The New York Giants host the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Monday Night Football this week.
Wes Reynolds and Dave Tuley preview the game and break down their best bets.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers (-12.5, 45.5) at New York Giants
Reynolds: The Buccaneers (5-2 SU; 4-3 ATS) sit atop the NFC South by a half game over the New Orleans Saints and are coming off two impressive wins over Green Bay (38-10) and at Las Vegas (45-20) over the last two weeks.
The Bucs offense was expected to improve with the added weapons surrounding Tom Brady, who comes into Monday night off his best game of the season (369 yards and four touchdown passes), but the defense has really been the story as the Tampa stop unit ranks third in the metrics Pass Defense DVOA and first in Rush Defense DVOA, according to Football Outsiders.
The Bucs are allowing the fewest rushing yards per game (66) and rank third in total yards allowed (291.3 ypg) and second in sacks (25). Tampa Bay has held six of its seven opponents to their respective lowest yardage total on the season.
Meanwhile, the Giants (1-6 SU; 4-3 ATS) currently sit in the cellar of the NFC Least yet are still right in the thick of the division. Despite this woeful season, the Giants are still fighting and have covered three of their last four games.
The Giants offense has been bad, ranking 30th in DVOA and 31st in total yards (282.4 ypg) and points (17.4 ppg), with only the Jets ranking worse. The defense has been at least respectable at 13th (356.3 ypg) and especially on the ground where it ranks eighth (105.0 ypg).
On the injury front, Bucs wide receiver Chris Godwin has been ruled out with a fractured left index finger and new signee Antonio Brown will not be available to play until next week versus New Orleans at the earliest.
The look-ahead line for this one at Westgate SuperBook was Bucs -9.5 and has risen to -13. The increase is partially a result of the Bucs’ impressive win in Las Vegas as a road favorite (now 5-1 ATS in the last six in that role). Keep in mind that was just a four-point game midway through the fourth quarter before getting out of hand.
Another reason for the heavy Tampa support is the potential COVID-19 concern with the Giants, who placed offensive lineman Will Hernandez on the reserve/COVID-19 list late in the week.
However, the Bucs do have the Week 1 rematch with the Saints on deck next Sunday night and are looking not only for payback for their 34-23 defeat in New Orleans but also for control of the NFC South starting the second half of the season. The Giants also have had a couple extra days of preparation having played last on Thursday night of Week 7 in Philadelphia. The G-Men also are 4-1 ATS in their last five as an underdog. Underdogs in stand-alone prime time games were 16-7 ATS thus far this season entering Sunday.
The total opened at 48 and has seen steady movement toward the Under and it currently sits at 45. Lower temperatures in the mid-to-high 30s are expected with steady 12-15 mph winds. The betting public generally likes to bet stand-alone prime-time games Over, but they have not been winning as the Under was 17-6.
The Giants are not popular tickets at the betting windows or on the apps with around a 3-to-1 margin for the Bucs on the ticket count and a 4-to-1 margin on the money count. The G-Men ( 12.5) were not popular in the Circa Sports Million II contest, either, as the only other team that had fewer selections was the Ben DiNucci-led Dallas Cowboys. However, there could be some buyback on the big underdog here as the Bucs do have that showdown with the Saints on deck. No team has shown the ability to run away with the NFC East yet, so there is not a lot of pressure on a rebuilding Giants team. At 13 or higher, there will be at least some professional bettors interested in taking the large number.
Tuley: The Monday nighter isn’t a marquee matchup, but I’m willing to jump in on the Giants plus the generous points. We all know the Buccaneers are on a roll, but let’s not crown them yet as they did lose 20-19 to the Bears just three weeks ago. Meanwhile, the Giants are 4-3 ATS despite a 1-6 SU record as they’ve been more competitive than expected in a lot of their games, including covering in losses to the Bears, Rams, Cowboys and Eagles. There’s no reason they can’t stay within two scores of the Bucs.
Pick: Giants 10.5 or better