The Tampa Bay Buccaneers will be angry after laying a dud coming out of their bye week against the Washington Football Team. It's the Buccaneers' second straight loss, and they're not playing all that well at the moment.
Quarterback Tom Brady's offense was stifled and held to 19 points as Taylor Heineke and the Football Team gave the Buccaneers their third loss of the season with a 29-19 score.
Brady rarely fails to perform out of a bye week, but this porous Washington defense held him to 220 passing yards to go along with two touchdowns and two interceptions.
Offensively, the Buccaneers couldn't get much going, and now they'll face the Giants, who will be fresh out of their bye week but who hold a 17-23 record (27th) in post-bye week games (27th in the league).
Before last week's dud, the Buccaneers led the league with an average of 32.5 points per game. That has now dissipated due to their performance and the incredibly 40 burgers the Cowboys and Bills offense dropped in Week 10. Tampa is also second in the NFL behind Dallas.
To say the Buccaneers are a dangerous offensive team is an understatement. If the Giants are going to win this game, defensive coordinator Patrick Graham and the Giants' defense will have to continue playing competent football.
New York played Tampa Bay very well on Monday Night Football last season. Can Daniel Jones learn from that experience and earn his first primetime win?
We hope so.
We'll get to the Bucs defense tomorrow, but here's what the Buccaneers' offense looks like.
Some refer to him as "TB12." Others call him "the GOAT." Whatever you want to call him, one thing is sure: Tom Brady is a darn good quarterback.
Brady may be 43 years old, but he's not slowing down. He has thrown for 2,870-yards with 27 touchdowns and seven interceptions this season and has a completion rate of 67.4 percent, which would be the third-highest in his career if the season ended today.
Brady's transition into Bruce Arians' vertical passing system wasn't seamless. There were some lows in 2020, but most of that is forgotten due to the Super Bowl victory. Needless to say, he now has mastered the system, but that doesn't mean he's invincible.
One of Brady's interceptions against the Football Team wasn't his fault. The ball bounced off rookie wide receiver Jalen Darden and to a Washington defender.
This season, Brady has thrown two picks in two other games: Dallas in Week 1 and New Orleans before the bye week. The Giants' secondary and front seven have been playing well. They'll have to be on their A-Game to pull off this upset against a quarterback who has said on his podcast that he takes immense pleasure in beating.
Former second-round pick Ronald Jones was usurped last season by former Jaguar top-five pick Leonard Fournette who is still somehow 26 years old. Fournette averages 4.3 yards per carry with a total of 439 yards on the ground. He also has 38 catches on the year, so his involvement in that area is also extensive.
Jones appears to have lost the trust of Arians and the rest of the coaching staff. He will spell Fournette now and again, but the third-down role belongs to Giovani Bernard, who had two drops against Washington.
The former Cincinnati Bengal has three receiving touchdowns on the year, but he's been dinged up all season. Expect to see him in most passing situations.
When healthy, the Buccaneers have arguably the most dangerous receiving corps in the league. They have an ideal "X" receiver in Mike Evans, one of the best slot receivers in Chris Godwin, and one of the most explosive receivers in the NFL in Antonio Brown (if he's healthy).
Their fourth and fifth receivers are also insanely talented in Scotty Miller (if he's healthy) and Tyler Johnson.
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Godwin was a game-time decision before ultimately playing against Washington. He is nursing a foot injury. Brown has an ankle injury that has kept him out for several games. He also dealt with COVID-19 earlier in the year.
Miller has been on injured reserve with a turf toe injury, but he could be activated for this game against the Giants.
Evans has 41 catches so far this year for 606 yards. He also has nine touchdowns which isn't surprising. He's one of the best-contested catch receivers in the NFL, and he's one of the best at subtly pushing off corners.
We anticipate that James Bradberry, no stranger to defending Evans from his days with the Panthers, will see a lot of the receiver.
Godwin is dinged up, but he's still effective out of the slot. He has 57 catches for 717 yards and four touchdowns. Darnay Holmes has been playing well for the Giants, and he may be asked to man up on Godwin from time to time.
We also expect Aaron Robinson's role to expand to include man assignments on Godwin.
Brown has four touchdowns and 418 yards on 29 receptions in the five games he played this season. If Miller plays, the Giants have to be aware of his speed. He's one of the more explosive players in the league.
Rob Gronkowski hurt his ribs earlier in the season. He attempted to return a bit early, which resulted in a goal-line target three weeks ago against the Saints before he took himself out of the game. This left O.J. Howard and Cameron Brate as the tight ends.
Howard tore his Achilles last season but has been a solid target when utilized by Brady in Gronkowski's absence, specifically on Thursday Night Football against the Eagles.
Howard has 13 catches for 125-yards and a touchdown. He is a solid blocker whom Arians likes to draw some leak plays for.
Brate plays more snaps than Howard. Brate caught a touchdown against the Football Team last week. He has 14 catches for 131 yards and a touchdown.
Without Gronkowski, the tight end usage has decreased significantly, and more targets are centralized towards the receivers and running backs.
The Buccaneers have one of the best offensive lines in the NFL. Giants' fans were well acquainted with their star second-year right tackle, Tristan Wirfs, a player some wanted the Giants to take in the 2020 draft.
The Giants' outside linebackers will have their hands full with players like Wirfs, but Donovan Smith, on the other side, isn't as effective as Smith. Azeez Ojulari can bend the edge against Smith, albeit he's no slouch as a blocker. That's a matchup that should be interesting.
The interior offensive line consists of right guard Alex Cappa, left guard Ali Marpet, and center Ryan Jenson. All three of these players are mean, physical, great at the point of attack, and just nightmares for defenders.
Dexter Lawrence II and Leonard Williams can still terrorize them, just as much as the two offensive linemen can terrorize Lawrence and Williams. The battle in the trenches when the Buccaneers have the football may be the most interesting in the game.
According to Pro Football Focus, Marpet ranks in the top 10 in run blocking at all positions. Both Smith and Wirfs rank in the top 12 in terms of pass protection at all positions.
The Giants will have to win these one-on-one matchups upfront because bringing extra pressure against Brady isn't always the wisest decision.
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