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NFL expert Ben Gretch is back previewing and predicting Week 11's Monday Night Football matchup between the Tampa Bay Buccaneers vs. New York Giants.

Monday Night Football Week 11 Preview and Prediction: Tampa Bay Buccaneers vs. New York Giants

The Giants head to Tampa for a matchup with the defending Super Bowl champions, and on paper, these teams are pretty obviously not in the same league. Both teams have had their skill position depth tested all year, but the Giants hope to have Saquon Barkley back in this one, while the Buccaneers hope Rob Gronkowski can go. That won't bring either team to 100 percent on the offensive side, as Antonio Brown and Sterling Shepard are both still out. Each team is also without a key defender, as run-stuffing interior defender Vita Vea is doubtful for Tampa. The Giants will be without safety Logan Ryan, who is on the Reserve/COVID-19 list.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers vs. New York Giants Start Time, Where to Watch, and Odds

Date: Monday, November 22, 2021

Game Time: 8:15 pm ET

Where to Watch: ESPN/ESPN2 With Manning Brothers

  • Key Stat: In three games before their Week 10 bye, the Giants held the Panthers, Chiefs, and Raiders to a combined 39 points (13 per game).

Click Here for Buccaneers vs Giants MNF Odds

Tampa Bay Buccaneers vs. New York Giants Preview

Before their Week 10 bye, New York started to get some things together defensively, at least against the pass. They dominated the Panthers in Week 7, then backed that up with a three-point loss to the Chiefs, where they held Patrick Mahomes to just 275 passing yards on 48 attempts. Then they also held Derek Carr and the Raiders' solid passing attack to 296 yards on 46 attempts in Week 9, a good chunk of which came in hurry-up mode late as the Giants led for the majority of the second half.

Those middling yards per attempt figures for solid downfield passers are important notes in the context of what Washington did to Tom Brady and the Buccaneers last week. Brady eventually got through to hit Mike Evans for a 40-yard touchdown in the fourth quarter, but he finished with just 220 yards on 34 pass attempts. One big thing Washington did successfully controlled the ball, and the Bucs wound up running just 47 offensive plays, 11 fewer than their next lowest figure this season. But while the limited chances helped, Washington did do a good job of taking away Brady's ability to push the ball down the field. Leonard Fournette led the Bucs with nine targets and eight receptions as Brady posted a season-low 6.1-yard average depth of throw. 

Over the past month-plus, we've seen some seemingly underskilled defenses shut down some impressive offenses by dropping two deep safeties and forcing these offenses to matriculate the ball down the field, hoping that high-leverage third downs will swing their way. Since the start of Week 7, the Giants have been run on at will, and their success rate against the run is 31st in the NFL in that span, but they've been 12th in success rate against the pass. So it would seem likely they'll take a similar approach Monday night to try to slow down Brady and the Bucs' offense.

The counterpunch for Tampa would be establishing a bit of a ground game, and Fournette has been their lead back this year. Fournette has been a useful piece all season for Tampa, but at this stage, he's not much of a difference-maker as a runner. This is the kind of game where we might have seen Ronald Jones unleashed last year, but Jones is firmly in the doghouse this season, and he played just one snap last week. So if the Giants do sit back and force the Bucs to play underneath, there's a real question of whether Tampa will take what's given to them or continue to try to throw as they more or less did last week.

The Bucs have had their struggles defensively, particularly against the pass, though they've been much better over the past month. But if Vea's absence impacts their run defense, we might see the Giants try to establish the run on their side of the ball, too, to slow the game down as Washington did. In the Giants' win over the Raiders in their last game before the bye, they threw just 20 passes against 31 rush attempts, so we know they are willing to take the air out of the ball if their defense is at all successful in slowing Brady and the Tampa offense down.

I'm not really buying the Giants' recent run of promising outcomes as indicative of a dramatically improved team, and I do like the Bucs to win this one, as the big spread indicates. But the question is for a Bucs' team that plays fast, likes to throw, and can score in bunches, whether the Giants will make it a point to take away the big play and force them to work the ball down the field. Bucs' games have featured plenty of scoring all season, and even if they do run the ball more here, this bet could feel wrong in a hurry. But I'm taking the under here, as this one feels like a comfortable win for the Bucs in the 27-17 range, where the Giants play like not getting blown out in primetime is a win for them, too.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers vs. New York Giants Pick

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Ben knows his football. A fantasy football expert who was most recently seen at CBS Sports, he'll be helping bettors find value ahead in the NFL with OddsChecker.


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