New York Giants (-2.5, 49.5) at Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Eli Manning played arguably the best game of his 12-year career last week; but not even throwing six touchdowns and zero interceptions and leading his team to 49 points could get the Giants a win, as they lost a heartbreaking 52-49 decision to the Saints. Jameis Winston’s career may be just beginning, but he too knows the disappointment of your best effort falling short.
“Famous Jameis” had his best game as a pro two weeks ago, throwing for two scores and almost 300 yards against the Redskins, but his team blew a 24-point lead to lose 31-30. Winston and the Bucs showed poise and bounced back with a win the following week (23-20 in OT in Atlanta). Now the New York Giants (4-4, 1-3 road) will try to show the same poise when they visit the Tampa Bay Buccaneers (3-4, 1-2 home) this afternoon at Raymond James Stadium (4:05 PM Eastern).
The Giants have been handed the NFC East on a silver platter but, so far, they’ve put the lid back on and settled for eating at Jack in the Box instead. One reason they’ve struggled to pull away is their dismal record away from home. New York is 1-3 on the road so far this season, despite having an opportunity to win every one of those games. Sloppy play and foolish mistakes – particularly late in games – has the Giants looking like a middle of the pack squad.
Part of the reason New York hasn’t been able to close is the sheer lack of a pass rush. The Giants are dead-last in sacks, with a pitiful nine through eight games. But the Giants will find out Saturday if Jason Pierre-Paul is set to return to his rightful spot at defensive end. Even minus a few fingers, JPP should be able to improve this pass rush in a noticeable way.
Winston enters this week having not thrown an interception in three straight games; but he’ll need to be wary of where he puts the ball on Sunday. Even without any push up front, Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie and this secondary have managed 13 interceptions on the year. Winston will also likely be without WR Vincent Jackson again this week.
Of course, this Giants D is hurting beyond JPP. The unit will also be missing linebacker Jon Beason and cornerback Prince Amukamara, injuries that won’t help the 19th-ranked run defense.
Bucs running back Doug Martin has had a resurgence this season after many thought his career had flamed out. Martin has gone over 100 yards in three of his last four games and should be a big part of the offense again on Sunday.
But as improved as this Bucs team has looked over the past three weeks, one still has to be wary of trusting this team at home. Before beating Jacksonville in Week 5, Tampa Bay had lost 11 straight at Raymond James. The Giants also haven’t lost to the Buccaneers since 2003.
Adding to the concern, Tampa is surrendering 28.4 points per game and will be taking on a red-hot offense. All this amounts to the erratic Giants being the better play this week. Look to them to put the disappointment of New Orleans in the rearview with a decisive win.
Pick: Giants -3.
(Photo Credit: Keith Allison (Originally uploaded to Flickr)[https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/].)
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