MONDAY NIGHT FOOTBALL BABY!
Written By Jonathan Hinkle – Here we go, Bucs fans. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are, once again, facing a bad NFC East team with the chance to right the ship. The New York Football Giants are coming to town for Monday Night Football in front of what I’m sure will be a packed-out Raymond James Stadium. Much like last week’s game versus Washington, the Giants are an inferior team that shouldn’t pose much of a threat to the defending Super Bowl Champs. Instead, we’re left to wonder which Buccaneers team will show up for this game. Will it be the team that broke the Chiefs in the Super Bowl just 9 months ago? Or will it be the team that got beat by a no-name quarterback and one of the worst defenses in the NFL last week?
For now, let’s concentrate on the Giants. They are 3-6 with wins over the Saints, Panthers, and Raiders. All teams with .500 or better records. And three of their six losses were all within 6 points or less. So don’t think for one second that this team isn’t dangerous. They can be. The Bucs and Giants have played each other for the last four years with each team winning twice by a total of 8 points. In 2017, the Bucs won 25-23 in Tampa. In 2018, the Giants won 38-35 in New York. In 2019, the Giants won 32-31 in Daniel Jones’s first career start. And last year, the Bucs won 25-23 on the road. If the Bucs continue to play like they have been and the Giants show up ready to play, it could be another nail-biter. So let’s dive into this Giants team and see what Tampa Bay will be facing on Monday night.
The Giants have the 21st ranked offense in the league, averaging just 335 total yards and 20 points per game. This offense is loaded with playmakers. From Sterling Shepard to Kenny Golladay to Evan Engram to Kadarius Toney to Darius Slayton, they have the weapons to put up points in the passing game. On top of all that, it looks like they’re getting Saquon Barkley back this week as well. He’s been out since Week 5 with an ankle injury, but he’s been practicing all week, and he looks like a go for Monday night. They’re averaging 239 passing yards and 96 rushing yards per game, but this team is capable of more.
The Giants defense is ranked 25th in the league giving up 372 total yards and 24 points per game. They gave up 44 points to the Cowboys and 38 points to the Rams, so they are vulnerable against good offenses. They’re giving up 250 yards through the air and another 123 yards on the ground per game. Their leading tackler is free safety Logan Ryan, and their interception leader is strong safety Xavier McKinney, but they’re just half of the stud-filled secondary that includes cornerbacks James Bradberry and Adoree’ Jackson. They have two players leading the team in sacks in Leonard Williams and Azeez Ojulari, both with 5.5 sacks. This team can give up yards AND points, but then again, we thought the same thing about Washington last week.
WHO’S IN & WHO’S OUT
The Buccaneers could be getting back some key players for this primetime game. Rob Gronkowski is listed as “questionable“, but he’s been practicing all week, and he’s looked good. They could also get Sean Murphy-Bunting, although they would likely limit his snap count. It also looks like they could have Dee Delaney available as well after being out under concussion protocol. That’s a good thing since the Bucs just placed Richard Sherman on IR for his calf strain. The only active player officially “out” for this game is Antonio Brown. Vita Vea is listed as “doubtful” and probably won’t play. Scotty Miller still hasn’t been activated, so it looks as though he’ll be out another week even though he has been practicing. That leaves Mike Evans, Chris Godwin, Tyler Johnson, and Breshad Perriman as the top four receivers. Raheem Nunez-Roches is also listed as “questionable“, but he’ll likely play.
The Giants have been hit with the injury bug pretty hard too. Their best receiver Sterling Shepard and one of their best defensive backs Logan Ryan have been ruled “out” of this game. They will also be missing their starting strongside linebacker in Lorenzo Carter, who has been ruled “out“. They could have an interesting situation in the backfield as well. Saquon Barkley is listed as “questionable” and returning from a long period off, which could limit his snaps. However, their other running back Devontae Booker, is also listed as “questionable” with a hip injury. If he can’t go, they could be forced to use Barkley more than they’d like. Their other tight end Kaden Smith is also “questionable“.
The Giants aren’t as bad as their 3-6 record, and with Barkley back, they’re a different team. Daniel Jones has only thrown for 2,059 yards, 8 touchdowns, and 5 interceptions in 9 games this season. But with Saquon in the backfield, it could help loosen up defenses. Vita Vea won’t be there to plug up the middle, so other guys like Nunez-Roches will have to step up if the Bucs want to shut down the Giants rushing attack. Even with Shepard out, this team still has plenty of firepower, so the Bucs will need to play much better than they have in their last two games if they want a win on Monday night.
Even though these two teams have been playing each other closely over the last four years, I can’t see this game being tight. I’m still pissed about last week. I thought the Bucs were going to blow out Washington, and it didn’t happen. I’m hoping the Tampa Bay players are still pissed too. My head tells me that these Buccaneers are just not that good of a football team and to expect the worst. My gut is telling me they’re going to take care of business in a BIG way at home on primetime Monday Night Football. So my score prediction for this game is…
BUCS 41 GIANTS 16
After two crappy losses in a row, this Tampa Bay team needs a win. Badly. This Tampa Bay fan base needs a win even more. If you’re like me, you’ve started doubting this team’s ability to even make it out of the first round of the playoffs, let alone win another Super Bowl. We need some validation. We need to see that this team is still what they were 9 months ago when they destroyed the Kansas City Chiefs. We need this team to be what it was supposed to be this season. We need Tom Brady to play like the “GOAT” that he is. And we need the Bucs to get this season back on track by playing the way they are capable of playing. This team had high expectations this year. It’s time to start living up to them. It’s time for them to show up and show out, or they just need to shut up and pack it in.
So now that you know all you need to know about the Bucs matchup for this week, it’s time to say…