The Giants (2-7) vs. the Tampa Bay Buccaneers (3-6) at the Meadowlands in East Rutherford, New Jersey, on Sunday, Nov. 18, at 1 p.m.
Snowpocalypse is apparently over for now, and it should be a relatively pleasant but chilly day for this game. The high temperature will be in the low 40s, but it’ll be mostly cloudy with the usual light Meadowlands winds, so it’ll probably feel like it’s in the 30s. The good news is with no more snow in the forecast, Northern New Jersey might have the roads cleared by kickoff.
WHAT IT MEANS
If you’re rooting for the tank so they can get a higher draft position, then this is another huge game against a team that figures to be in the mix for a top-10 or even top-five pick. As bad as the Giants are, a couple of wins could push them much closer to 10 and that much farther away from being in the mix for a franchise quarterback. That’s not so important to the players and coaches on the field, though, so for them, this is another golden opportunity to keep things positive and for Pat Shurmur to keep his locker room together. I know, for the tankers, that doesn’t mean much, but trust me, it means the world to the franchise.
PLAYER TO WATCH: Bucs DE Jason Pierre-Paul
Remember him? He certainly remembers the Giants, and he warned them he’s coming for them on Sunday. The Giants dumped JPP in the offseason for a third-round pick (and to move up a few spots in the fourth round) in a move that was part salary dump and part an attempt to clean up the attitude in their locker room. There was also some thought that as a 4-3 end, he’d be a poor fit in the Giants’ new 3-4 scheme.
Unfortunately, the Giants sure could’ve used him. Their pass rush has been absolutely atrocious, while he’s had eight sacks to lead the Bucs and sure looks like he’s close to the dominant player he used to be. The Bucs move him from side to side, but it makes sense that they’ll target RT Chad Wheeler, who has been inconsistent at best this season, especially with LT Nate Solder coming off his finest game. There’s probably no way for the Giants to completely prevent an on-field reunion between JPP and Eli Manning. They just need to make sure it doesn’t happen multiple times throughout the game.
The Giants found a little of their old Manning magic on Monday night and even a bit of offensive consistency. But as Shurmur noted several times after the game, the real trick is to do it again. Maybe they can, but there were still enough bad signs with their offense — dropped passes, poor run blocking, miscommunication. Maybe if the offensive line plays as well as it did in San Francisco, they can build on that performance. Unfortunately, that performance was an anomaly over the last two years for the line. Regardless, they will need an offensive show in this game because the Bucs have the NFL’s No. 1 offense and No. 1 passing offense thanks in large part to the play of ex-Jets quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick.
Now, the Redskins did hold the Bucs to just three points last week, but FitzMagic still threw for 406 yards, so it wasn’t like he was really contained. And that’s a problem because the Giants defense didn’t look good against the 49ers and Nick Mullens last week. Their tackling was a huge problem. And they really struggled trying to contain 49ers tight end George Kittle, which could open the door for Tampa Bay’s O.J. Howard to have a big game. In theory, this game is shaping up as an offensive shootout, which is what most of the Bucs’ games this season have been. It seems unlikely the Giants will be able to shut down FitzMagic completely, which means the Giants will have to keep up with him. It will take at least one more good offensive performance from them to make me believe they’re capable of doing that. … Bucs 31, Giants 24.
MY RECORD: 5-4
MY RECORD WHEN PICKING GIANTS TO WIN: 0-2
MY RECORD WHEN PICKING GIANTS TO LOSE: 5-2