TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS (3-6) VS. SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS (2-8)
SUNDAY, NOVEMBER 25, 1:00 P.M. ET
RAYMOND JAMES STADIUM (65,618)
NETWORK TELEVISION: FOX
PLAY-BY-PLAY: KENNY ALBERT ANALYST: RONDE BARBER SIDELINE: MEGAN OLIVI
BUCS RADIO: 98ROCK, FLAGSHIP STATION (WXTB-97.9 FM)
PLAY-BY-PLAY: GENE DECKERHOFF ANALYST: DAVE MOORE SIDELINE: T.J. RIVES
LAST GAME: TAMPA BAY LOST AT N.Y. GIANTS, 38-35; SAN FRANCISCO LOST VS. N.Y. GIANTS, 27-23 (WEEK 10)
Publisher & Bucs Beat Writer Scott Reynolds
This may be the last winnable game on Tampa Bay’s 2018 schedule. The 49ers are 2-8 and are playing competitive football, but the worst-rated team left is 4-7 Atlanta, which beat the Bucs 34-29 earlier in the season – at that was with Calvin Ridley and Mohamed Sanu only playing in the first half. Tampa Bay’s defense plays much better at home, allowing about 17 fewer points per game. That’s important because the 49ers have put up 57 points in their last two games under new quarterback Nick Mullens, who beat Oakland 34-3 in his NFL debut a few weeks ago.
Mullens has completed 70.5 percent of his passes for 512 yards with four touchdowns and two interceptions in two starts. He doesn’t have a lot of weapons to work with, notably tight end George Kittle, who has 50 catches for 775 yards and three touchdowns. He’s a mismatch for Tampa Bay’s struggling defense that will be without linebacker Lavonte David and free safety Justin Evans.
The other big threat is running back Matt Breida, who has rushed for 632 yards and three touchdowns while averaging 5.6 yards per carry. He will also pose a match-up problem for the Bucs’ linebacker corps, which is full of backups and underwhelmed against the Giants last week. Tampa Bay’s inexperienced secondary can’t overlook veteran wide receivers Marquise Goodwin, who is San Francisco’s deep threat, and Pierre Garcon, either. Forcing a takeaway, which hasn’t happened on defense since Week 3, would be a godsend for the Bucs – but I’ll believe it when I see it.
Jameis Winston will get the start at quarterback after coming off the bench and leading the Bucs to four straight touchdowns in a 38-35 loss at New York last week. For Winston it’s simple. He needs to go out and execute the plays and avoid turnovers. He doesn’t need to prove anything to anybody who doubted him. He needs to focus on the current play and the next play, keep the chains moving and scoring touchdowns. Expect slot receiver Adam Humphries and tight end Cameron Brate, who is filling in for O.J. Howard, to be heavily used this week, and Mike Evans will get his fair share of targets, too.
San Francisco is coming off a bye week and is 1-2 in the last three games, with the two losses coming by a combined total of six points. I expect this game to be close. Should the Bucs win this game? Yes. Can this win this game? Certainly. But will they win this game? Not if they keep getting a minus-turnover margin each week.
Reynolds’ Score Prediction: 49ers 27, Buccaneers 26
Reynolds’ Pick-To-Click: TE Cam Brate
PewterReport.com Editor and Bucs Beat Writer Mark Cook
When the Bucs lost to the Redskins a couple weeks back I said it is very possible they don’t win another game. And they very well may not. But if they are going to, this is the week. And honestly the last game they really come close to matching up well with an opponent.
The 49ers were the darling pick to make some noise in their division before the start of the season, and rightfully so, after finishing the 2017 season strong. But a season-ending injury to quarterback Jimmy Garappolo derailed things early and the team has struggled since. That doesn’t mean the 49ers are as bad as their 2-8 record indicates however. They still have a tTop 10 defense and a strong ground game.
For whatever the reason, the Bucs defense plays much better at home — like 17 points per game better. The Bucs offense, still No. 1 in the NFL in yards per game, should be able to score more points that the 49ers offense. And if Tampa Bay’s trend of playing better defense at home continues, this should equate to a fairly easy Bucs win. Right? Of course who could have predicted the Bucs only managing three points with over 500 yards last time they played at Raymond James?
This team is a mess for the most part, but things all come together for at least one more game this season against the Niners. Jameis Winston is back under center and will play well, Peyton Barber will have some success and the Buc pull away late in the game to notch their fourth win of the season. The Bucs will also generate a turnover, something they haven’t done in forever. The odds are with the team on this one. Eventually a running back has to fumble a quarterback exchange for a tipped ball at the line of scrimmage has to find itself in the hands of a Buccaneer player.
Cook’s Score Prediction: Buccaneers 31, 49ers 23
Cook’s Pick-To-Click: WR Mike Evans
PewterReport.com Bucs Beat Reporter Trevor Sikkema
For what seems like the last month, each game I have said that “if the Bucs lose this game, I won’t pick them again.” I said that last week, and I meant it that time.
The recipe for beating the 49ers is the same as it was for the Carolina Panthers and the New York Giants — both teams the Buccaneers fell to. In order to stop the offense that has rewarded this San Francisco team the No. 1 overall draft pick ( I am rolling my eyes), to this point, you have to be sound on defense and tackle consistently. The Bucs are not and do not. The only thing that should give them hope in that category is the fact that those previous two games were on the road and this one is at home.
On the other side of the ball, as is really the only thing that matters, at this point, quarterback Jameis Winston has to score the ball; that’s all. They have to score, early and often. They have to win the toss, take the ball first for goodness sake, march down their own home field, score the ball, hand it to the ref as if to say, “This is Raymond James Stadium. This is what we do here. Get used to it.”
But I don’t think it will happen. Not enough, at least. Not in 2018. The Bucs defense is down too many key players, and the marriage between offensive coaching and offensive players seems to be completely off.
For that, I cannot pick this team again.
Sikkema’s Score Prediction: 49ers 34, Buccaneers 31
Sikkema’s Pick-To-Click: Bucs QB Jameis Winston
PewterReport.com Intern Matt Matera
There can’t be a team that has less turnovers on defense then the Bucs, is there? Surprisingly, the 49ers have one less than the Bucs’ six on the season, that’s just incredible to think. So you have two teams that don’t take the ball away, and a team in the Bucs that turns it over all the time. What gives out in the end of this one?
Even at a bleak 2-8 record, the 49ers have played competitively, sparked by Nick Mullens getting the start at quarterback. Mullens’ favorite player growing up was Brett Favre, who he plays like with that gunslinger mentality. George Kittle is his number one target, and as we’ve seen from the Bucs defense all year, Kittle should have no problem getting wide open. There’s no one on this roster that you can confidently say can limit Kittle’s production. It was also recently found out that Kittle is been called “Stone Cold” George Kittle, named after Stone Cold Steve Austin, which is just awesome.
Jameis Winston played great in relief of Ryan Fitzpatrick last Sunday against the Giants. What will pop out at you is four touchdown led drives, two passing touchdowns and 199 yards. Yet what wasn’t talked about is the fact that Winston fumbled a ball into the end zone that was luckily covered by Mike Evans, and also had another pass go right into the hands of a Giants defender that was dropped on another scoring drive. Winston didn’t look like someone who has learned from his lack of ball security lessons.
On a positive spin, Winston was also helped out a ton from an excellent running game by Peyton Barber. It was a game in which Barber was fed the ball more than he usually gets a chance to, that paid dividends in the production of the offense. If they want to protect Jameis Winston from causing turnovers, it would be best to keep pounding the rock with Barber. The Bucs have only had one game all season where they had zero or one turnover, in fact, they’ve been increasing their turnover numbers, having four turnovers a piece in their last two games, and 10 over the last three.
The 49ers are the perfect team for the Bucs to stop that streak against since they can’t get turnovers either. Unfortunately, I just don’t think the Bucs can get out of their own way on either side of the ball. The Bucs move a step closer to getting a better draft pick.
Matera’s Score Prediction: 49ers 30, Bucs 27
Matera’s Pick-To-Click: RB Peyton Barber