After the atrocity in New Orleans, the Giants will look to avenge themselves in Tampa Bay against a young Buccaneers team that is much better than most people give it credit for. While the Bucs are just 3-4, a one-point loss to the Redskins is the only thing keeping 2014’s worst team under .500 at the moment.
Additionally, the Bucs are coming off an encouraging win in Atlanta, while the Giants are of course coming off their horrendous defensive performance and soul-crushing loss in the Superdome.
Eli Manning threw a career-high six touchdowns in a hostile environment and still lost 52-49 thanks to the Giants’ hideous defensive performance. Though New York has a new defensive coordinator in Steve Spagnuolo, it’s more of the same from this group, which has gotten gashed through the air for years now.
Even with Manning’s stellar performance, the Giants allowed opposing QB Drew Brees to tie an NFL record with seven touchdowns—he entered the game with just eight for the season. Even so, they still had a late lead, before a facemask penalty by punter Brad Wing set the Saints up in field-goal range and allowed Kai Forbath to knock one in with no time remaining.
While “all signs point” to defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul returning against the Bucs after being a full participant in practice, fans should temper expectations for him. After all, he still hasn’t proved he can play in the wake of his fireworks accident. He also had nine sacks in the team’s final five games last season, which could be viewed as a late push for a big contract in meaningless games.
The mere fact is that JPP hasn’t consistently proved he’s one of the game’s elite defensive ends, but maybe his incident will make him more motivated to dominate. The Giants could certainly use that type of fire from the front four this Sunday against Tampa.
The star wide receiver is tied for second in touchdowns among wide receivers in their first 20 career games, according to the Giants’ official Twitter account. Beckham trails only Randy Moss, who had 20 in his first 20 games.
The Giants have a whopping 11 players on the injury report this week,
It’s mainly guys who were out last week with some new faces mixed in, such as wide receiver Rueben Randle. He did not practice Wednesday, and if he can’t go Sunday, an already-thin group of wide receivers is going to lose an established weapon.
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Every NFL team endures injuries, and head coach Tom Coughlin would be the first to tell you that there are no excuses. Blame general manager Jerry Reese for the team’s razor-thin depth for the Giants’ lack of competence when key players go down.
Evans, the second-year wide receiver, is often overlooked because he came from an amazing draft class last year that was headlined by Giants stud Odell Beckham Jr.
He’s having a down year this season after an explosive 1,000-yard performance as a rookie. Evans has been banged up and has had to undergo another quarterback change in Tampa, but the 6’5″ wideout cannot be overlooked. He’s big and quick and a huge threat to be a game-changer on Sunday.
Though he has yet to have a game with double-digit catches this year, you can blame rookie QB Jameis Winston for that. When he finally realizes how valuable Evans is, especially on the deep ball, this duo will be one of the best in the game.
The Giants usually struggle against mobile quarterbacks, and though Winston makes his noise with his arm, he still has the ability to avoid pressure by moving in the pocket.
After years of having the most feared defensive line in the league, the Giants are now a laughingstock. Opposing quarterbacks have enough time to do their grocery shopping between the time they snap the ball and the time they release it, which makes it much easier for them to go through their reads multiple times and find an open receiver.
Let’s not blame Jason Pierre-Paul for this debacle. The Giants took a “one man’s trash is another man’s treasure” approach to their defensive line in free agency, and they’re paying for it now. They rank last in the league with just nine sacks in eight games and have shown how ugly the defense is when QB pressure isn’t masking it.
Winston is a rookie quarterback who is prone to making mistakes. Though he threw four interceptions against the Panthers earlier in the year, he hasn’t thrown a pick in three weeks—the Giants need to pressure him and change that.
With Rueben Randle affected by a hamstring injury and less than a sure bet to play Sunday, Dwayne Harris may have to step up in his absence.
Only the Giants would sign a guy as a special teams player and have him become their No. 2 receiving option just a few weeks later, but they mistakenly thought Victor Cruz would be ready to start the season and cut James Jones, who has six touchdowns on the season for the Packers.
Harris hasn’t had a 100-yard game this season, but he had two touchdowns last week in New Orleans and tied his career total with three on the season. He’s far from a solid option as a No. 2 wide receiver, but once again, the roster is poorly constructed.
Though he won’t be able to carry an offense, hopefully Odell Beckham Jr. can get off to a hot start and draw enough attention to make Harris useful on Sunday.
After I picked the Giants to win a close game in New Orleans, they once again displayed their inability to close out a game in the fourth quarter.
Guessing they’d lose on a last-second field goal set up by a facemask penalty by their punter, though? That’s a new one for sure.
The bottom line is that this team finds ways to lose games in the most inexplicable and frustrating ways, so banking on it to win on the road at this point is just unwise. The Giants will be short-handed again on the defensive side and also could be without a key offensive target in Randle, so there’s not much to like heading into this matchup.
My guess is that Doug Martin runs free and Mike Evans has a huge day to lead the Bucs back to .500, as the Giants sink further into a hole, and the hot seat for Coughlin gets a little warmer.