The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are the favourites to win the NFC, tonight they travel to New York to face the lowly Giants. Ben Steele picks out his best bets...
"In the shape of running back Ronald Jones Tampa Bay may have discovered a real talent. Jones, a second year rusher out of USC, has totaled over 100 yards in three of his last four games and found the endzone three times in that spell."
Old habits die hard for Brady and Gronk
The defining play of Super Bowl 53 was Tom Brady connecting with tight end Rob Gronkowski late in the 4th quarter on a diving catch to set up the touchdown that would end up winning Brady his sixth Super Bowl and his third with Gronkowski as a teammate. The gregarious tight end announced his retirement from the NFL after the game in 2019 and set about winning a WWE title belt, Brady had a solid 2019 season with the New England Patriots before he moved to Tampa Bay during free agency. That move down to Florida also tempted Gronkowski out of retirement to play with his friend in Tampa and, after a slow start, the pair appear to be back to their New England best.
In the last two weeks Tampa have thrashed both the Green Bay Packers (38-10) and Oakland Raiders (45-20) with Gronkowski catching five passes and a touchdown in both games. Wide reciever Chris Godwin will miss Monday night's game with a broken finger which is bad news for the Buccaneers but good news for Gronkowski's productivity. Godwin missed the start of the season through injury but since coming in to the lineup four weeks ago he has become Brady's safety blanket, catching at least five passes in each game, with that option removed I'd expect Brady to look for the familiarity of Gronkowski and attack a Giants team who have a solid but unspectacular defence.
The Buccaneers have started the season strongly and shouldn't have any issue beating a poor New York Giants side, Gronkowski and Brady look back to their best and an OddsBoost of Gronkowski to score the first touchdown at 13/1 is well worth a look.
Gronk not the only weapon for Tampa
Last season, with quarterback Jameis Winston under centre the Buccaneers where an entertaining, high scoring side but were often undone by Winston's mistakes (the 26-year-old threw 30 interceptions in 2019), the move to acquire Tom Brady in the offseason has streamlined the Tampa offence immensely. Brady has added exceptional decision making, and a phenomenal reading of the game, to an offence that already had a number of attacking talents.
Mike Evans has continued his role as one of the better wide receiver's in the league, catching six touchdowns already as he looks on pace to score more TDs in a season than ever before, rookie Scotty Miller has shown himself to be a dependable pass catching option when called upon, and in the shape of running back Ronald Jones Tampa Bay may have discovered a real talent. Jones, a second year rusher out of USC, has totaled over 100 yards in three of his last four games and found the endzone three times in that spell.
With opposing defences lining up to stop Brady and his myriad of passing options from beating them Jones isn't the main focus and he is able to find gaps behind the best offensive line in the NFL. Brady should have a lot of time to throw tonight and I'm expecting him to find Evans throughout the game so I'm backing a Same Game Multi of Evans and Jones to score anytime as the Giants struggle to deal with the favourites in the NFC.
Jones provides Giants hope despite errors
The 2020 season is already somewhat of a write off for the New York Giants, an early injury to star running back Saquon Barkley coupled with a terrible run of performances has seen them fall to 1-6, their only victory coming against the similarly hapless Washington Football Team. The main aim of this season now will be to work out if they believe that quarterback Daniel Jones is the man to lead them in to the future. I would argue that he has shown enough promise to be worth sticking with and despite his struggles with turnovers he has the ability to trouble Tampa Bay tonight.
With New York often playing from behind Jones has thrown the ball 33 times a game but with a lack of talent around him he has had to resort to forcing the issue which leads to interceptions. Jones has thrown an interception in six of his seven starts this season and facing a Buccaneers defence who have had at least one pick in their last six games I'd expect that run to continue. In fact, given the opportunistic nature of the Tampa Bay defence 10/3 is a good price for them to score a touchdown.
Despite his tendency to make mistakes, Jones is a talented player who is the key to the Giants offence, in a game where I expect the Buccs to jump out to an early lead Jones could be throwing regularly. Look for the second year Giants QB to throw for over 224.5 yards in a Tampa Bay win.
Ben Steele NFL P/L:
Staked: 27 points
Returned: 28.4 points
P/L: +1.4 points