New York Giants (0-3) at Tampa Bay Buccaneers (1-1)
The Buccaneers opened their season with a 29-7 win at home over the Bears week 2 (after their week 1 game was rescheduled because of Hurricane Irma), but then they had an equally big loss last week, losing 34-17 in Minnesota to a Vikings team led by starting quarterback Case Keenum. What happened? Well, turnover margin was a one huge difference, as they won the turnover battle by 3 in the opener, but then lost it by 3 last week. Turnover margins tend to be inconsistent on a week-to-week basis, so the Buccaneers probably aren’t as good as they looked in the opener and probably aren’t as bad as they looked last week.
The other huge difference between week 2 and week 3 for the Buccaneers was injuries, as the Buccaneers were without middle linebacker Kwon Alexander, defensive tackle Chris Baker, and cornerback Brent Grimes with injury, all above average starters on this defense. While they should bounce back turnover wise, the Buccaneers could be in even worse shape injury wise this week. Baker and Grimes are expected back, but Alexander remains out and will be joined by safety TJ Ward and outside linebacker Lavonte David. David is the biggest loss as he was playing as well as any linebacker in the league before going down.
They do face an 0-3 Giants team, but the Giants have faced a pretty tough schedule so far (Dallas, Detroit, and Philadelphia), so the banged up Buccaneers might be their easiest opponent so far this season. Despite the tough schedule and the 0-3 record, the Giants are -1.77% in first down rate differential, which isn’t terrible all things considered. Their offense has struggled like it did last season, but their defense has continued to play well, despite missing talented cornerback Janoris Jenkins week 2 and promising middle linebacker BJ Goodson in both week 2 and week 3. Both of those players will play this week for a Giants team that is in a much better injury situation than their opponents this week.
The Giants are also in a much better situation than the Buccaneers schedule wise, as they host the Chargers next week, while the Buccaneers have to turn around and host the Patriots on a short week on Thursday Night Football. Underdogs tend to cover before being favorites when their opponents will next be underdogs, going 100-64 ATS in that spot since 2012. On top of that, teams are just 45-100 ATS since 2012 before being home underdogs of 4.5 or more and Tampa Bay is currently +4.5 against New England on the early line.
The short week makes matters worse for the Buccaneers, as favorites are 58-88 ATS since 2008 before Thursday Night Football. With a tough game in 4 days, the Buccaneers might not be fully focused for the winless Giants, while the Giants should be fully focused with a relatively easy game on deck. I wish we were getting more line value, as the Buccaneers’ big loss in Minnesota moved this line from 6 on the early line last week to 3 this week, but the Giants are still worth a bet at 3. I have this line calculated at -1.5 given everyone the Buccaneers are missing and the Giants are in a great spot as well.
New York Giants 20 Tampa Bay Buccaneers 19 Upset Pick +135
Pick against the spread: NY Giants +3