New York Giants vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Matchups, prediction for Monday Night Football

New York Giants vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers looks more interesting than it did two weeks ago. Can the Bucs get back on track Monday night?

The New York Giants vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers game doesn’t feel like a potentially close matchup based solely on reputation. However, this NFL season hasn’t awarded us with any consistency, and that includes the reigning Super Bowl champions. They’ve dropped two games in a row, whereas the Giants lost to the Chiefs by 3 points before beating the Raiders in Week 9. Could New York continue its run of surprisingly competitive play in Week 11?

New York Giants offense vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers defense

The Giants offense was always bound for mediocrity. Unfortunately, we don’t really know what Daniel Jones can be because his offensive coordinator the past two seasons (Jason Garrett) shouldn’t be in charge of an offense in the year 2021.

The Giants rank low in expected points added (EPA) and success rate both on the ground and through the air. They’re 26th in offensive DVOA, Football Outsiders’ efficiency metric. Additionally, they rank 25th in explosive run rate and are dead last in explosive pass rate. They’re offensively inept, and given the weapons they possess, that’s inexcusable.

On the other side, Tampa Bay has maintained its dominance defending the run. They rank sixth or better in EPA, success rate, and DVOA against the run. They’ve become average defending the pass, which is easy to figure out. They currently have FIVE defensive backs on injured reserve, including Sean Murphy-Bunting and Carlton Davis.

Daniel Jones vs. Buccaneers defense

The Buccaneers possess a ball-hawking safety in Antoine Winfield Jr. and a second solid back-end defender in Jordan Whitehead. Tampa Bay is tied for seventh in turnovers produced with 15.

Before this year, I would have said this game feels primed for a few big turnovers, but Jones has had 1 less than Tom Brady this season. He’s only lost 3 fumbles in nine games, and he’s limited interceptions.

I believe Jones is playing some of the best football of his career, but I don’t think he will fare well against the Buccaneers because of their defensive construction. I also don’t think the best football of his career is particularly good, unfortunately.

Advantage: Buccaneers

Giants skill position players vs. Buccaneers secondary

Unfortunately, the Giants’ most productive receiver this year has been Sterling Shepard. That’s “unfortunate” because he can’t stay on the field. He’s battled endless injuries throughout his career, and this year has been no exception.

New York still has Kenny Golladay, Darius Slayton, and Kadarius Toney. We all know Evan Engram can make big plays at the TE spot, but he also allows passes to slip through his fingers.

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But the most ill-fated injury is to Saquon Barkley, whose body hasn’t seemed to cooperate since his rookie season. In a league that features the top 1% of the top 1%, one of the game’s best athletes missing most of his time on the field is a depressing reality of this gladiatorial sport.

We’ve already discussed some of the names in the Buccaneers secondary. If another cornerback gets injured, they might have to hold an open tryout on the sidelines for fans to throw their hat in the ring.

Advantage: Giants

Giants offensive line vs. Buccaneers defensive front

This one won’t take long. Giants general manager Dave Gettleman and company haven’t built a whiff of an offensive line in their time molding this roster. It’s been one lousy evaluation after another, both in the draft and free agency.

Even though Vita Vea may not play in this game, Tampa Bay has plenty of bodies upfront to defend the run. Sitting behind those front-line defenders is the crown jewel of the Tampa Bay defense — their two excellent linebackers.

Lavonte David has been one of the best and most underrated linebackers in the league since before I joined the Army in November 2012. I’ve lived a lifetime in those nine years, while he’s constantly flown under the radar, even in the shadow of the new toy the Buccaneers drafted in 2019. Devin White may be an All-Pro someday, but he’s not there yet. He does, however, bring the juice as a pass rusher, and his athleticism for the position is ideal.

Tampa Bay should have a field day with the Giants’ offensive line.

Advantage: Buccaneers

Tampa Bay Buccaneers offense vs. New York Giants defense

The Bucs offense might not be the best in the NFL, but if it isn’t, it’s not by much. They rank first in EPA/play and are second in success rate. DVOA has them at the top and by a pretty comfortable margin.

Meanwhile, like their offense, the Giants’ defense has been subpar in 2021, despite the excitement surrounding the Patrick Graham-led group. They rank 20th or lower in most efficiency metrics but get a bit of a boost in passing EPA (16th) because of their 9 INTs.

Over the past few weeks, the Giants have improved defending the pass, but they’re still inept defending the run. This, again, is a pathetic development given how many assets Gettleman has spent on the defensive front.

What I’m saying is, it might be far past time to make some staffing changes in New York.

Tom Brady vs. Giants defense

I learned a long time ago not to bet against Brady. That belief continues into his age-44 season. Even though he’s recently felt the pain of a few turnovers, he’s still the same quarterback that made him the best ever to do it.

In fact, before his two down games, one could have argued he should be the MVP frontrunner. If he can torch a talented but underachieving Giants secondary on Monday Night Football, he’ll get his name back in the conversation.

Advantage: Buccaneers

Buccaneers skill position players vs. Giants secondary

This is the best matchup of the game. James Bradberry, Adoree’ Jackson, and Xavier McKinney highlight the Giants’ back end. They’ve begun playing better over the past few weeks, and they get a bit of a reprieve not having to face Antonio Brown in Week 11.

However, the Bucs still have Mike Evans, Chris Godwin, and may possibly welcome back Rob Gronkowski this week. Gronk was scoring touchdowns at will early in the season, and he adds an element to this offense that is similar to George Kittle in San Francisco.

Advantage: Buccaneers

Buccaneers offensive line vs. Giants defensive front

I miss seeing Dalvin Tomlinson on the field alongside Dexter Lawrence and Leonard Williams, but Austin Johnson has played admirably in 2021. The issue isn’t New York’s big bodies. The problem has become their linebackers.

Reggie Ragland and Tae Crowder fight for one of the top spots among the worst linebacker duos in the league. They’ve destroyed any hope the Giants have of consistently stopping the run.

Meanwhile, the Bucs have arguably the best offensive line in the NFL. Tristan Wirfs is a star, Ali Marpet is one of the best guards in football, and there’s not a single weak spot on the front five.

Advantage: Buccaneers

Betting line and game prediction

The 11-point spread favoring the Buccaneers may seem like a lot because of how these teams have trended recently, but this feels like a “get right” game for Tampa Bay. They’re built well up and down the roster, and their strengths mitigate the Giants’ strengths.

If Brady and the offense can avoid careless turnovers, they should march down the field against the New York defense with relative ease.

Giants vs. Buccaneers Prediction: Buccaneers 31, Giants 20

Dalton Miller is the Lead NFL Analyst at Pro Football Network. You can read more of his work here and follow him @daltonbmiller on Twitter and Twitch