What to watch for in Bucs-Giants 'Monday Night Football' matchup

The uniform and personnel may be different, but the Giants organization should expect to see the same ol’ Tom Brady on Monday Night Football.

Brady, who will face Big Blue for the eighth time in his career, and the Buccaneers (5-2) enter Week 8 having won their last two in blowout fashion and look every bit like the dangerous team they’re built to be. The Giants, on the other hand, come into the game with a 1-6 record and the deck stacked firmly against them.

Anything can happen in prime time but, unless Daniel Jones can turn back the clock and replicate the performance he gave against this team a year ago, it’s hard to envision New York pulling off a miracle win at MetLife.

Here are three storylines to watch for when the Bucs meet the Giants on MNF (8:15 PM ET, ESPN):

Will Brady stay in his bag?

Those still praying on Brady’s downfall might want to (finally) consider picking up a new hobby. After starting 2020 off a bit slow, the 43-year-old has been playing at a high level since Week 3. Brady’s 15-1 TD-INT ratio in that span ranks first in the league, per NFL Research. His O-line doing a better job of keeping him upright has certainly helped, too; they’ve allowed five sacks since Week 2 after surrendering three in the opener. Even at his “advanced” age, the advanced stats show that Brady has thrived in Bruce Arians’ offense, no matter the play call. He’s completed 72.7 percent of his quick passes (less than 2.5 seconds), posted the fourth-highest deep rate (14.6) and logged the third-most yards on deep passes (505), per Next Gen Stats. Since turning 40, Brady has made a habit out of showing QBs 20-plus years his junior a thing or two. He’ll look to continue that trend against Jones in Week 8.

Another week, another tough D for Jones

Already this season, Jones has faced four teams with top-10 scoring defenses. And he’s fallen flat each time. The Bucs, who rank in the top eight and are two weeks removed from manhandling Aaron Rodgers, pose another stout challenge. With an O-line that’s allowed 20 sacks, the turnover-prone QB will likely find himself using his legs more than usual to survive the Bucs’ pass rush. Considering he’s also the team’s leading rusher, one has to wonder what that will even look like, especially since the already struggling run game will be without Devonta Freeman. The best-case scenario would be for things to play out like they did when Jones faced Tampa in his first career start. The 2019 first-rounder displayed confidence and toughness on the road and finished with 336 yards, four total TDs and no INTs. He did take five sacks that day, but left with a 32-31 win. The hope for New York and offensive coordinator Jason Garrett is that Jones can hold his own once more against a hungry defensive front that will deploy an uber-motivated Jason Pierre-Paul this go-around.

How will Tampa’s pecking order look in the AB-era?

Looking ahead to Week 9 might sound premature but, when you have a reinforcement like Antonio Brown on the way, it’s easy to want to take a peek into the future. Boasting a versatile assortment of offensive talent, the Bucs have outscored their opponents 168-91 over their last five contests (4-1) and outgained them in each. Eight different receivers have 10-plus receptions and five different players have led them in receiving yards in a game, numbers that reflect the versatility and vulnerability of Tampa’s receiving corps. Mike Evans, Rob Gronkowski, Scott Miller (four starts) and Ronald Jones are the only starters to not miss a game, though Evans has dealt with injuries, as well. Adding Brown, who Arians expects to play against the Saints, gives Brady both an excellent slot option and insurance given how often Chris Godwin has been hurt. MNF will be his fourth missed game. It didn’t take long for Tampa to forge chemistry, but it’ll be interesting to see how Brown’s pending arrival rearranges the depth chart.

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