Bucs-Giants a premier matchup in Week Two of NFL season

The highly anticipated start to the NFL regular season kicked off last week, giving sports fans at the University a break from their football team’s debacle against Arizona State and the Chicago Cubs’ abysmal season.

Teams like the San Francisco 49ers and Baltimore Ravens made strong statements in Week One, while other squads such as the New York Giants and Philadelphia Eagles left more to be desired.

However, there is still much football to be played this season, as Week Two offers a list of intriguing games. Here are this weekend’s must-see matchups.

*Tampa Bay Buccaneers at New York Giants*

With a disappointing loss to the Dallas Cowboys on opening night, the Giants became the first team since 1999 to lose their opener after winning the Super Bowl the previous season. Now, Eli Manning and Co. are trying to avoid becoming the first defending champs to go 0-2 since the Cowboys in 1993.

The Giants defensive unit was exploited by Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo last week, allowing more than 300 yards and three touchdowns through the air. Fantasy football owners regretted not knowing about wide receiver Kevin Ogletree, who gashed the New York secondary for 114 yards and two scores. The Giants’ defensive backs will be faced with an even tougher task of containing Buccaneers deep threat Vincent Jackson this week.

Tampa Bay had an impressive victory against Cam Newton and the Carolina Panthers last Sunday, getting revenge on the quarterback who scored eight touchdowns against its defense last season. The Bucs run defense was particularly notable, holding the Panthers to merely 10 yards rushing.

Expect the Giants to be fired up for this one, but the Bucs are not the same team who lost their final 10 games last season.

*Baltimore Ravens at Philadelphia Eagles*

Eagles quarterback Michael Vick told Comcast SportsNet Philadelphia before the season he thought his team had the potential to become a dynasty. The Eagles looked far from it in Week One, however, as they struggled to handle the woeful Cleveland Browns.

Despite outgaining the Browns by nearly 250 yards, it took a late touchdown pass by Vick with 1:18 in the fourth quarter to squeak by with the victory — mostly because of Vick’s four interceptions. Luckily for them, Browns quarterback Brandon Weeden matched Vick with four turnovers of his own, sporting a Rex Grossman-esque 5.1 quarterback rating.

Vick’s dynasty claims will be severely tested against the Ravens, who bulldozed through the Cincinnati Bengals last week with a 44-13 win. Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco had one of the best performances of his career, posting an 128.4 quarterback rating with two touchdowns.

The always talented Ravens defense was stellar as well, totaling four sacks of Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton and two turnovers, including an interception by the NFL’s premiere ball hawk, Ed Reed. Linebacker Ray Lewis continued to defy Father Time with his performance. The 17-year veteran registered 14 tackles (tied for the most in the NFL) and a sack.

Vick is entitled to his own opinion, but he better put his money where his mouth is against this defense.

*Detroit Lions at San Francisco 49ers*

Everyone remembers the “handshake game” last season in which the 49ers took down the Lions 25-14. The actions that led to the game’s outcome are a little blurry, but how could you forget Lions head coach Jim Schwartz chasing Jim Harbaugh down the field in a fiery rage?

Schwartz was the one who looked bad after all, but let’s not forget the firm handshake that Harbaugh gave him — one that can be expected from your girlfriend’s dad the first time you meet him. Not to mention the “pat” on the back, which would not go ignored by your fellow patrons at KAM’S on a Friday night.

Nevertheless, this game will come down to the guys on the field.

The 49ers looked like the league’s best team last week, manhandling the Packers’ offensive juggernaut. San Francisco also possessed a potent offense, as quarterback Alex Smith threw for 211 yards and two touchdowns while running back Frank Gore pounded the Packers’ defense for 112 yards and a score.

The Lions, on the other hand, were given all they could handle by St. Louis, edging out a 27-23 victory with a go-ahead touchdown with 10 seconds to play.

Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford, who was intercepted three times last week, will need to improve his play against the NFL’s most talented defense.

Make sure to tune in to this smash-mouth game between NFC playoff contenders.

*Denver Broncos at Atlanta Falcons*

Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning silenced all doubters with his 253-yard, two-touchdown performance against Pittsburgh’s stingy defense. The legendary quarterback looked as if he hadn’t missed a beat after missing all of last season.

The Broncos defense was also clutch, frustrating Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger by sacking him five times and returning an interception for a touchdown with less than two minutes left in the game.

Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan had a big day of his own last Sunday, throwing for nearly 300 yards with three touchdowns and a 136.4 quarterback rating. Ryan also had a rushing touchdown, which essentially gave running back Michael Turner the day off.

This Monday night matchup will surely draw a great deal of hype, as the Georgia Dome will be rocking. Don’t miss this exciting battle between two of the league’s most talented squads.

_Derek is a senior in Media. He can be reached at [email protected] Follow him on Twitter @feeldapaign._