The New York Giants’ 2017 season has treaded into dangerous waters. In order to start salvaging it, they’ll have to plunder a victory from the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
The Giants (0-3) make a trip down south for a late afternoon showdown with Tampa (4:05 PM, FOX), still searching for their first win of the season. They remain winless after a fourth quarter rally fell short last week in Philadelphia, as they made up a 14-0 deficit but were sunk by Jake Elliott’s 61-yard field goal as time expired.
The offense was afflicted once more by stalled drives and questionable play calling, but made some progress in the fourth quarter, as Eli Manning threw three touchdown passes, two to Odell Beckham Jr.
Meanwhile, the Buccaneers (1-1), pegged by many as the NFCs breakout team this season, are reeling from an embarrassing 34-17 defeat in Minnesota last week. Tampa’s deficit inflated as high as 28-3, as Vikings backup quarterback Case Keenum threw for a career-high 369 yards.
Jameis Winston threw for 328 yards, but also tossed three interceptions, the ninth multi-interception game of his career.
Season Series History
Playing Tampa due to the teams matching runner-up finishes in their respective divisions, the Giants will face them for the 21st time, leading the all-time series 14-6. The Giants have won five in a row over the Bucs, including the lone postseason meeting in 2008, a 24-14 win in the wild card round en route to Super Bowl XLII.
Tampa’s most recent victory over the Giants came in 2003, a 19-13 triumph. The most recent showdown also took place at Raymond James Stadium, with the Giants taking a 32-18 decision on the road. Eli Manning again rewrote the Giants’ record book, picking up his 96th career victory, passing Phil Simms for most in franchise history.
The Competitive Edge
Key Matchup To Watch: WR Odell Beckham Jr. vs CB Vernon Hargreaves
SEC football may dominate Saturdays, but it will take center stage on Sunday as well, as the respective LSU and Florida alums, who faced off against each other in college, square off in Tampa.
Nothing really new can be said about Beckham’s latest non-catching exploits, as the receiver flat out beseeched reporters this week to ask about the Buccaneers rather than his canine impression/possible protest to the President in the end zone against Philadelphia on Sunday.
Beckham will need a quiet game when it comes to attitude, but he can’t be quiet on the field if the Giants hope to break their losing streak. Beckham could possibly have a field day against a talented but depleted Buccaneers defense, as his college teammate, linebacker Kwon Alexander has been ruled out entirely, and linebacker Lavonte David and safety TJ Ward, the latter of whom Beckham referred to as a “hell raiser” earlier this week, are doubtful.
Hargreaves himself needs a good week, as he’ll have to manage the Giants’ potential of deep threats without several of his strong teammates. Tampa Bay allowed 369 yards passing to Keenum last week. If Beckham is allowed to get loose, things could get very ugly for the Buccaneers.
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The Giants Will Win If…
They take advantage of a depleted Tampa Bay defense and continue the offensive success they had in the last 15 minutes on Sunday.
It’s no secret that the Giants’ offense has been a major factor in their dreadful start. Through the first 11 quarters of the season, the Giants mustered a mere single touchdown, one that even had a 15-yard unsportsmanlike conduct penalty attached. In the fourth quarter in Philadelphia, the Giants were able to break loose for 24 points, and had it not been for some dubious penalties and questionable playcalling, they might’ve been able to make it 28. Victory was not to be, but it gives a Giants a quantum of confidence heading into October.
As you can tell from the injury list, Tampa Bay will be missing a good portion of their defensive studs, and several more will be out potentially hobbled. It presents a golden opportunity for the Giants’ offense to keep the ball rolling into the new month, and also the potential to score. The Giants have yet to reach the 30-point plateau in the Ben McAdoo era. Could this chance against the hobbled Bucs unit finally be the cure?
The Buccaneers Will Win If…
They match the Giants’ desperation and intensity.
The focus will be on the Giants’ 0-3 start, but Tampa Bay is likewise in a bit of an early desperation mode. With Hurricane Irma forcing them into an early bye, the Bucs sit at 1-1, but already are a game and a half behind the undefeated Atlanta Falcons in the NFC South.
Bucs head coach Dirk Koetter acknowledged this week that he’s far more concerned about his team’s 1-1 mark than the Giants’ 0-3 standing, and with a combination of Atlanta’s hot start, the no-show against Minnesota last week, and the fact the Bucs have to play 16 consecutive games through no fault of their own, it’s easy to see why. The Buccaneers need the subs on defense to step up and force the Giants into an early depression.
Despite the 0-3 hole, the Giants’ next four games leading up to their bye (a visit to Denver is sandwiched by home dates with the Chargers and Seahawks over the next three weeks) are all definitely winnable and could provide the perfect spark to a comeback.
The trek must start this week and the Buccaneers’ missing defensive starts could prove to be the most valuable players in their absence. If the Giants pick up where they left off offensively, they can fulfill a wish many in the organization expressed last season…one of high scoring offensive game, and a win that doesn’t come down to the last possession.
Giants 31, Buccaneers 20