- Tampa Bay has the No. 1 defense in the league by Football-Outsiders’ DVOA, and the No. 6 offense. The Giants rank No. 19 on defense and No. 30 on offense.
We’ve reached the part of the season where we have a pretty good idea of who teams are. The Giants are a team that has struggled in several areas — after starting 0-4, they’ve played three consecutive close contests with divisional opponents, which sounds OK until you remember how bad the NFC East is. Three competitive games against the worst division in football is not a great sign.
The Buccaneers meanwhile have always been trending up. Tampa looked flat in Week 1, and lost in a Thursday night road game at Chicago in Week 5. It’s not hard to forgive poor play on a short week when they’ve otherwise only looked like one of the best teams in the league. Their defense is one of the best in the league, their offense has gelled despite injuries, and four of their five wins have come by 14 or more points, including dominant 28- and 25-point wins over the Packers and Raiders the past two weeks.
And now the Bucs head to New York to take on a Giants team that will be without starting guard Will Hernandez, who tested positive for COVID-19. Hernandez’s positive test meant five other offensive linemen missed practice time this week due to close contact. The Giants reportedly used depth tight ends and defensive linemen to fill in offensive line reps at Thursday’s practice.
Those linemen have since tested negative and all are expected to be available Monday night, but any continuity issues are a major problem for a unit that has already had their struggles and will face one of the league’s best defensive fronts. Expect the Bucs’ defensive line to dominate the Giants’ offensive line and make it difficult on New York to establish offensive production all game long.
On the other side of the ball, the Giants should also have their hands full. About the only thing New York does reasonably well is defend the run, but they don’t generate a particularly strong pass rush and their secondary is exploitable. Though Chris Godwin is out and Antonio Brown is not yet active for Tampa Bay, expect the Buccaneers to find success attacking New York through the air, particularly early in the game.
I like Tampa Bay to win this game easily, but so does the market. It’s tough to take a road favorite of almost two touchdowns, particularly because one of Tampa’s few weaknesses is a tendency to get predictable running the ball up the middle on 1st-and-10, something that plays into New York’s one relative strength and might make it tough for the Bucs to keep putting up points after they’ve built a strong lead. Back in Week 1, the Giants stayed close enough to the Steelers that a late touchdown with under two minutes left gave them a 26-16 loss, and a similar result is on the table here if the Bucs let up at all.
So I’m on the under. There isn’t significant wind in the forecast, but there is some, and this feels like a game where the Bucs build a comfortable lead then win by running the clock and dominating on defense.
NFL Expert Picks
Under 45 @ -110
NFL Free Picks
Week 8 is here and we've got some great games in store, including the exclamation point on the week witha Tampa Bay Buccaneers vs. New York Giants matchup in New Jersey.
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