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JPP Returns as Giants Visit Winston, Bucs

For the first time in 11 months, Jason Pierre-Paul will take the field for the Giants.

Finally recovered from his infamous hand injury he sustained during a fireworks accident on the Fourth of July, Pierre-Paul was activated by the Giants yesterday, and is expected to start today when the Giants take on Jameis Winston and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Pierre-Paul’s return is certainly a welcome addition for a struggling Giants pass rush, which has generated the fewest sacks in the NFL.

The unit consisting of Cullen Jenkins, Robert Ayers, Damontre Moore, George Selvie and Kerry Wynn has failed to generate pressure on opposing passers, so the Giants will hope Pierre-Paul can inject some energy into their sluggish defensive line.

The Bucs have allowed 14 sacks this season, tied for 13th in the NFL. Winston’s ability to run makes him tough to bring down, so Pierre-Paul faces a bit of a challenge in his debut.

Pierre-Paul will play with a specially designed glove after losing a finger over the summer, but the hope is the lost finger won’t affect his pass rushing ability.

Injury Report

While JPP will return from injury, several other Giants stars aren’t as healthy.

CB Prince Amukamara continues to work his way back from a pectoral injury, and will miss Sunday’s game.

WR Victor Cruz (calf) is getting closer to a return, as he was able to run this week, but his 2015 debut will have to wait, as he has been ruled out against the Bucs.

TE Larry Donnell will also miss Sunday’s game as he deals with a neck injury.

The Giants will be short-handed at the linebacker position. OLB J.T. Thomas is out with an ankle injury, but the biggest blow is the loss of ILB Jon Beason.

Beason, one of the Giants’ most impactful defenders when he’s on the field, won’t see the field for the Giants again this season. He was placed on IR yesterday with a knee injury, ending his season.

WR Rueben Randle (hamstring), CB Leon McFadden (groin) and LB Uani Unga (neck) are all questionable.

RB Orleans Darkwa (back), G Geoff Schwartz (ankle) and S Craig Dahl (neck) are probable, and should be good to go when the Giants kick off at 4:00pm.

Keys to Victory

QB Eli Manning will need to build off the momentum he created last week when he had a career day against the Saints. He will need to do so without Cruz or Donnell, but Manning has done a great job spreading the ball to the trio of Odell Beckham, Randle and Dwayne Harris.

He’ll face more resistance against Tampa than he did versus the Saints. New Orleans’ secondary ranks 29th in the NFL, while the Bucs are closer to the middle of the pack at 15th, allowing 245 yards per game.

Still, Manning has a good chance at replicating that success. His offensive line has surprisingly done a good enough job to keep him upright and give him time to read a play. The electric play from Beckham as well as the unexpected consistency from Randle and Harris has also helped.

Defensively, the Giants will have to get better production from their pass defense. Rookie QB Jameis Winston has shown brief flashes of greatness, but so far his first NFL season has had lukewarm results.

Through seven games, Winston has completed 58.6% of his passes for 1,648 yards, averaging 7.8 YPA. He has thrown just ten touchdowns to go along with seven picks.

The Giants secondary has been a cure for any ailing quarterback this year, and is coming off its worst game of the season after allowing 500+ yards and seven touchdowns to Drew Brees in last week’s loss.

Not having Amukamara and two of the starting linebackers makes things even tougher for the G-Men, who will have to defend the dynamic receiving duo of Mike Evans and Vincent Jackson.

The Verdict

It will be interesting to see how the Giants rebound from last week’s nightmare finish, but there’s no doubt this is a winnable game for Big Blue. Team leaders Eli Manning and Tom Coughlin need to get the team ready for this game, as a win keeps them in first place in the underwhelming NFC East. I’m expecting Beckham to have a big game today, and the Giants to dispatch the Bucs without much trouble.

Giants 31, Buccaneers 17

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