NFL Wire News

Week 9: Giants at Bucccaneers

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The Sports Xchange

New York Giants (4-4) at Tampa Bay Buccaneers (3-4)

Sunday, 4:05 p.m. ET, at Raymond James Stadium, Tampa, Fla. – TV: FOX

*TV announcers: Kenny Albert, Daryl Johnston, Laura Okmin

*Keys to the game: Bucs rookie QB Jameis Winston has made quick strides in his development, including not turning the ball over once in the past three games. He’ll need to continue that level of play against counterpart Eli Manning, who is coming off a six-touchdown performance at New Orleans.

The Saints game was a shootout from start to finish, but the Bucs might not be much better equipped to slow the Giants’ passing game. Tampa Bay has only two interceptions on the season, none by cornerbacks, and a modest 17 sacks. One of the keys for Manning is getting support from his 27th-ranked ground game. Opponents hold the ball roughly four and a half minutes longer per game than the Giants, which has contributed to their defensive giving up a league-high average of 315.4 passing yards per game.

Winston has the support of a much stronger ground game thanks to Doug Martin and Charles Sims, who help set up high percentage passes off play-action. The Bucs are likely to be without WR Vincent Jackson (knee), but may get TE Austin Seferian-Jenkins (shoulder) back for the first time since Week 2. The key for the Giants is fixing the litany of coverage breakdowns that led to Saints receivers routinely running uncovered downfield.

*Matchup to watch – Giants C Weston Richburg & LG Justin Pugh vs. Bucs DT Akeem Spence: Tampa Bay lost Clinton McDonald, one of the league’s better run-stuffing interior players, to a season-ending pectoral injury. Spence is in his third season and will starter in McDonald’s place, with Henry Melton and Tony McDaniel also factoring into the rotation. The versatile Richburg has settled in at center, while Pugh has made the transition from right tackle.

*Player spotlight – Giants DE Jason Pierre-Paul: The medical staff and JPP are working hard to get him on the field to boost the league’s worst pass rush (nine sacks). He has an outside chance of playing after returning to the team last week as he rehabs from a Fourth of July fireworks accident that mangled one of his hands.

*Fast facts: Manning is 4-0 career against the Bucs with eight touchdowns, three interceptions and a 95.1 passer rating. … Martin seeks his third consecutive home game with 100-plus rushing yards and a touchdown.

WHO WILL WIN AND WHY

The Giants’ lack of a pass rush and secondary breakdowns will keep most any team in the game – especially on the road. Jameis Winston and the Bucs hang around until Giants QB Eli Manning’s experience wins out with a late-game drive.

*Our pick: Giants 27-23.


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