Giants, Daniel Jones heavy underdogs to snap prime-time drought
Playing under the lights in prime time hasn’t been a good situation for Daniel Jones.
The New York quarterback will look to earn his first win in eight such career starts when the Giants (3-6) visit the Tampa Bay Buccaneers (6-3) on Monday night.
Part of the 0-7 mark are two setbacks this season — a 30-29 loss to the Washington Football Team on a Thursday in September and a 20-17 loss to the Kansas City Chiefs on a Monday earlier this month.
“I really haven’t thought about it,” Jones said of the dubious streak. “I didn’t realize it until recently, but we’re preparing for this week. Each game is different. Each game is a different opportunity, so we’ll look to prepare for this one.”
Overall, New York has lost nine consecutive night games — five on Mondays, three on Thursdays and one on Sunday — since Eli Manning guided the Giants to a 27-23 victory over the San Francisco Giants on Nov. 12, 2018.
They are heavy underdogs to break that streak Monday night. The Bucs are 11-points favorites at most sportsbooks, with Tampa Bay backed by 61 percent of the bets and 54 percent of the handle at DraftKings.
However, New York is the more popular spread-line bet at BetRivers, where the Giants are being backed by 65.74 percent of the bets and 62.09 percent of the handle.
AI-driven analytics company Quarter4 has forecast the Bucs with a 58 percent probability of winning the game outright.
The Giants had a chance for a victory over Tampa Bay last season when the teams played on a Monday night. New York led 14-3 late in the first half before the Buccaneers rallied for a 25-23 victory.
Tampa Bay leads the NFC South by one game, but the mood is a bit uneasy after consecutive losses to the New Orleans Saints and Washington.
The Buccaneers gave up 65 points in the two outings to see their ranking in scoring defense (23.6 points per game) slide to a tie for 17th.
Outside linebacker Shaquil Barrett, who has a team-best 5.5 sacks, said the focus this week has been on fixing what’s wrong.
“Start by looking in the mirror and just get back on track and get back to the mindset that we have to go out there and earn every play,” Barrett said. “We have to grind it out. Nothing is going to be given to us. Nothing is going to be easy, so we have to work for everything that we want.”
The offense continues to be solid as Tampa Bay ranks third in scoring (31.0 points per game). Quarterback Tom Brady leads the NFL with 27 touchdown passes and has thrown for 2,870 yards and seven interceptions.
Receiver Mike Evans is second in the NFL with nine touchdown catches this season and has 70 in his career.
The 28-year-old Evans’ next score will tie him with team legend Mike Alstott (71 from 1996-2006) for the most total touchdowns in franchise history. Alstott, a fullback, rushed for 58 scores and had 13 as a receiver.
“For Mike (Evans) to do it, it shows an unbelievable level of consistency and availability,” Buccaneers coach Bruce Arians said of the eighth-year pro. “He doesn’t miss many games. When you put those two together, with seven years of 1,000 yards, it’s availability and consistency at a very high level.”
As for New York, the Giants had a bye last week after beating the Las Vegas Raiders 23-16 on Nov. 7. The team also is hopeful running back Saquon Barkley (ankle) can return after a four-game absence.
Barkley was hurt during a 44-20 loss to the Dallas Cowboys on Oct. 10. He has rushed for 195 yards and two touchdowns this season.
Barkley was a limited participant in Thursday’s practice. Giants coach Joe Judge wasn’t ready to say the Giants can count on having Barkley against Tampa Bay, but offensive coordinator Jason Garrett is surely eager to call Barkley’s number.
“He’s just a great football player,” said Garrett, the former head coach of the Dallas Cowboys. “I was on the other side of this for a couple of years against him, and he’s one of those players that can just really impact a game.”
And on the home sideline, tight end Rob Gronkowski is expected to be active for the Bucs (6-3).
Both players are officially listed as questionable, and both are dependent on not having any pregame setbacks, per a report by ESPN on Monday.
Gronkowski, 32, has essentially missed the past six games with a back injury. He played just six snaps in Tampa’s Week 8 loss at New Orleans before exiting. He has 16 catches for 184 yards with four touchdowns in four games.
Also for the Bucs, WR Antonio Brown has been ruled out, nose tackle Vita Vea is doubtful, and cornerback Dee Delaney (ankle, concussion) and defensive lineman Rakeem Nunez-Roches (ankle) are questionable.
For the Giants, Lorenzo Carter, Nate Ebner, Logan Ryan and Sterling Shepard are all out. Running back Devontae Booker (hip), fullback Cullen Gillaspia (calf) and TE Kaden Smith (knee) are all questionable.
The Giants did activate left tackle Andrew Thomas from injured reserve Monday.
–Field Level Media