Buccaneers face final NFC North opponent of 2017 season as they welcome the Detroit Lions to Raymond James Stadium. Offensive line must come together and better protect Jameis Winston.
The Bucs lost a heartbreaker in overtime to the Green Bay Packers. The Lions on the other hand were dismantled by the Baltimore Ravens.
Keys to the Game:
There’s a couple major talking points for this week. First, let’s start with the Buccaneers. Last Sunday the Packers defense absolutely dominated against a beat up Bucs offensive line. Tampa allowed a total of seven sacks and 13 quarterback hits. Not to mention the defensive TD’s that the Packers scored. Of course the Bucs are missing multiple starters on the O-line, but another performance like that might just get Jameis Winston hurt again. Showings like last Sunday are exactly why people are questioning why even start Jameis in the first place.
Next, on the Bucs defensive side of the ball, they were shredded on the ground. Jamaal Williams, a running back nobody outside of Green Bay had probably heard of before had himself a day. He carried the ball 21 times for 113 yards and a score. Williams averaged a very good 5.4 yards per carry. Tampa also allowed Aaron Jones, on his only carry of the game, mind you, to rush for 20 yards and the game clinching score.
The Bucs cannot allow Ameer Abdullah, Theo Riddick, or whoever they lineup in the backfield to look like Barry Sanders.
Detroit hasn’t had a 100 yard rusher in a game since Thanksgiving of 2013. In that game, Reggie Bush led the way with 117 yards. Nobody wants to be the team that allows the Lions to break that spell, so the Bucs defense better stay disciplined and stay in their gaps and stop the run this week. This will be even more pivotal if the Lions are without starting QB, Matthew Stafford.
Stafford injured his throwing hand last week after it was inadvertently stepped on by Ravens Linebacker, Terrell Suggs. Stafford has been limited in practice so far this week, but if he can’t go the Lions will have to turn to Jake Rudock. Detroit’s offense is pretty much one-dimensional with Stafford under center. If Rudock is forced to start this week, the Bucs would be wise to stack the box and force Rudock to beat them through the air.
Now, let’s focus on some positives for the Buccaneers. Tampa held almost a 2-to-1 advantage in first downs. This was helped by the fact that the Bucs were 9 of 16 on third downs. This showed a good ability to keep the drive alive. They also outgained the Packers through the air 230 yards to 77, while also intercepting Brett Hundley one time.
Against a secondary of Detroit who’s really without a big playmaker other than Darius Slay, this is good news for the Bucs passing game. You would like to see Jameis take advantage of the Lions secondary and put some points on the board.
Last week, Joe Flacco was able to move the ball up and down the field on the Lions defense. Flacco doesn’t have nearly as good of weapons as the Bucs do. Mike Evans, DeSean Jackson and company should be able to take advantage of their match-ups.
Ultimately, this is going to come down to who is under center for the Lions come Sunday afternoon. If it’s Stafford, the pick would lean more towards the Lions, since Stafford always seems to create something out of nothing. He almost led the Lions back last week after being down 20-0. If it’s Rudock, the pick would be more favorable for the Bucs. Rudock has little NFL experience and he would be facing a Bucs team who is home for the first time in almost a month.
In the end, it seems like Stafford is trending in the right direction as far as playing on Sunday. The Lions are fighting for their playoff lives at this point in the season. Tampa on the other hand is playing for pride and looking to play spoiler. Stafford will be too much for the Bucs this week. Golden Tate and Marvin Jones will make their plays as well, but the final score will not be as close as it seems.
Final Score: Lions win 34-24
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