2 TB ----- 11 BYE -----
3 @CAR ----- 12 GB -----
4 @PHI ----- 13 @WAS -----
5 CLE ----- 14 NO -----
6 @SF ----- 15 @ATL -----
7 WAS ----- 16 @BAL -----
8 @DAL ----- 17 PHI -----
9 PIT ----- ----- ----- -----
News | Statistics | Roster
NYG vs TB Rush Catch Pass
QB Eli Manning 280,2
RB Peyton Hillis 30,1 2-10
RB Rashad Jennings
WR Victor Cruz 6-90,1
WR Mario Manningham 2-20

Pregame Notes: It wasn't that the Giants had a horrible game when they lost to the Cowboys. It was that all those big plays and Cowboy mistakes and good mojo just never happened. Eli Manning has historically owned the Cowboys but only managed 213 yards and one score. The wideouts were limited by the corner play of the Cowboys and so this week we need to see how much of the loss was just an improved Cowboys and how much was the natural malaise of winning yet another Super Bowl.

Ahmad Bradshaw ran for 78 yards on 17 carries and scored once. He looked vintage good, particularly once David Wilson lost a fumble on his second carry and was yanked from the gameplan. Yes, Wilson appeared to be crying on the sideline but he deeply cares about his job and knows just how much of his contract was incentive based. You fumble? You sit. Fortunately Tiki Barber was a fumbler until HC Tom Coughlin cured him with the "high and tight" method. Wilson has to learn since he was a fumbler in college and once you cough it up, everyone just tackles the ball instead of the player.

How well Bradshaw does will be interesting because the incredible job the Bucs did shutting down the Panthers run game last week. Chances are good that was more about being at home in the opener against a familiar opponent who had been a problem all last year. Bradshaw remains a must start.

This game should be an improvement for both Hakeem Nicks and Victor Cruz who were swallowed up by the Cowboys new cornerbacks. Cruz was held to six catches for 58 yards while Nicks only produced 38 yards on four receptions. That has to change and should with the Buccaneers allowing Steve Smith to gain 106 yards on seven catches. Bradshaw may be slightly risky facing the Bucs but the wideouts should turn it on and win the game.

Martellus Bennett was also a bigger part of the game plan with six targets for four catches and one touchdown against his old employer. It's worth keeping an eye to see if Bennett remains a target equal with the two main wide receivers this week as well.

Giants win this game because they must. A loss here slants the entire season in a bad direction.

Gaining Fantasy Points NYG 24 20 25 12 25 24
Preventing Fantasy Points TB 13 2 25 15 4 5

QB Eli Manning, NYG HOU 0000026012 ***
Sad to say, but Eli's 277 and two against the Cardinals last week feels like his ceiling for the season. A date with a Houston defense that's given up just one passing score in two games and an average of 265 yards certainly isn't favorable.
RB Rashad Jennings, NYG HOU 6014500000 ***
Jennings has 205 combo yards in two games and is easily the best thing going for the Giants' offense. Houston has allowed the likes of Darren McFadden and Darrel Young to find the end zone while giving up better than six yards per touch to opposing backs, clearing the way for another solid fantasy showing for Jennings.
WR Victor Cruz, NYG HOU 005701000 **
Well, the Giants heard Cruz's plea for more looks and doubled Victor's targets. But it's still not the offense that made Cruz... well, Cruz. The good news is, receivers targeted double-digit times against the Texans have been productive--combining for 19-189-1. So at least there's a chance here.
WR Rueben Randle, NYG HOU 004500000 ***
Randle is too inconsistently targeted and the Giants' offense too moribund for him to be trusted with a fantasy start.
TE Larry Donnell, NYG HOU 007700000 ***
Shockingly, Donnell has been the most consistent contributor in the Giants' passing game with 12-137-1 in two games. As tight ends go, you could do worse for fantasy help.
  Opp fgaFGMxpaXPM ConFac
K Josh Brown, NYG HOU 1122 ***
Tacking on points for an offense that's averaging 14 points per game is not exactly fantasy fodder.

* CHI at GB (THU) * DAL at SEA * MIN at IND * TB at NYG
ARI at NE * DET at SF * NO at CAR * TEN at SD
* BAL at PHI * HOU at JAC * NYJ at PIT * WAS at STL
* Updated CLE at CIN KC at BUF * OAK at MIA DEN at ATL (MON)

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