An inside look at Monday’s Giants-Buccaneers Week 11 matchup at Raymond James Stadium:
Buccaneers WR Mike Evans vs. Giants CB James Bradberry
One of the reasons the Giants jumped on Bradberry in the 2020 free-agency signing period was his effectiveness as a member of the Panthers against the top receivers in the NFC South. That included Bradberry’s work versus Evans. Last season, Evans caught a touchdown pass against Bradberry. This season, Evans’ nine touchdowns receptions were second in the NFL to Cooper Kupp (10) entering Sunday. “I think he’s just who he is,” Bradberry said. “He’s a physical, big receiver, able to use his body well and he attacks the ball. He has a huge catch radius. I think that’s what made it so hard to play against him last year.”
If Daniel Jones, with most of his playmakers finally assembled and on the field with him, cannot pick apart this depleted Tampa secondary, something is very wrong — most likely, it is the offensive linemen that are the culprits. The Bucs are prolific at home and the always-motivated Tom Brady is eager to break this rare losing skid. The Giants are rested but are usually overmatched when they play on the prime-time stage.
Buccaneers 31, Giants 17
Terse Tom: Tom Brady was so irritated after last week’s loss that he warned “Make it quick” as he entered his postgame press conference and then made a hasty retreat after offering dismissive answers to the only three questions he took before he fled.
After a 6-1 start, the Bucs lost road games at New Orleans and Washington. Brady is not accustomed to losing any game, much less two in a row. The last time Brady lost three straight? You have to go back to 2002, his first year as a starting quarterback. Can the Giants pull the upset and make Brady upset? Well, the Buccaneers are 4-0 at home and are averaging 40.5 points a game.
Attack mode: It is not only that the Giants are as healthy as they have been all season with their offensive playmaking personnel — Saquon Barkley, Kenny Golladay and Kadarius Toney — all healthy, at last. It is also that the Buccaneers are ravaged at cornerback, with starters Carlton Davis and Sean Murphy-Bunting on injured reserve, along with veteran Richard Sherman. The Bucs are left with reserves Jamel Dean and Dee Delaney as fill-in starters and also must use a Giants castoff (Ross Cockrell) and a Jets castoff (Pierre Desir). If Daniel Jones has the time he needs to scan the field — that certainty cannot be taken for granted — there should be openings for the Giants to make plays down the field.
Grime time: The last time it happened was Oct. 12, 2018. The Giants beat the 49ers on the road on “Monday Night Football.” Since then, the Giants are 0-9 playing in prime time, on Thursday, Sunday or Monday nights.
The Giants look worse than ever when the lights come on. Daniel Jones is 0-7 in prime time as a starting quarterback — 0-2 already this season.
“I really haven’t thought about it,” Jones said. “I didn’t realize it until recently. I think each one of them was a different game. We haven’t won enough games here recently, period.”
Half deck: Much was made of the Buccaneers bringing back all 22 starters on offense and defense from their Super Bowl team, as such continuity is highly unusual. The cast of characters has not been consistent, though.
Tight end Rob Gronkowski (questionable to play with a back injury) has played in only four games this season and wide receiver Antonio Brown (ankle) is out with an ankle issue.
“Oh, it’s totally different,” Bucs coach Bruce Arians said. “You take two potential Hall of Famers out of there, it’s a big difference. We’ve got good quality depth and I like the way the guys that have been playing and have stepped up, but Gronk and AB are two very, very special players and hopefully we’ll get them back soon.”