The Giants have had nearly two weeks to get healthier, focus on correcting repetitive mistakes and hone in on small details. They last played Nov. 7 at home at MetLife Stadium, defeating the Las Vegas Raiders 23-16 to raise their record to 3-6. Overall, the Giants are seeded 13th in the 16-team National Football Conference. Seven teams from each NFL conference, the NFC and AFC, 14 in total, will make the playoffs.
The Giants will next face Tom Brady and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on the road on Monday night. It will be a difficult and untimely matchup for the Giants, as the 6-3 Buccaneers have had back-to-back losses, falling to the Saints in New Orleans 36-27 in Week 8, then losing 29-19 to the 3-6 Washington Football Team last Sunday at FedExField five miles outside of the nation’s capital.
Afterwards, the Buccaneers’ head coach, Bruce Arians, had a harsh assessment of the defending Super Bowl champions. “It has nothing to do with ability,” stewed Arians. “It’s about execution and being a smart football team. We’re a very dumb football team. And that’s a reflection of the coaches.”
So the Giants can expect a Buccaneers squad that should be intensely purposeful, physical and locked in. Motivated by Arians’ unfiltered criticism. “I would expect to see their best football of the year this [week],” said Giants head coach Joe Judge on Monday in addressing the media from the team’s practice facility in East Rutherford, New Jersey.
“I really would. I’ll expect to see Tom [Brady] play his best football, I’ll expect them to play their best defense as a team, best offense, best coaching job they’ve had. It’s a very, very talented roster. They won the championship last year for a reason. Very, very rare to return all of your players the way they did.
“That’s something you just don’t see a lot in any kind of professional sports, let alone in the National Football League. It’s a great opportunity for [us] to go against a team like this and compete. I would expect to see their absolute best this week.”
The Giants are hoping running back Saquon Barkley and left tackle Andrew Thomas are back after missing time due to injuries. Barkley has been sidelined for four straight games after sustaining a sprained left ankle Oct. 10 in a 44-20 loss to the Dallas Cowboys.
Thomas, who was out Week 5 with a left foot injury, returned the following week but played less than two quarters in a 38-11 defeat to the Los Angeles Rams resulting from a right ankle issue. He hasn’t suited up since after being placed on injured reserve.