Moeller: Despite Fitzpatrick and Pierre-Paul, Giants Pass the Tampa Test

Yes, the Giants’ second –half surge reaches another level.

Earlier this season, I wrote the 1-7 Giants could finish with as many as six, seven, or eight wins over the final eight games.

Odell Beckham foresaw his team winning all eight games down the stretch for a 9-7 mark. If Beckham can predict as well as his recent play, it will be a happy holiday.

They showed plenty of fortitude plugging through against San Francisco Monday night and pulling out a 27-23 win with 53 seconds left.

It will continue with the Tampa Test Sunday at a chilly MetLife.

The 2-7 Giants face a 3-6 Tampa team that has endured a similar route this season to theirs, but the Bucs have one constant.

They have a consistent offense led by a familiar face.

Like he did with the Jets four years ago, Ryan Fitzpatrick has developed his team into the League top overall offense and top passing offense, as Fitz has thrown for 2,199 yards and 17 touchdowns with nine picks. Last week, he threw for 406 yards in a 16-3 loss to Washington.

That’s not good news for the Giants, who couldn’t produce a pass rush against free agent rookie Nick Mullens last week, who rattled them for 250 yards.

The Giants couldn’t contain tight end George Kittle, who found open spots all over the field for nine catches for 83 yards.

It was another tight end with a big game. Tampa tight end O.J. Howard has 29 catches with five TDs.

So, how do the Giants win?

Their defense has a workmanlike effort against San Francisco, but they will need to turn it up a notch against Fitzpatrick.

Linebackers B.J. Goodson and Lorenzo Carter need to keep pace with their recent steady play.

This has to be the game where their pass rush becomes a factor. The Bucs’ line has given up 26 sacks.

Offensively, Eli Manning showed what he can do with some time. Manning still has plenty of game left, and he made it look easy with his hook-ups with Odell Beckham Jr.

Jason Pierre-Paul and his eight sacks are back in town for some vengeance. Paul has made that clear.

Tampa will likely move Paul around to test both Nate Solder and Chad Wheeler. They both played well against San Francisco.

The Giants’ line has plenty of time to salvage this season. Just look how a revamped Indianapolis line has re-energized Andrew Luck and the surging Colts.

The Giants finally gave Saquon Barkley a 20-carry game even though it only produced 67 yards.

Expect Barkley to have another busy, brisk afternoon with some game-breakers in the process.

This quickly could evolve into an offensive shootout in which the Giants will need to corral Paul and the Tampa pass rush.

Still, look for a low-scoring affair with Manning or Barkley making the deciding play in the fourth quarter.

The G-Men then tie a bow on it with an interception.

Once again, the Giants are faced with a season-breaking game.

But they will pass the Tampa Test, and then have a very interesting game in Philadelphia.

The Eagles tangle with the hottest team in football in the Big Easy.

Call it the 3-7 Giants against the 4-6 Eagles next week. Do you still have faith in Washington or Dallas winning the division?

The Giants’ run moves forward. You do trust Beckham’s prediction, don’t you?

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About the Author

Jeff Moeller

Jeff Moeller has been covering the NFL, NBA, MLB, NHL and college football and basketball as well as high school sports on a national and local scene for the past 39 years. He has been a Jets and Giants beat reporter for the past 13 years.

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