NFL Monday Night Football: Buccaneers/Giants Preview

by Alec McMordie

Two teams moving in the opposite direction will challenge bettors in the Monday Night Football game on ESPN.

Tampa Bay has won five of their last six games after their opening week loss at home to New Orleans. They play their third game on the road in four games after last week’s victory in Las Vegas over the Raiders by a 45-20 score as a 3.5-point favorite.

Tom Brady completed 33 of 45 passes in that game for 369 yards with four touchdown passes and without an interception. The ageless wonder is completing 65.7% of his passes in his year operating head coach Bruce Arians’ offense. He has thrown for 1910 yards with 18 touchdown passes, which began the week as the second-most in the NFL.

While Brady gets most of the attention for this team, the Buccaneers defense may be the best in the league. Tampa Bay is allowing 20.3 points per game, along with only 271.7 yards per game. They are holding opponents to just 4.8 yards-per-play, which is the stingiest mark in the NFL. The Buccaneers also lead the league in points differential, total yards differential, and with their net sack differential of +17. The Bucs have held five of their six opponents to 20 points or less.

New York will be playing their second straight game on national television in prime-time after they lost at Philadelphia in last week’s Thursday night game by a 22-21 score. The Giants’ leading rusher in that game for the fourth time this season was quarterback Daniel Jones who gained 92 yards on four carries.

This franchise did not draft Jones in the first round two years ago for him to be their leading rusher. The season-ending injury to running back Saquon Barkley threw a monkey wrench into the vision of what this offense could be under rookie head coach Joe Judge. The Giants signed free agent Devonta Freeman off the street after that injury, but he seems to have lost a step from his time in Atlanta and is now dealing with an ankle injury that has him questionable for this game.

Jones is completing 61.9% of his passes for 1410 yards, yet he has only five touchdown passes and has thrown seven picks. He leads an offense that is scoring only 17.4 points-per-game while averaging 282.4 yards-per-game. New York is just 1-5 on the season yet remains only 1 1/2 games out of first place in the NFC East.

New York has six players on their Injured Reserve, including linebacker Lorenzo Carter and rookie safety Xavier McKinney from Alabama. Guard Will Hernandez tested positive for COVID earlier in the week, which forced the Giants to put all but four offensive linemen into quarantine. They have not had an additional positive COVID test since then as of Sunday, so he may the only starting lineman they are without for this game.

Tampa Bay will be without wide receiver Chris Godwin who is out with a finger injury. The Bucs signed wide receiver Antonio Brown to add depth with a potentially huge upside this week, but he has yet to be cleared by the league to play. Tight end O.J. Howard is out the season with an Achilles’ injury, and defensive tackle Vita Vea is on Injured Reserve with his ankle.

This game will be the first appearance for the Buccaneers on Monday Night Football since 2018. These two teams played last year with Jones outdueling Jameis Winston on September 22nd for a 32-31 victory for the visiting Giants, who were a 5-point underdog.

BookMaker lists Tampa Bay as a 13-point favorite with the total set at 45. The kickoff is shortly after 8:15 PM ET.

All photographic images used for editorial content have been licensed from the Associated Press.

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