The New York Giants will officially begin the Daniel Jones era this weekend when they visit the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Kickoff is at 4:05 EST on Sunday, September 22 at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Florida. Fans throughout the northeast and large sections of Florida will be able to watch the game on Fox.
According to our Week 3 NFL odds, the Buccaneers are 6.5-point favorites at home. The over/under for the game is set at 48 points.
After two losses, the Giants have given up on Eli Manning and made Jones the starter. It’s not necessarily Manning’s fault, but the Giants have just 31 total points in the first two games of the season. Something had to change after starting the year with losses to the Cowboys and Bills, and a change at quarterback is that change.
The hope with head coach Pat Shurmur is that it’s not too late to salvage New York’s season. Outside of a trip to New England next month, the Giants have a series of winnable games between now and the end of October. If Jones ends up being the spark they need, it’s not impossible for the Giants to put themselves in the hunt for a playoff spot. However, if the Giants lose this week and fall to 0-3, it’s difficult to imagine them being able to recover, regardless of who’s playing quarterback.
Meanwhile, the Bucs were able to shake off a dreadful Week 1 loss and earn a win in Week 2. Jameis Winston was a disaster the first week of the season, throwing three interceptions, including two that were returned for touchdowns. But he was better last week and the Tampa Bay defense ended up standing their ground late to secure a road win over the Panthers.
That win has given the Buccaneers new life and helped them avoid starting 0-2. Tampa’s problem is that after this weekend, they play four of their next five games on the road, including games with the Rams and Saints the next two weeks. That makes this week’s home game one that they need to have, especially after how much they disappointed the home fans in Week 1.
Honestly, this pick has little to do with Jones starting at quarterback over Manning. It’s mostly about how I don’t trust Winston and the Tampa Bay offense enough to lay down nearly a touchdown. The Bucs may end up with the win, but I’m not sold on them after one Thursday night game against Carolina.
If the Giants win this game, it may not have that much to do with Jones. Rather, it’s going to be about Saquon Barkley. Through two games, he’s averaging nearly eight yards per carry, which is particularly amazing when you consider that he’s only had two carries of 20 yards or more. Regardless of who’s playing quarterback, the Giants are going to ride Barkley as much as they possibly can.
Jones starting at quarterback doesn’t solve New York’s issues on the outside. Outside of Barkley catching passes out of the backfield and tight end Evan Ingram, the Giants don’t have much at the wide receiver that should worry Tampa’s defense. Golden Tate remains suspended, and to make matters worse, the Giants have three wide receivers listed as questionable.
However, the one difference between Jones and Manning is mobility. The Bucs will have to account for Jones as a runner, something that was not on the table with Manning. Jones made plenty of plays with his legs during his college career at Duke. That element should help a New York offense that’s otherwise limited against a Bucs defense that’s been excellent early in the season.
Of course, the Giants would love if their defense could play better. Even the lowly Buffalo offense and quarterback Josh Allen were able to score 28 points against them last week. The Giants have also failed to create a turnover over the first two weeks of the season while only managing three sacks. Admittedly, the New York defense does make me a little nervous about this pick, especially since they’re pairing a subpar defense with a rookie quarterback.
That being said, the Tampa Bay offense has been limited this season, despite last week’s win over the Panthers. Winston survived last week’s game without throwing an interception, but I still question whether he can do that two weeks in a row. The Bucs have also struggled to get Mike Evans going early in the year. Also, while the Tampa Bay rushing attack is much improved from last season, it’s still nothing special.
In the end, the Giants have the best player on the field in Barkley and a wild card at the quarterback position. If the spread were less than a field goal, I’d probably feel more comfortable taking the Bucs to cover. But I’m not sure the Tampa Bay defense is good enough to cover a touchdown when I don’t trust the team’s quarterback. To be honest, this is kind of a coin flip, but I’ll take my chances with the Giants and the points.