After the NFC East embarrassed itself on Sunday Night Football, we all get to watch another team from that division give it a try on Monday night. The New York Giants have traditionally played some pretty interesting games against Tom Brady-led football squads, but those were different Giants teams and Brady was, of course, with a different organization. 

Brady’s with the Buccaneers now, and they bring a 5-2 record to MetLife Stadium, where they’ll take on the 1-6 G-Men. The Bucs have one of the league’s best defenses and an offense that is coming together very quickly. The Giants have neither of those things. With that in mind, let’s break down the matchup. 

How to watch

Date: Monday, Nov. 2 | Time: 8:15 p.m. ET
Location: MetLife Stadium (East Rutherford, N.J.)
TV: ESPN | Stream: fuboTV (try for free)
Follow: CBS Sports App

When the Buccaneers have the ball

Another week, another game where the Buccaneers will be operating at less than full strength. Wide receiver Chris Godwin had surgery to repair a fractured finger last week, and will be out for this game. In his absence, Scotty Miller and Tyler Johnson will presumably pick up the snaps behind Mike Evans, with Justin Watson and possibly Jaydon Mickens working in as well. 

The highlight matchup figures to be between Evans and star Giants cornerback James Bradberry, who would probably be a First Team All-Pro if the season ended today. Evans has not done much of anything in the games where Godwin has been active, but he’s been more involved in the games Godwin’s sat. With the other receivers not being nearly as threatening as a guy who has had at least 1,000 yards in every season of his career, it’d make sense for the Giants to use their best defender to try to shut him down. 

Bradberry, signed away from the Panthers on a monster free-agent contract, has allowed only 24 of 41 passes thrown in his direction to be completed, for 256 yards, two touchdowns, three interceptions, and a 62.7 passer rating. Among corners who have been targeted at least 25 times this year, only four have allowed a lower rating. Bradberry has good size as well as plenty of experience defending Evans, which he used to do twice a year when he was with Carolina. 

Of course, Tom Brady presumably knows all about that matchup, and will feel free to pick on the Giants’ more vulnerable defenders with his other targets. Miller should have a plus matchup in the slot, while Rob Gronkowski, Ronald Jones, and Leonard Fournette should have advantages against the Giants’ linebackers, who are better in run defense than they are against the pass. Gronkowski has really come on in recent weeks, with 20 catches, 269 yards, and two scores over the last five after catching just one pass in Weeks 1 and 2. Fournette is now operating as the team’s passing-down back, and looked very good snagging six balls out of the backfield last week. 

As always, a key for the Bucs is keeping Brady well-protected, which they have largely been able to do so far this season. The Giants don’t present many problems off the edge, but the interior defensive line trio of Leonard Williams, Dalvin Tomlinson, and Dexter Lawrence has played very well this year. The Bucs have been solid across the line in pass protection, but center Ryan Jensen is likely the most vulnerable of their five linemen to getting beat with quick moves, so that could be an area where the Giants cause some problems. That said, Brady is so good at identifying which receivers will pop open quickly after the snap and then getting rid of the ball, that it shouldn’t be much of a problem for him.

When the Giants have the ball

New York’s offense limps into this matchup averaging an anemic 282.4 yards per game. That’s the second-worst mark in the league, ahead of only the Giants’ decrepit MetLife Stadium co-tenants, the Jets. The Giants’ 17.4 points per game average also ranks ahead of only the Jets. In offensive efficiency, as measured by Football Outsiders’ DVOA, the Giants are ahead of only the Jets and Broncos. In other words, they’re bad. 

And on Monday night, this New York offense faces what is likely its toughest test of the year. The Buccaneers have essentially turned every one of their opponents this season into the Giants, allowing only 291.3 yards per game. They’ve also yielded just 20.3 points per contest, and they rank first in defensive efficiency, sporting the league’s second-best unit against the run and the very best unit against the pass. 

The Bucs are generating an absolute ton of pressure, getting after opposing passers on 40.7 percent of dropbacks, per Pro Football Focus and Tru Media. (The league average is 34.3 percent.) Shaquil Barrett and Jason Pierre-Paul have combined for 54 pressures from the edge, William Gholston, Ndamukong Suh, and the now-injured Vita Vea have 49 from the inside. The Bucs’ perimeter cornerback duo (Carlton Davis and Jamel Dean) is absolutely balling, allowing a combined 40 of 75 (53.3 percent) passes to be completed for just 397 yards (5.3 per attempt), three touchdowns, four interceptions, and a 59.7 passer rating, per PFF. Sean Murphy-Bunting has been a bit more vulnerable in the slot, but it hasn’t much mattered. 

The Giants’ best receivers (Darius Slayton and Sterling Shepard) do the majority of their work on the outside, with Golden Tate soaking up the significant majority of slot snaps (83 percent of his routes have come inside, per PFF). The Giants seem almost incapable of putting their skill players in position to succeed even against vulnerable defenses, so it’s incredibly difficult to see them finding much in the way of success against arguably the best defense in the league. There’s not even an obvious gimme matchup like there was last week against the Eagles, who are ridiculously bad at covering tight ends. (Evan Engram managed only 46 yards on his nine targets last week anyway.) 

The Giants’ offensive line could have its struggles in this game as well, considering it will be without Will Hernandez and the rest of the line was briefly sent home earlier in the week due to Hernandez’s positive COVID test. Daniel Jones has been the most heavily-pressured quarterback in the league to begin with, seeing defenders in his face on 43.9 percent of his dropbacks, per PFF and Tru Media. Against this pass rush, and with this line, he could be in for a very long night. 

Making matters worse for the Giants is the absence of Devonta Freeman, on whom they have very quickly come to rely for a whole bunch of touches, for some reason. They’ll be down to only Wayne Gallman and Dion Lewis in the backfield, and it’s difficult to see that working out very well for them. 

Prediction: Buccaneers 27, Giants 13


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