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Buccaneers - Giants: What to Watch For: Defense


Which players should you watch, and which matchups will decide Sunday's game between the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and New York Giants? Find out here!

DT Gerald McCoy vs G Kevin Boothe/Chris Snee

If there was one player who made last week's game, it was Gerald McCoy. The third-year defensive tackle was constantly in the backfield, so much so that Greg Cosell of NFL Films noted it was like he was "literally shot out of a cannon" and that he played incredibly disruptively on the FantasyGuru podcast this week. McCoy now gets to go against an offensive line that used to be pretty good, but is now very inconsistent, especially in the run game. Quite frankly, McCoy should be able to be as disruptive as he was against the Carolina Panthers - and that should make life very difficult for the Giants' offense. Eli Manning does not thrive with pass rushers in his face, like every quarterback in the history of forever, and McCoy can make sure there are pass rushers in his face on almost every snap.

WR Victor Cruz vs CB Brandon McDonald/Anthony Gaitor/Eric Wright

Brandon McDonald was the Bucs' nickel/slot cornerback last week, and did a good job - but he wasn't facing a player of Victor Cruz's quality. Cruz is a sharp route runner and he does some special things with the ball in his hands, and McDonald, who was a street free agent just a few weeks ago, needs to have one hell of a game to keep up with him. There's also a small chance that the Bucs match up Gaitor on Cruz, although the cornerback is just returning from injury and it's not entirely clear where he stands in the internal ranking of cornerbacks. Finally, if E.J. Biggers is healthy and able to play, Eric Wright should move inside to cover Cruz with Biggers on the onside in nickel and dime packages.

Cruz didn't have a great game in the first week, with a few too many drops, but he's still a very dangerous weapon - and the Bucs have to stop him if they want to stop Manning.

DE Adrian Clayborn vs T Sean Locklear

Another matchup of a pass-rusher against an offensive lineman. This time, Clayborn gets one of the easiest matchups in Sean Locklear. The latter has played most of his career at right tackle and has mostly been a backup the past few years, mostly because he simply isn't that good anymore. Somehow, the Giants don't have anyone better at left tackle. Last year, Clayborn could have easily taken advantage of this matchup, but this year Clayborn hasn't quite looked like the same player. He seems a little less explosive and his pass-rushing moves haven't been very successful. Can he get it on track against the Giants? The Bucs will need him.