1. BACK TO THE DRAWING BOARD FOR GIANTS D
In the third-highest scoring game in NFL history, the Giants allowed 608 yards and 35 first downs last week as they fell 52-49 to the Saints. Quarterback Drew Brees threw for 505 yards and became the eighth player ever to record seven passing touchdowns in a single game. The Giants' defense sits last in yards (427.5 yards allowed per game) and 24th in points (26.0) in the league.
The team will await the statuses of starting cornerback Prince Amukamara, who has missed the last three games with a pectoral injury, and middle linebacker and defensive captain Jon Beason, who missed last week because of an ankle injury.
Nonetheless, the Giants (4-4) still stand atop the NFC East and take their lead on the road again this week as they prepare to face the Buccaneers (3-4), who just handed the Falcons their second loss of the season. "You go back to the drawing board," veteran safety Brandon Meriweather said. "You have to go back to the basics. I think what we did [last Sunday], we got away from the basics, the things that we do good, and you just have to go back to that and continue to build on that."
2. SURGING OFFENSE
The Saints' defensive numbers also swelled in Week 8, thanks to Eli Manning's career-high six touchdown passes, three of which went to Odell Beckham Jr. and two to Dwayne Harris. In the previous two games, the Giants' offense found the end zone just twice while Beckham and Rueben Randle dealt with hamstring issues. Both receivers practiced fully heading into the Saints game.
"I thought we had a good game plan [against New Orleans], good week of practice, and also having our receivers practice," Manning said. "Two weeks prior to that, Rueben and Odell did not practice all week, so it makes it tough. The other guys, the other receivers are running a lot of reps, they're also maybe running positions that they're not actually in in the game. They might doing other spots and moving all around. Come game time, they're back to their original spot, which maybe they hadn't been working at as much all week."
3. JPP TO INCREASE WORKLOAD; WILL HE PLAY?
Two-time Pro Bowl defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul returned to the Giants last week and practiced with the team for the first time since suffering serious hand injuries in a July 4 fireworks accident. Coach Tom Coughlin said Monday that the staff will "push the envelope a little bit" this week to test Pierre-Paul's conditioning level. Coughlin also didn't rule anything out about Pierre-Paul, who is eighth on the Giants' career sacks list, playing this Sunday in Tampa.
"Everybody words it a little bit differently," Coughlin said. "But, again, if he practices and continues to advance in the way that he has over the last few days that he's been with us, if we feel good where he is physically after he goes through this, then that would be a decision that we would be confident in making."
4. FAMOUS JAMEIS
Two former No. 1 overall draft picks will go head-to-head on Sunday at Raymond James Stadium. Manning, the top selection in 2004 out of Ole Miss, goes up against Jameis Winston, the No. 1 pick this past April. In seven starts, the Florida State product and former Heisman Trophy winner has completed 58.6 percent of his passes for 1,648 yards, 10 touchdowns and seven interceptions. He also has 24 carries for 91 yards and two more scores. Winston has not turned the ball over since a four-interception performance in Week 4, throwing four touchdowns with a 65.3 completion percentage in that span as his team won two of its last three games.
5. TALE OF THE TAPE
On offense, Tampa Bay is currently 11th in total yards (353.3 yards per game), fourth in rushing (131.1), 23rd in passing (222.0) and 16th in points (23.3). Running back Doug Martin is fourth in the NFL with 612 rushing yards and tied for second with seven carries of 20 yards or more. Wide receiver Mike Evans, the seventh overall pick in the 2014 NFL Draft, leads the team with 24 receptions for 386 yards and a touchdown.
On defense, the Buccaneers are 15th in total yards (352.1 yards allowed per game), 14th against the pass (244.6), 16th against the run (107.6) and 28th in points allowed (28.4). Tampa Bay is 16th in the league with 17 sacks and tied for 13th with a plus-two turnover differential.
On special teams, Tampa Bay is second in kickoff returns (28.2 yards per attempt) and fourth in punt returns (12.1). Jacob Schum nets 39.3 yards per punt, and Connor Barth has made all nine of his field goal attempts since he signed with the team on Oct. 6. That includes making a 31-yarder in overtime last week to lift Tampa Bay over Atlanta.
Playmakers on the Buccaneers first-team offense, defense, and special teams, presented by Nike