The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are surging just as they are about to be put on the national stage in Week Eight.
After a 45-20 win in Las Vegas improved the Buccaneers to 5-2 on the season and kept them in first place in the NFC South, Week Eight brings a Monday Night Football showcase in the Meadowlands against the New York Giants. Tampa Bay's last two wins, both by at least 25 points, were against Green Bay and Las Vegas teams that had been on hot streaks of their own. The Giants bring a 1-6 record into Monday's contest.
The Buccaneers will be led into the Meadowlands by quarterback Tom Brady, who is coming off a masterful performance in the Buccaneers' 45-20 win over the Raiders on Sunday. Brady threw for four touchdowns and also ran in a score, and over his last five games he's tossed 15 scoring passes and just one interception. The Buccaneers' offense has allowed zero sacks and committed zero turnovers over its last two games.
The game in Las Vegas kicked off at 4:05 p.m. It was originally supposed to be NBC's Sunday Night Football game, but the Raiders' COVID-19 concerns caused the NFL to move it up and put a surer bet in the prime-time slot. Still, the Buccaneers will play the first of three prime-time games in four weeks on Monday against the Giants.
After squaring off against two of the hottest quarterbacks of 2020 the last two weeks in Green Bay's Aaron Rodgers and the Raiders' Derek Carr, Brady will be opposed on Monday night by the Giants' Daniel Jones. After being selected sixth overall in the 2019 draft, Jones had a promising rookie season after taking over for Eli Manning, including a 32-31 win over the Buccaneers in his first career start. He has struggled a bit more in 2020, throwing five touchdowns against seven interceptions and seeing his passer rating fall 14 points to 73.7. Jones does happen to be the Giants' leading rusher, with 296 yards on the ground, more than he had all of last season.
The Buccaneers will oppose Jones with a defense that ranked first in the NFL in yards allowed and rushing yards allowed heading into Week Seven. That crew has been led the last two weeks by second-year linebacker Devin White – the player drafted one spot ahead of Jones in 2019 – who in the Bucs' two wins has racked up 21 tackles, 4.0 sacks, four tackles for loss and five quarterback hits.
The Buccaneers have won five of six since opening the season with a loss in New Orleans, the lone blemish a Week Five Thursday night loss by one point to the Chicago Bears. The Giants got their one win in Week Six against Washington but four of their seven games have been decided by four points or less. Though they've put together two straight impressive wins, the Buccaneers are not expecting it to be easy to make it three in a row on Monday night.
"There's a lot of hard work ahead," said Brady. "None of it just magically happens. I think we realized that early in the season. We put a lot of new people together and we've got to figure a lot of things out in a short period of time. That's what it takes for a good football team, to continue to work at it every day and try to be better every week, and that's what we're going to try to be."