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Fact or Fiction: Monday Night Football Preview

FACT-OR-FICTION

Devontae Booker will still be used frequently when Saquon Barkley returns.

John Schmeelk: Fiction – Now, we get to play the "can you please define frequently" game. Let's keep it simple. In the first week Saquon returns, maybe Booker will still get 30-50% of the snaps if Barkley isn't quite in game shape yet. Once Barkley is able to handle taking 75-90% of the running back snaps, he liekly will be given those on a regular basis. Booker has been an effective backup, but he lacks the Barkley's ability to consistently make explosive plays.

Dan Salomone: Fact – Joe Judge was asked about this specifically coming off the win before the bye week. "He's done a lot of things that give us the confidence to go ahead and put him in there, and you're always better off having two guys that can carry the ball and stay fresh out there and keep wearing down a defense," he said. "Those two-headed monster teams are tough to face."

Lance Medow: Fact - This really comes down to how you define and interpret frequently based on the volume of touches/snaps. Davontae Booker has proven he deserves a role in the offense moving forward, so it's unlikely they're going to hand Barkley a full workload right away. For example, in Week 1, when Saquon played for the first time since suffering a season-ending knee injury in Week 2 in 2020, he had only 11 touches. Barkley and Booker can also be utilized as receivers out of the backfield so you can have them both on the field simultaneously to keep the defense guessing. Several teams in the NFL showcase multiple running backs and with Booker compiling over 100 scrimmage yards in each of the last two games, it would make sense to keep him involved in the game plan.

Matt Citak: Fiction – Booker has played well in Barkley's absence, including a career-high 99 rushing yards on 21 carries (4.7 avg.) against the Raiders in Week 9. Including his 23 receiving yards, it was Booker's second consecutive game with 120+ yards from scrimmage. However, his touches will take a big hit once Barkley returns. In the three games that both backs were active, Booker had games of five, three and two touches while never topping 10 rushing yards. When healthy, Barkley is the most talented player on the offense and must be on the field as much as possible. Although Booker will likely still get a few carries each game, Barkley is the one that will shoulder most of the load out of the backfield.

Tampa Bay is the best team the Giants will face this year.

John Schmeelk: Fact - Since Brady is the Bucs quarterback and they are the defending champions, give them the nod over the Rams and Cowboys, though both of those teams (along with the Packers and Cardinals) are all part of the upper-echelon of a top-heavy NFC. When the season is over, the Chiefs might be in this conversation too, but they certainly were not playing their highest level of football when the Giant splayed them Nov. 1st.

Dan Salomone: Fact – Defending Super Bowl champion, check. Returned all their starters, check. Most accomplished player in the history of professional sports, check.

Lance Medow: Fiction - The Giants already faced the Cowboys, Rams and Chiefs, who are all formidable opponents and in the playoff mix. The Bucs are in the same category but unlike some of those other teams, Tampa Bay isn't fully healthy at this point. They're without two of their top corners in Carlton Davis and Sean Murphy-Bunting, defensive lineman Vita Vea was banged up in their last game and wide receiver Antonio Brown and tight end Rob Gronkowski have also been sidelined. While some of those individuals could play Monday night, that's still a notable group of players, who haven't been in the lineup consistently. The Cowboys and Rams have had most of their top players available since the start of the season and also have a better record than the Bucs.

Matt Citak: Fiction – This was a tough one, with Tampa Bay coming in a very close second on the list of the Giants' most talented opponents this season. However, since the Buccaneers fell to this team by double digits in Week 3, give the nod to the Los Angeles Rams. The Rams have lost two consecutive games to fall to 7-3 on the season, and quite frankly, looked quite bad in both defeats. But even with those two bad losses, the Rams still sport one of the best all-around teams in the NFL. The offense, after scoring 26 total points over the last two weeks, still ranks in the Top 7 in both yards and points. Meanwhile the defense, which has surrendered 59 points in the two recent losses, ranks Top 12 in both yards and points allowed. Oh yeah, they also just added Von Miller and Odell Beckham Jr…

Click through the history of the New York Giants facing legendary quarterback Tom Brady, a series that includes two meetings in the Super Bowl.

You would rather play Tom Brady when he's coming off a win.

John Schmeelk: Fiction - Tom Brady is a perfectionist. He gets mad when things do not go well. The Buccaneers have lost two straight. Tom Brady has not lost three straight games as a starting quarterback since 2002. When he and his team does not perform to standards, he tends to solve those problems quickly. As Joe Judge said earlier in the week, the expectation is that Brady and the Bucs will come out with their best possible effort.

Dan Salomone: Fact – You certainly don't want to play him coming off back-to-back losses. The last five times he has done that in the same regular season, his teams have won by 12, 21, 12, 31, and 21 points.

Lance Medow: Fact – Let's not buy the whole mindset of a quarterback/team entering a game having a great deal of influence on the outcome. Every contest is important in the NFL. You only have 17 opportunities and given the parity of the league, especially what we're seeing this season, no one is in any position to take an opponent for granted, regardless of the previous game's result. If the Bucs beat Washington, do you really think Tampa Bay is in that much more of a comfortable spot. The Saints and Panthers are still very much in the mix for the NFC South title and the Bucs had lost their previous game to New Orleans before the bye. If forced to choose, of course I'd say Tom Brady coming off a win but, in the end, it really doesn't make much of a difference. Following last season's bye in Week 13, Tampa Bay won eight straight games en route to winning the Super Bowl. Do you really think the Bucs' opponents were thinking things will be a bit easier because Brady and company are over confident? By the way, a team with Brady at quarterback hasn't lost three straight games since Weeks 4-6, 2002. It's now 2021.

Matt Citak: Fact – There are not many things scarier in the sport of football than facing Tom Brady after a loss. In fact, the all-time great is one of the best ever coming off a loss. Now in his 22nd season, Brady has a record of 50-15 in the regular season after a loss. His winning percentage is one of the best marks ever among quarterbacks with at least 23 starts following a loss, according to Mike Reiss of ESPN.com. As if this wasn't bad enough, the Buccaneers have actually lost two consecutive games, with Brady registering five total turnovers in the two losses. The 44-year-old quarterback has lost three straight games only once in his long career, and it came in 2002. It's safe to say the Giants would have preferred the Buccaneers to beat Washington last week for a multitude of reasons.

The Buccaneers' defense poses a bigger problem than their offense.

John Schmeelk: Fiction - The Bucs' defense ranks Top 10 in most categories and is anchored by their strong rush defense, which could be adversely impacted by the potential absence of enormous nose tackle Vita Vea. They have injuries at cornerback and Jason Pierre-Paul has been playing through a shoulder injury that has impacted his play. Their offense could get Rob Gronkowski back (more likely than Antonio Brown as of writing) and it is hard to find something they are truly poor at offensively. Brady is still an elite quarterback, their offensive line blocks well, and they have excellent skill-position players. The Giants' defense will be put to the test.

Dan Salomone: Fiction – The Buccaneers are stout against the run and in the red zone, but the offense is a handful, especially at home. They average 40.5 points per game this season at Raymond James Stadium, where Brady has thrown at least four touchdowns in five consecutive games.

Lance Medow: Fiction – The Bucs are down two of their top corners in Carlton Davis and Sean Murphy-Bunting - that's resulted in several players seeing action in the secondary, including Richard Sherman, who is now also sidelined with a calf injury. Tampa Bay still has a very strong front seven highlighted by a handful of game-changing players but in comparison to the offense, the defense comes in second. The Bucs lead the NFL in passing yards per game and are third in total offense and points per game. They're averaging 31 points per contest and have scored 38 or more three times in their first nine games. Tom Brady loves to spread the wealth and Tampa Bay is certainly not lacking the weapons. This is a challenge across the board for the Giants but given New York's struggles in putting points on the board itself, this matchup puts even more pressure on the Giants' defense.

Matt Citak: Fiction – The Buccaneers' defense is certainly a talented unit, but it's unfair to compare it to the Tampa Bay offense. Despite the offense averaging 23 points and 347 yards per game over the two recent losses, the unit still ranks third in both points and yards. Tom Brady leads the league with 318.9 passing yards per game and 27 total passing touchdowns, thanks in part to their star-studded group of playmakers. Mike Evans, Chris Godwin, and Antonio Brown make up the most talented wide receiver trio in the league, while Rob Gronkowski, O.J. Howard and Cameron Brate are likely the best tight end group. Leonard Fournette is also having a big bounce-back season out of the backfield. The Bucs rank third in the league in third-down conversion percentage and ninth in red zone conversion percentage. Tampa Bay will also be without star defensive tackle Vita Vea and cornerback Richard Sherman, which is a tough blow to the defense. Even if Gronkowski and Brown are unable to return for Monday's game, the Bucs still have enough playmakers to cause a lot of trouble for the Giants' defense.

View rare photos from the all-time series between the Giants and Buccaneers ahead of their Week 11 Monday night matchup.