It took them a few weeks, but the Tampa Bay Buccaneers are finally playing like a team that could seriously challenge for the Super Bowl. After handing Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers their first loss of the season in Week 6, the Buccaneers continued to fire on all cylinders in Week 7, dominating the Las Vegas Raiders, 45-10, to win their second straight and move up to 5-2 for the first time since 2010. Tom Brady turned in another brilliant performance, completing 33 of his 45 pass attempts for 369 yards and four touchdowns and no interceptions.
Tampa Bay soon has a chance to get back at the New Orleans Saints, the team that handed them their season-opening loss, in what should be another entertaining game. But before they face Drew Brees and their division rivals, Brady and the Buccaneers head to MetLife Stadium to take on the 1-6 New York Giants. The Giants had a chance to win their second straight game last week, but they suffered a stinging 22-21 loss to the Philadelphia Eagles. The Buccaneers are double-digit favorites heading into the game, but they will not be overlooking a Giants team that has been competitive in all but one of their losses.
The game is scheduled for Monday Night Football. The Giants are in the midst of a minor COVID-19 scare after Will Hernandez tested positive, but as of right now, it looks like the game should be able to go on.
Here are four bold predictions for when Brady and the Buccaneers play the Giants.
1. Tom Brady passes for three touchdowns with no interceptions
Brady’s struggles early in the season seem like a distant memory, and they seem more to be a product of a shortened offseason due to the COVID-19 pandemic and playing for a different team than his age. In Tampa Bay’s last five games, the 43-year-old quarterback averaged 290.8 passing yards with 15 passing touchdowns and no interceptions, good for a 111.1 passer rating. The six-time Super Bowl champion is fresh from being named the NFC Offensive Player of the Month for October, becoming the first Buccaneers player to receive the award.
No NFC quarterback threw more touchdown passes in the past month than Brady, and there’s no reason to think that he’ll slow down against a Giants defense that’s allowing an average of 251.3 passing yards through seven games, which ranks just 21st in the NFL. While wide receiver Chris Godwin will be out after suffering a broken finger against the Raiders and new acquisition Antonio Brown still has not practiced with the team, Brady has been targeting the Buccaneers’ other receivers like Scotty Miller, who had a team-leading 109 receiving yards against Las Vegas. The league’s greatest quarterback and the Tampa Bay offense are simply playing too well right now, something that is expected to continue against the Giants.
2. Mike Evans finds his groove and scores a touchdown
After finding the end zone at least once in each of Tampa Bay’s first five games, Evans did not score a touchdown in the team’s big wins in Week 6 against Green Bay and Week 7 against Las Vegas. Against the Packers, the 27-year-old had just one reception and 10 receiving yards, and he had just two receptions for 37 receiving yards against the Raiders. The three-time Pro Bowler recorded 41 receiving yards or less in five of these first seven games, with the only exceptions being his big games against the Carolina Panthers in Week 2 and Los Angeles Chargers in Week 4.
With Godwin out for at least another week and Brown still not practicing with his new team, Evans will likely be the recipient of more of Brady’s passes against the Giants. That could also mean that New York will focus more of its defense on Evans, as he is likely to be matched up against cornerback James Bradberry. With a much-anticipated game against the Saints coming up, a strong performance against the Giants could be just what Evans needs to get out of a funk. With a red-hot Brady looking for him, expect the wideout to find the end zone and do more as he steps up in Godwin’s absence.
3. Devin White sacks Daniel Jones and disrupts Giants
Aside from a red-hot offense, the Buccaneers’ defense has also been playing well as of late, ranking in the top 10 in the league in many defensive categories, including third in yards allowed per game (291.3) and first in rushing yards (66.0) allowed per game. One important part of that defense is second-year linebacker Devin White, who had 11 tackles, three sacks, three quarterback hits, and two tackles for loss against the Raiders last week.
The 22-year-old White is living up to his promise when he was taken by Tampa Bay with the fifth overall pick in the 2019 NFL Draft. Incidentally, the Giants selected quarterback Daniel Jones with the very next pick, the same man White will try to pressure and disrupt on Monday. The Giants allow 2.9 sacks per game, and White will likely get to Jones at some point in the game. Aside from recording a sack, the second-year linebacker should continue to be a force against the lowly Giants.
4. Buccaneers cruise to third straight win and move up to 6-2
With a big game against the Saints in their sights, there is concern that the Buccaneers could overlook the game against the Giants. Coach Bruce Arians, however, promised this will not happen and they are taking the game against New York seriously:
“Anybody in this league can beat you on Sunday if you don’t bring your A-Game – we’ll talk about it all week. We’re playing the Giants this week on a long week and then we have the Saints on a short week, so we better be focused on what we’ve got at hand.”
Arians said that aside from Brady, the Buccaneers’ other veterans are telling their younger teammates not to be complacent against the Giants. After a slow start to the season against the Saints in Week 1, Tampa Bay has rounded into form and now boasts one of the best teams on both offense and defense. If their last two games are any indication, expect Brady and the rest of the Buccaneers to continue to establish themselves as a contender and face New Orleans next week with three straight wins and a 6-2 record.