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10 Things To Watch For

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10 things to watch for against the Buccaneers

What you need to know about Giants vs. Buccaneers in Week 11:

1. The Bucs stop here. After the Giants went 1-7 in the first half of the season, wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. said coming out of the bye week that he expected his team to win out the rest of the way. Well, they are 1-0 in what coach Pat Shurmur termed the “eight-game season” and looking to make it 2-0 when the 3-6 Buccaneers come to MetLife Stadium on Sunday. Beckham was asked if anyone criticized him for believing the Giants can go undefeated the rest of the season.

“Everybody,” he said. “I think when I said it, I heard a lot of chuckles and all that stuff, but it’s only crazy until you do it. It’s just the way it is. We start with one now; we got seven left.”

2. Fitzmagic. Ryan Fitzpatrick will start at quarterback in his fourth different jersey against the Giants. Losing with the Bills (2011) and Texans (2014) and winning with the Jets (2015), he is 1-2 as a starter against Big Blue with five touchdowns to five interceptions. This will be Fitzpatrick’s seventh start of the season over former No. 1 overall pick and Heisman Trophy winner Jameis Winston, who initially opened the door for the backup when he was suspended for the first three games of the season for a violation of the NFL’s Personal Conduct Policy. Despite the quarterback and play-calling changes (coach Dirk Koetter took over in last week’s loss to Washington), the Buccaneers enter with the No. 1 offense in total yards (452.8) and passing yards (361.2) per game.

3. Marvelous Manning. Eli Manning provided his own late-game magic last week, rallying the Giants to a 27-23 victory over the 49ers. His third touchdown pass of the night went to wide receiver Sterling Shepard -- Beckham had the other two -- with 53 seconds remaining and proved to be the game-winner. Manning is 5-1 against the Buccaneers, including a wild-card win on the Giants’ road to Super Bowl XLII. In their last meeting at MetLife Stadium in 2012, he threw for a career-high 510 yards in a 41-34 victory. The performance came three yards shy of the franchise record held by Phil Simms, who threw for 513 yards against Cincinnati in 1985.

4. Brown bolsters O-line. The offensive line is coming off its best performance of the season, according to Shurmur, and did so in the first game with Jamon Brown at right guard in place of John Greco. Acquired off waivers from the Rams heading into the bye week, Brown was the ninth different offensive lineman to start for the Giants, who opened the season with left tackle Nate Solder, rookie right guard Will Hernandez, center Jon Halapio (injured reserve), right guard Patrick Omameh (released), and right tackle Ereck Flowers (released). Only Solder and Hernandez have started every game. Here is a look at the progression of lineup:

Table inside Article
Opp LT LG C RT RG
JAX Solder Hernandez Halapio Omameh Flowers
@DAL Solder Hernandez Halapio Omameh Flowers
@HOU Solder Hernandez Greco Omameh Wheeler
NO Solder Hernandez Greco Omameh Wheeler
@CAR Solder Hernandez Greco Omameh Wheeler
PHI Solder Hernandez Greco Omameh Wheeler
@ATL Solder Hernandez Pulley Greco Wheeler
WAS Solder Hernandez Pulley Greco Wheeler
@SF Solder Hernandez Pulley Brown Wheeler

5. JPP in the house. A month before the 2018 NFL Draft, the Giants sent defensive end and Super Bowl XLVI champion Jason Pierre-Paul to the Buccaneers in exchange for a third-round draft choice, which the Giants used to select B.J. Hill. Pierre-Paul, who is seventh on the Giants’ all-time sacks list, returns on Sunday for the first time in a different uniform.

“Honestly, I had this game checked off since I left there, so emotions running big,” Pierre-Paul said on a conference call with Giants reporters. “I’m coming, man. I’m bringing the house down.”

Pierre-Paul has eight sacks so far this season, putting him on pace for his highest total since recording 16.5 in the 2011 championship run. Manning was sacked 31 times in the first eight games but only once last week.

“JPP was a great teammate,” Manning said. “He’s having a great year. He’s getting a lot of sacks and making plays. I expect him to be fired up. Hopefully we’ve got a game plan for him, and make sure we try to control him.”

6. Bettcher’s two goals. Defensive coordinator James Bettcher challenged his group to two things this week: improve third down and generate pressure. This was in the wake of the Giants giving up eight conversions on 13 attempts while not recording a sack for the second consecutive game and third time this season. Tampa Bay’s offense is ranked fourth in the NFL on third down (47.6 percent) and has given up 26 sacks, slightly above the league average of 24.

7. Yards don’t equal points. Last week, the Buccaneers became the first team in NFL history to gain more than 500 yards on offense and score only three points. It doesn’t take much digging to find the reason. They went 0-for-5 in the red zone and turned the ball over four times, ballooning their league-high total to 25 turnovers. Tampa Bay also has the worst differential in the league at minus-19. The Giants are minus-2 after B.J. Goodson’s two-interception performance last week against the 49ers.

8. Feeling their pain. The Giants have their own struggles finding the end zone despite putting up yards this season, but they may have turned a corner. After entering last week 31st in the NFL in red zone efficiency (10 touchdowns in 25 trips inside the 20, a 40 percent success rate), the Giants scored 20 of their 27 points from the red zone against the 49ers – two touchdowns and two field goals in four trips. The one touchdown that did not come inside the 20 was right at the 20 on a Manning-to-Beckham-connection.

9. Barkley for 100. With exactly 100 scrimmage yards on Monday night, rookie running back Saquon Barkley joined Eric Dickerson as the only players since the merger with 100 scrimmage yards in eight of their first nine career games. In the only one he didn’t, he came six yards short in Atlanta. Barkley is currently third in the NFL with 1,116 yards from scrimmage, trailing only Todd Gurley and James Conner.

10. Tight end gauntlet. Coming out of the bye, the Giants face three of the league’s top five tight ends in receiving yards in consecutive weeks. After going against San Francisco’s George Kittle (nine receptions for 83 yards), they have O.J. Howard this week and then Zach Ertz in Philadelphia. Howard, the 19th overall pick in the 2017 NFL Draft, will be matched up frequently with two-time Pro Bowl safety and fellow Alabama product Landon Collins.

“One of the answers is Landon,” Bettcher said. “I love the matchup with him on great tight ends, I really do. That’s one thing he’s built to do. I think it’s not just on his plate, though. It’s on the other guys. If we’re bringing four and we’re playing coverage, we’ve got to win some one on ones. Each and every week, we’ve got to get a little bit better and at the end of the day, play fundamentally sound, play with better fundamentals, feet and eyes.”

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