After three straight games against opponents with winning records and serious playoff aspirations – and victories in two of them – the Tampa Bay Buccaneers draw the 1-6 New York Giants in Week Eight. The game will feature the national spotlight of Monday Night Football, but it comes just six days before the Buccaneers will play their rematch against the New Orleans Saints, which is likely to be one of the most significant games left on their schedule.
So will the Buccaneers be in danger of looking past this game and taking the Giants lightly? Not a chance.
Head Coach Bruce Arians made it clear on Monday that the Buccaneers have the leadership in their locker room, beginning with quarterback Tom Brady, to make sure that the entire team understands that the Giants are as dangerous an opponent as any team they've faced yet.
"I don't think there's any doubt," said Arians. "Not just Tom but Lavonte [David], [Ndamukong] Suh, JPP (Jason Pierre-Paul). Defensively, the leadership that we have over there – we know if we're not going to play our best, we're going to get beat. 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."
For their part, the Giants are sticking to the plan that first-year Head Coach Joe Judge has laid out and believe they are "fully on track," as Judge put it, in creating a new culture and a foundation for winning. The Giants did just trade edge rusher Markus Golden to Arizona, but they are only 1.5 games out of first place in the NFC East and they insist they are not sacrificing wins right now to secure future gains.
"We're still playing for wins," said Judge. "We're not asking the fans to go ahead and just be happy with mediocre results … Our players work hard every week to have tangible results. We understand there are things we have to do better to give ourselves the opportunities to finish all of the games we've been in."
Indeed, each of the Giants last three games have been decided by three points fewer, as was their Week Two loss to the 5-2 Chicago Bears. Sandwiched between a 37-34 loss to the Cowboys and a 22-21 loss to the Eagles was the team's first win, a 20-19 nail-biter against Washington. The Giants had a 21-10 lead in that Thursday night game in Philadelphia but couldn't hold off a furious Carson Wentz-led rally.
Offensively, the Giants have struggled, ranking 31st in both yards and points scored, and they get a tough challenge on Monday against a Buccaneers defense that proved itself against two of the NFL's most explosive offenses in Week Six and Seven matchups with the Packers and Raiders. However, young quarterback Daniel Jones has a good crew of pass-catchers around him in Darius Slayton, Evan Engram, Golden Tate and Sterling Shepard and he has had some prolific games in his young career.
The Giants' offense is loaded up front with athletic big men with the likes of Leonard Williams, Dalvin Tomlinson added a trio of veteran starters in 2020 in safety Logan Ryan, cornerback James Bradberry and inside linebacker Blake Martinez. Bradberry has excelled in his first season as a Giant after four in Carolina, leading the team with three interceptions.
The Buccaneers will be playing without Chris Godwin but have a red-hot quarterback in Brady, who in recent weeks has rekindled his productive connection with tight end Rob Gronkowski. The return of Leonard Fournette gives Tampa Bay's offense a very effective one-two punch in the backfield. Tampa Bay's defense recently added nose tackle Steve McLendon after losing Vita Vea for the season, and McLendon had a strong showing in his Buccaneer debut in Las Vegas. For the second year in a row, the Buccaneers are the hardest defense in the NFL to run against, and the young secondary has begun to make big plays on a weekly basis.
The Buccaneers will be seeking to match their best eight-game start ever, one that most recently led to a Super Bowl championships. The Giants will be trying to finish a game better and prove that Judge's rebuilding of the team's culture is indeed taking root.
GAME AND BROADCAST DETAILS
Tampa Bay Buccaneers (5-2) at New York Giants (1-6)
Monday, November 2, 8:15 p.m. ET
MetLife Stadium (capacity: 82,500…no fans will be in attendance)
East Rutherford, New Jersey
TV Broadcast Team: Steve Levy (play-by-play), Brian Griese (analyst), Louis Riddick (analyst), Lisa Salters (reporter)
Radio: 98Rock (WXTB, 97.9 FM), Flagship Station
Radio Broadcast Team: Gene Deckerhoff (play-by-play), Dave Moore (analyst), T.J. Rives (reporter)
ALL-TIME HEAD-TO-HEAD SERIES
The Buccaneers and Giants have become well acquainted in recent years, as they are about to meet for the fifth time in the last six seasons. That recent history would suggest that the two teams are in for a shootout on Monday, and possibly one that comes down to the wire.
Each of the last three games, have been decided by three points or less, including a 32-31 Giants victory in Tampa last season that turned on a missed 34-yard field goal by Matt Gay at the end of regulation. Those five Bucs-Giants games since 2015 have seen an average of 61.8 points scored combined per outing. The Buccaneers last won in 2017 when Jameis Winston threw for 332 yards and three touchdowns – one each to Mike Evans, O.J. Howard and Cam Brate – and Nick Folk kicked a 34-yard field goal to make it 25-23 as time expired.
Overall, New York leads the all-time series, 15-7, though they've only barely outscored the Bucs in those 21 games, 427-395. The matchup is historically a lot closer when the Giants have to make the trip down to Florida, as New York just took a 7-6 lead in those games last year. Strangely, even though they have never been division mates, the Bucs and Giants have thrice played a pair of games together in the same season – 1978, 1979 and 1984. The first one was a Giants sweep but the other two ended in splits. Tampa Bay's best run in the series unsurprisingly came during its Super Bowl era, as they beat the Giants three out of four times from 1997-2003. However, four years later it was the Giants who came to Raymond James Stadium for a 2007 Wild Card game and rudely ended the Bucs' last postseason trip before it could get started.
Tampa Bay's last trip to the Meadowlands, in 2018, resulted in a 38-35 shootout in which the Bucs rallied from a 17-point third-quarter deficit to pull within three points on a 41-yard touchdown pass from Winston to Evans. There was still 2:20 on the clock after that play but the Bucs had no timeouts left so they tried an onside kick and failed to recover. Winston didn't get the ball back into his hands until there were just 23 seconds left and a desperation deep ball in DeSean Jackson's direction was intercepted. The Bucs got their first taste of Saquon Barkley, who rank for 142 yards and two scores, but Peyton Barber countered with 106 and a score of his own and Winston had the hot hand after relieving Ryan Fitzpatrick, completing 12 of 16 passes for 199 yards and two touchdowns in a quarter and a half.
· Buccaneers outside linebacker Jason Pierre-Paul spent his first eight seasons with the Giants after they made him the 15th-overall pick in the 2010 draft. Pierre-Paul recorded 85.0 sacks as a Giant and helped the franchise win Super Bowl XLVI after the 2011 season. The Buccaneers acquired Pierre-Paul, who played his college football at nearby USF, in a 2018 offseason trade.
· New York Offensive Coordinator Jason Garrett, a former NFL quarterback, finished his playing career with the Giants and then, briefly, the Buccaneers. Garrett was with the Giants from 2000-03, though he last appeared in a game in 2000. He then signed with Tampa Bay during the 2004 offseason and went to training camp with the team before being released at the end of the preseason. He returned to the Bucs' roster briefly at midseason but did not get into a game. Garrett ended the 2004 campaign on the Miami Dolphins' roster.
· Amos Jones, who is the Giants' assistant coach-special projects and situations, was the Buccaneers' assistant special teams coach in 2019.
· Tampa Bay safety Andrew Adams played his first two NFL seasons with the Giants after being signed as an undrafted free agent out of Connecticut. Adams played in 30 games with 17 starts over the 2016-17 seasons in New York.
SENIOR COACHING STAFFS
· Tampa Bay:
· Head Coach Bruce Arians
· Assistant Head Coach/Run Game Coordinator Harold Goodwin
· Defensive Coordinator Todd Bowles
· Offensive Coordinator Byron Leftwich
· Special Teams Coordinator Keith Armstrong
· New York:
· Head Coach Joe Judge
· Offensive Coordinator Jason Garrett
· Assistant Head Coach/Defensive Coordinator Patrick Graham
· Assistant Head Coach/Special Teams Coordinator Thomas McGaughey
KEY 2020 ROSTER ADDITIONS
· QB Tom Brady (UFA)
· RB Leonard Fournette (FA)
· TE Rob Gronkowski (T-NE)
· T Joe Haeg (UFA)
· WR Tyler Johnson (5th-round draft pick)
· RB LeSean McCoy (FA)
· DT Steve McLendon (T-NYJ)
· C A.Q. Shipley (FA)
· K Ryan Succop (FA)
· RB Ke'Shawn Vaughn (3rd-round draft pick)
· S Antoine Winfield Jr. (2nd-round draft pick)
· T Tristan Wirfs(1st-round draft pick)
· CB James Bradberry (UFA)
· OLB Kyler Fackrell (UFA)
· T Cameron Fleming (UFA)
· RB Devonta Freeman (FA)
· K Graham Gano (FA)
· CB Darnay Holmes (4th-round draft pick)
· DT Austin Johnson (UFA)
· RB Dion Lewis (FA)
· ILB Blake Martinez (UFA)
· QB Colt McCoy (UFA)
· S Xavier McKinney (2nd-round draft pick – currently on injured reserve)
· T Matt Peart (3rd-round draft pick)
· CB Logan Ryan (FA)
· T Anthony Thomas (1st-round draft pick)
· TE Levine Toilolo (UFA)
ADDITIONAL 2020 CHANGES OF NOTE
· Though it is noted in the "Roster Additions" section above, it's worth further elaborating on the extremely dramatic change the Buccaneers made at the game's most important position. After five seasons, the team moved on from Jameis Winston, the first-overall pick in the 2015 draft, and filled the starting quarterback spot with the man many consider the G.O.A.T., former Patriot Tom Brady. Brady brings 20 years of experience and six Super Bowl championship rings to Tampa in one of the most notable free agent signings in NFL history. Brady's move to the Buccaneers also prompted former Patriots star tight end Rob Gronkowski to come out of retirement and he was promptly traded to Tampa Bay for a fourth-round draft pick.
· Tampa Bay debuted new uniforms in Week One in New Orleans. The uniforms are largely inspired by the ones the team wore during its Super Bowl era and overall from 1997 through 2013. Some elements of the uniforms introduced in 2014 remain, such as the sharper, more detailed skull-and-crossed-swords logo and the larger flag on the helmet (though not as large as before). The uniforms debuting in 2020 also include an all-pewter version that is completely unique in team and NFL history and was worn for the first time in Denver in Week Three.
· The Buccaneers have two new additions to their coaching staff in 2020: Defensive/Special Teams Assistant Keith Tandy and Assistant Strength & Conditioning Coach Cory Bichey. Tandy worked at the high school and college levels in 2019, the latter at his alma mater of West Virginia, but he begins his NFL coaching career with the same team that drafted him in 2012. Tandy spent six seasons in Tampa as a safety and special teams standout before finishing his playing career in Atlanta in 2018. Bichey comes to the Buccaneers from Mississippi State University, where he previously worked under current Buccaneers Head Strength & Conditioning Coach Anthony Piroli.
· The Buccaneers used their franchise tag during the 2020 offseason for the first time in eight years. That tag was employed to retain outside linebacker Shaq Barrett, who went from a rotational reserve in Denver to the NFL's 2019 sack leader after signing with the Bucs as an unrestricted free agent. Barrett's 19.5 sacks in his first year with the Buccaneers broke Warren Sapp's single-season franchise record and made him one of the team's top priorities in the offseason. Barrett and the Bucs were unable to reach agreement on a long-term deal during the 2020 offseason, in part due to the uncertainties caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, so Barrett will play on the tag's one-year contract this fall.
· The Buccaneers lost one of their key defensive players in Week Five when third-year defensive lineman Vita Vea suffered a broken leg and was placed on injured reserve, ending his season. Vea recorded 2.0 sacks through the first five games and was a key member of the team's league-leading run defense.
· The Giants hired a new head coach in 2020, dismissing Pat Shurmur and installing former New England Patriots special teams coordinator and wide receivers coach Joe Judge at the helm. Judge, who spent eight seasons with Bill Belichick's Patriots, is in his first season as a head coach at any level.
· Judge retained five assistant coaches from Shurmur's staff, including Special Teams Coordinator Thomas McGaughey, but otherwise brought in a new crew. That includes the other two coordinators, with Jason Garrett arriving to direct the offense and Patrick Graham coming aboard to lead the defense. Garrett spent most of the past decade as the Dallas Cowboys' head coach after taking over from Wade Phillips midway through the 2010 campaign. Graham was the Miami Dolphins' defensive coordinator in 2019 and shared four seasons with Judge on the Patriots' staff.
· The 2020 Giants expected to lean on third-year running back Saquon Barkley, the second-overall pick in the 2018 draft who had piled up 3,563 yards from scrimmage and 23 touchdowns in his first two seasons. However, Barkley was lost to a torn ACL early in New York's Week Two game against Chicago after recording just 94 yards on the season. The Giants subsequently signed former Falcon running back Devonta Freeman, though he too suffered an ankle injury in Week Seven and could be a question mark for the Monday night game. Quarterback Daniel Jones is the Giants' leading rusher with 296 yards, 80 of which came on one remarkable run against Philadelphia in Week Seven.
· The Giants have gotten younger as they've transitioned to a new coaching staff. New York was the 21st-youngest team in 2018 and the 18th-youngest squad in 2019 but opened this season with a roster that was the ninth-youngest in the league. That includes a new starter at left tackle as Anthony Thomas, the fourth-overall pick in the 2020 draft, takes over for Nate Solder, who opted out of the season.
QBs Young and Old – When the Buccaneers played the Chargers in Week Four the game featured the largest age difference between the two starting quarterbacks in a game since at least 1950. Tom Brady's Buccaneers won the game with a roaring comeback but rookie Justin Herbert had a very strong outing in the 38-31 shootout. Now Brady will oppose yet another quarterback two decades his junior when the Buccaneers play Daniel Jones and the Giants on Monday night. This one will have the added glitz of the prime-time national stage as well as the history of some unforgettable games between Brady and Jones' predecessor, Eli Manning. Brady comes into the game on a hot streak, having tossed 18 touchdowns and just one interception over his last five games, while Jones has had something of an up-and-down season so far, with a passer rating of 73.7 that is 14 points down from his rookie season. Brady and Jones actually have to battle the Giants' and Bucs' defenses, respectively, not each other, but there is no doubt that the performances of the seasoned and legendary veteran and the young and promising but still unproven 23-year-old will be compared throughout the evening.
Perfection on the Line – One of the most remarkable statistics the Buccaneers have generated during their 5-2 start to 2020 is…well 20/20. Brady and the Buccaneers have taken 20 drives inside the 10 and gained a first-and-goal through the first seven games. Amazingly, they have turned all of those goal-to-go opportunities into touchdowns, including five more last Sunday in Las Vegas. The Buccaneers and Titans are the only teams left in the NFL who have a 100% touchdown rate on goal-to-go drives, and Tampa Bay has had six more of them to complete than Tennessee has. The streak seems like one that is too tenuous to maintain for much longer – the Bucs had to convert on third down twice on Sunday to keep it alive – but it clearly speaks to how many red zone weapons the Bucs have and how efficient Brady's decision-making has been in that area. If Tampa Bay gets any goal-to-go opportunities on Monday night it won't be easy to keep that streak alive. The Giants' defense ranks near the middle of the pack in most categories but has been excellent near its own goal line. New York ranks third in the NFL in touchdown percentage allowed on goal-to-go drives, at 61.54%.
Pressure Points – The Buccaneers rank second in the NFL with 25 sacks, while the Giants are tied for eighth with 18. Tampa Bay's defense has racked up 51 quarterback hits; New York's defense has 48. Both have gotten the whole defense involved in the pass rush – the Bucs have sacks from nine different players, with three others adding QB hits; the Giants have 12 different players on the sack board and three others with QB hits. Tampa Bay's defense is led by the creative and aggressive Todd Bowles, who has dialed up a wide variety of rush combinations, sending five or more at the quarterback on 41.8% of opposing dropbacks this season. The Giants haven't blitzed as often under coordinator Patrick Graham but do present multiple looks that can be confusing. Said Tom Brady: "[New York] presents a lot of defensive looks, a lot of different fronts. Identification is very important. They rotate a lot of guys in defensively. There's a lot of different coverage schemes. They put a lot of pressure on the offense to communicate well to make pre-snap decisions, post-snap decisions." Tampa Bay's offensive line has set a new standard in recent weeks, allowing zero sacks of Brady in three of the last four contests. Jones, conversely, has absorbed 20 sacks this season, including three in the Thursday night loss to Philadelphia in Week Seven. Whichever line does a better job of handling those difficult pass-rush packages will greatly improve its team's chances of winning.
Missing Piece – With the exception of tight end O.J. Howard, whose very promising season ended in a Week Four Achilles tendon rupture, the Buccaneers finally got their full complement of offensive weapons together in Week Seven against Las Vegas. The result was 45 points and six touchdowns by six different players. Well, that didn't last long. One of those touchdowns was caught by wide receiver Chris Godwin, and he paid the price on that play with a fractured index finger that will definitely keep him out of the Monday night game. Godwin's presence has been easily felt in the past two weeks after he returned from missing three contests with a hamstring injury. He is the Buccaneers' most accomplished slot receiver and the best at picking up extra yards over the middle of the field. Godwin is also a very trusted target for Brady on third downs, as he's able to quickly find openings in zone coverage and is very sure-handed. Of course, the Buccaneers have already played those three games without Godwin, and won two of them, so they have found some ways to adjust. Rookie Tyler Johnson, who has seen his playing time steadily rise in recent weeks, could get some more action out of the slot as he has a similar skillset – if not yet as proven – as Godwin. Arians has also mentioned trying to get Evans some more routes of the slot to make it harder for defenses to double-cover him. Overall, the Buccaneers will probably try to get the ball to Evans more to make up for the absence of Godwin.
Half and Half – If the Buccaneers can win a third straight game they will hit the season's halfway point at 6-2, which would match their best record ever through the first eight games of a season. Tampa Bay was also 6-2 at the midway point in 1979 and 2002; that first season ended in the NFC Championship Game and the second one ended with the Bucs lifting the Lombardi Trophy. Getting that sixth win by midseason has been a tipping point for the franchise historically. In addition to 1979 and 2002, the Buccaneers also started out 5-2 in 1995, 1997, 2005, 2008 and 2010 but then lost in the eighth game to fall to 5-3. Only two of those five seasons ended in the playoffs. Football Outsiders' DVOA Playoff Odds Report, updated through Week Seven, gives the Buccaneers a 90.4% chance of making the playoffs, and that percentage would probably rise into the mid 90s if they win again in Week Eight. That midpoint record plus the addition of a seventh NFC playoff spot in 2020 and the fact that there are seven teams in the conference that still have two or fewer wins would make the Buccaneers look like a very prime contender with half a season to go.
1. Buccaneers WR Mike Evans vs. Giants CB James Bradberry
They meet again. Evans and Bradberry, who played his first four seasons with the Panthers before joining the Giants this year, have a mutually respectful rivalry that has spanned seven games beginning in 2016. Bradberry, who at 6-1 and 212 pounds is a better match for Evans' size than most NFL cornerbacks, had a reputation during those four years as one of the more successful defenders against the Bucs' star receiver, but the numbers show a pretty even battle with big days for both. Bradberry did get the best of Evans in 2018, allowing him just five catches for 64 yards in the two games combined, but Evans also had a 100-yard game against the panthers in 2017 and a nine-catch, 96-yard outing last October. While Evans did only score one touchdown in those seven games, he averaged approximately five catches for 65 yards across the rivalry. For his part, Bradberry snared three interceptions and had seven passes defensed in those seven contests. The Giants are likely to use Bradberry to shadow Evans on Monday night, particularly with the news that Chris Godwin will be unavailable due to a finger injury.
2. Giants T Andrew Thomas vs. Buccaneers OLB Jason Pierre-Paul
Giants Head Coach Joe Judge benched Thomas at the beginning of the team's Week Six game against Washington, but that was for being late to a meeting, not Thomas's performance. Still, the fourth-overall pick in the 2020 draft – and the first of a run of four blue-chip offensive tackles that ended with the Bucs' selection of Tristan Wirfs at number 13 – has gotten off to something of a rough start. Asked to step in immediately at left tackle, Thomas has struggled in several outings, and Pro Football Focus credited him with allowing 28 pressures, four sacks and three quarterback hits through the Giants' first three games. Of course, this is a difficult season for any rookie to transition directly to an NFL starting job, particularly one as difficult as left tackle, and Thomas still possesses the quick feet, athleticism and technical excellence that made him such a high draft pick. He'll be dealing with a former Giant who missed the Bucs' game against New York last season but definitely enjoyed his 2018 return to the Meadowlands. Pierre-Paul racked up seven tackles, 1.5 sacks and two QB hits in that first game against the team that traded him to Tampa earlier in that offseason. Pierre-Paul most often rushes the quarterback from the right side of the Bucs' defense, which pits him against the opponent's left tackle. The veteran defender, who has 85.0 career sacks, saw his sack streak end last week in Las Vegas but remains the team leader with 5.5 QB takedowns. Pierre-Paul also has seven QB hits and has matched his single-season career high with three forced fumbles. If Thomas can't slow down Pierre-Paul it could be a long afternoon for Daniel Jones.
3. Buccaneers RB Leonard Fournette vs. Giants LB Blake Martinez
Fournette returned to the lineup on Sunday in Las Vegas after missing all but one snap of the previous three games, and he made an immediate difference in the Buccaneers' offense. Though Ronald Jones got the start in the backfield as usual, the two backs had nearly identical carry totals (13 for Jones, 11 for Fournette) and Fournette got eight targets in the passing game to two for Jones. Overall, Fournette contributed 97 yards from scrimmage, and afterward Head Coach Bruce Arians revealed that the former Jaguar has now taken over as the team's "nickel" back, which means he'll be on the field for most third downs. On the season, Fournette is averaging 4.9 yards per carry and he's shown good hands in the passing game and the ability to get upfield quickly after the catch. Martinez is the Giants' top weapon against the run; in fact, his 73 tackles ranks second among all NFL players and 44 of those have come on running plays. Martinez is the quarterback of the Giants' defense, taking over that role from Alec Ogletree, who was released in the offseason. He played his first four seasons in Green Bay and for the last four years has been an absolute tackling machine, with 516 stops since the start of 2017, or more than nine per game. As a free agent, he was coveted for his tackling abilities but was seen by some as below average in coverage. That could be the part of this matchup that favors Fournette if the Bucs get him in man-to-man coverage with Martinez.
4. Giants WR Golden Tate vs. Buccaneers CB Sean Murphy-Bunting
Like most teams, the Giants run more plays out of three-receiver sets than any other personnel package, in their case about 58% of the time. The team recently got Sterling Shepard back from injured reserve and can now run out their desired three-receiver set of Shepard, Tate and Darius Slayton. In those instances, Tate will usually be in the slot, as he has taken 80% of his snaps from that location so far this season. That's nothing new for Tate, as he has taken at least 69% of his snaps out of the slot in every season since 2017, and he's been a high-volume performer in that role. In 2017, his last full season as a Lion, Tate caught 92 passes for 1,003 yards and five touchdowns. He was traded to Philadelphia during the 2018 season and then signed with the Giants last year. Injuries limited him to 11 games but he still had 49 receptions and six touchdowns and averaged 13.6 yards per grab, his highest mark since 2013. Murphy-Bunting is the Buccaneers' nickel corner when they go to that sub package and he has recorded 23 tackles and one quarterback hit. His production in the first half of this season hasn't been as high as it was during his very promising rookie campaign but he is still helping the Buccaneers field the league's ninth-best passing defense. Murphy-Bunting has the quick feet and hips to be able to excel in the middle of the field and stay with slot receivers on complicated routes in traffic.
DNP: Did not participate in practice
LP: Limited participation in practice
FP: Full participation in practice
NL: Not listed
· WR Chris Godwin (finger) – THURS: DNP; FRI: DNP; SAT: DNP. Game Status: Out.
· TE Rob Gronkowski (shoulder) – THURS: LP; FRI: LP; SAT: FP. Game Status: Not listed.
· WR Scotty Miller (hip/groin) – THURS: LP; FRI: LP; SAT: FP. Game Status: Not listed.
· OLB Jason Pierre-Paul (knee) – THURS: LP; FRI: LP; SAT: DNP. Game Status: Not listed.
· DL Ndamukong Suh (not injury related) – THURS: NL; FRI: NL; SAT: DNP. Game Status: Not listed.
· S Antoine Winfield (shoulder/groin) – THURS: LP; FRI: LP; SAT: FP. Game Status: Not listed.
· WR C.J. Board (concussion) – THURS: LP; FRI: FP; SAT: FP. Game Status: Questionable.
· S Adrian Colbert (shoulder) – THURS: LP; FRI: LP; SAT: LP. Game Status: Out.
· T Cam Fleming (not injury related) – THURS: DNP; FRI: FP. SAT: FP. Game Status: Not listed.
· RB Devonta Freeman (ankle) – THURS: DNP; FRI: DNP; SAT: DNP. Game Status: Out.
· C Nick Gates (not injury related) – THURS: DNP; FRI: FP; SAT: FP. Game Status: Not listed.
· DB Darnay Holmes (neck) ) – THURS: LP; FRI: LP; SAT: LP. Game Status: Not listed.
· OL Shane Lemieux (not injury related) – THURS: DNP; FRI: FP; SAT: FP. Game Status: Not listed.
· C Spencer Pulley (not injury related) – THURS: DNP; FRI: FP; SAT: FP. Game Status: Not listed.
· WR Sterling Shepard (shoulder/toe) – THURS: LP; FRI: LP; SAT: LP. Game Status: Not listed.
· T Andrew Thomas (not injury related) – THURS: DNP; FRI: FP.; SAT: FP. Game Status: Not listed.
Evening Game: Rain showers, evening low of 35, 40% chance of rain, 72% humidity, winds out of the W at 15 mph.
Head referee: Brad Rogers (4 seasons, 2 as referee)
· Favorite: Buccaneers (-12.5)
· Over/Under: 45.0
INDIVIDUAL STAT LEADERS
Points Scored: K Ryan Succop, 58
Touchdowns: WR Mike Evans, 6
Passing Yards: QB Tom Brady, 1,910
Passer Rating: QB Tom Brady, 102.7
Rushing Yards: RB Ronald Jones, 506
Receptions: WR Mike Evans, 25
Receiving Yards: WR Scotty Miller, 365
Interceptions: CB Carlton Davis, 3
Sacks: OLB Jason Pierre-Paul, 5.5
Tackles: ILB Devin White, 61
Points Scored: K Graham Gano, 54
Touchdowns: WR Darius Slayton, 3
Passing Yards: QB Daniel Jones, 1,410
Passer Rating: QB Daniel Jones, 73.7
Rushing Yards: QB Daniel Jones, 296
Receptions: WR Darius Slayton, 27
Receiving Yards: WR Darius Slayton, 429
Interceptions: S Johnathan Abram/S Jeff Heath/LB Nicholas Morrow, 1
Sacks: OLB Kyler Fackrell/DT Leonard Williams, 3.0
Tackles: CB James Bradberry, 3
TEAM STAT RANKINGS
Scoring Offense: 3rd (31.7 ppg)
Total Offense: 15th (371.9 ypg)
Passing Offense: 8th (266.1 ypg)
Rushing Offense: 19th (105.7 ypg)
First Downs Per Game: 17th (22.3)
Third-Down Pct.: 13th (43.8%)
Sacks Per Pass Attempt Allowed: 2nd (2.97%)
Red Zone TD Pct.: 4th (78.6%)
Scoring Defense: 8th (20.3 ppg)
Total Defense: 3rd (291.3 ypg)
Passing Defense: 9th (225.3 ypg)
Rushing Defense: 1st (66.0 ypg)
First Downs Allowed Per Game: 1st (17.1)
Third-Down Pct. Allowed: 10th (38.9%)
Sacks Per Pass Attempt: 4th (10.00%)
Red Zone TD Pct. Allowed: t-11th (57.9%)
Turnover Margin: t-4th (+5)
Scoring Offense: 31st (17.4 ppg)
Total Offense: 31st (282.4 ypg)
Passing Offense: 30th (184.3 ypg)
Rushing Offense: 27th (98.1 ypg)
First Downs Per Game: 31st (18.1)
Third-Down Pct.: 18th (42.4%)
Sacks Per Pass Attempt Allowed: 25th (8.66%)
Red Zone TD Pct.: 31st (33.3%)
Scoring Defense: 14th (24.9 ppg)
Total Defense: 14th (356.3 ypg)
Passing Defense: 21st (251.3 ypg)
Rushing Defense: 8th (105.0 ypg)
First Downs Allowed Per Game: 19th (22.9)
Third-Down Pct. Allowed: 28th (50.5%)
Sacks Per Pass Attempt: 10th (7.32%)
Red Zone TD Pct. Allowed: 9th (53.3%)
Turnover Margin: t-25th (-4)
WHAT TO WATCH FOR
· With four touchdown passes in Week Seven, as compared to two for the Saints' Drew Brees, Buccaneers QB Tom Brady has leapt over Brees into the top spot on the NFL's all-time touchdown passes leaderboard. Brady heads into Week Eight with 559 scoring throws in the regular season, one more than Brady's 558. That top spot figures to be in contention every week for the remainder of the season, though Brees has one more game remaining than Brady. The Buccaneers face the Giants, who have allowed 12 touchdown passes in seven games. The Saints head to Chicago to face the Bears, who have given up six TD passes in seven games.
· OLB Jason Pierre-Paul moved into the top 10 on the Buccaneers' all-time sack list with his 1.5 sacks against Green Bay in Week Six, which gave him 26.5 since he arrived in Tampa. That ties Broderick Thomas for the ninth-most in team history, so one more would give him the ninth spot all alone. Two more would move him past Ronde Barber into eight place.
· The Buccaneers defense has held 13 straight opponents below 100 rushing yards, dating back to last season. If they can make it 14 against the Giants, that would tie for the second-longest such streak in the NFL since the 1970 AFL-NFL merger. The Ravens also had a streak of 14 such outings across the 2000-01 seasons. The record since the merger is 15, by Philadelphia across the 1991-92 campaigns.
· Tampa Bay's defense has also intercepted at least one pass in six straight games, their longest run of games with picks since 2013. If a Buccaneer defender can snare an interception on Monday night and make it seven games in a row, that would be the longest streak for the franchise since a run that spanned the end of 2007 and the beginning of 2008.
· Head Coach Bruce Arians on how the offensive line turned things around after a rough game in Chicago: "I think getting home from Chicago, watching the tape [and] knowing that, that's not what we're capable of [and] that's not who we are. We don't accept it. I think the players – I didn't really have to say a whole lot about it because they had already grilled themselves pretty hard and know that the standard is the standard. Now that we've played that way for a couple weeks, it's the standard. It really started on the practice field after Chicago. Just maintaining that standard now [and] getting ready each week."
· Quarterback Tom Brady on Mike Evans and the Buccaneers' skill-position players on offense: "I think our skill guys are doing an incredible job. Their attitude, their work ethic, their toughness – Mike, in my view, is one of the great players to play in the NFL. He's just spectacular. He's got an incredible skillset, his attitude [and] his production – I wish I could get him the ball more. When you have a guy like that, you want to find ways at every opportunity to get him the ball. He's doing a great job of getting open and he just has an incredible skillset."
· Tight end Rob Gronkowski on playing before a national audience in prime time: "You've got to basically prepare just like how you prepare for any other game. You can't think too much about it – you don't want to overthink the situation. It is a game of football, it's just at nighttime now. It's the prime-time game and you're the only game on. You just want to strap up, make sure you're ready to go and just prepare. If younger guys ask, [I'd tell them,] 'Don't overthink it too much. Prepare how you'd normally prepare, get yourself ready and just make sure you're ready throughout the week, so when the lights come on, you're just ready to go and you're ready to go play some football just like you have been at any other game.'"
· Inside linebacker Devin White on how he and Lavonte David are able to work together and both be productive in the middle of the Bucs' defense: "I think the number one thing for us is neither one of us is selfish. We don't care who [has] the hot hand, who's making the plays, who's pass-rushing them that day. It doesn't really matter. We just want to win football games. I think that's where it all starts at for us. I think the second thing is we're very similar in a lot of ways as far as attributes on the field. Speed, tackling, being able to pass rush, being able to hold running backs and tight ends – we do a great job of that. We're basically interchangeable, so having two of the same guys on the field that's playing well – that's a great thing to have. Especially if you're a defensive coordinator, having two of the same guys that's playing well and kind of have the same similarities. I think that's the number one thing, but I think us not being selfish is what helps us."
· Arians on how well Tom Brady is playing right now: He's fantastic. When we watched him last year, he could still make every single throw. He hasn't disappointed anybody in that regard. We have no concern about calling any kind of play from five yards to 60 yards. Just a matter of getting more comfortable each and every week and seeing his guys."