Tampa Bay Buccaneers (4-5) at Kansas City Chiefs (7-2)
Sunday, November 20, 2016, 1:00 P.M. ET
Arrowhead Stadium (76,416)
Network Television: FOX
Play-By-Play: Kenny Albert Analysts: Daryl Johnson Sideline: Laura Okmin
Bucs Radio: US 103.5, Flagship Station (103.5 FM, 620 AM & 95.3 FM)
Play-By-Play: Gene Deckerhoff Analyst: Dave Moore Sideline: T.J. Rives
Last Game: Tampa Bay Won vs. Chicago, 36-10; Kansas City Won at Carolina, 20-17
The Bucs have an opportunity this Sunday to even their record and come within a game of first place in the NFC South – but a win in loud, hostile Arrowhead won’t come easy. In fact, it would come as an upset.
The Chiefs (7-2), riding a five-game win streak since their bye, have an NFL-leading 13 interceptions on defense and have held opponents to less than 20 points in four of their five straight wins. Bucs coach Dirk Koetter praised their “aggressive” secondary – particularly All-Pro Eric Berry and 2015 Defensive Rookie of the Year, Marcus Peters – saying it’s almost like they have “four wide receivers back there that are also tough tacklers.”
Where there is good coverage, typically you can find a steady pass rush. Linebacker Dee Ford leads the NFL with 10 sacks on Kansas City’s 3-4 defense, which has 18 in total. Jameis Winston and the offense are coming off one of their best performances against the Bears last Sunday, and they’ll look to continue making strides, especially in the run game and pass protection, to replicate that success against a superior team.
Tampa Bay’s defense, which also turned in one of its best games last week, will have to defend the Chiefs 13th ranked offense. Though not as dynamic as their defense, coach Andy Reid knows how to get the most out if his unit. Kansas City’s plug-and-play system at running back – not unlike the Bucs situation – is proof of that. So is the efficiency of Alex Smith (66 percent completion rate and just three INTs) and even backup Nick Foles, who won two games while the former was out with a concussion.
It’s going to be loud at Arrowhead Stadium and the Bucs are going to have to be at their best to pull off a signature victory this Sunday. Read how the Pewter Reporters think the game in Kansas City plays out.
PewterReport.com Publisher & Bucs Beat Writer Scott Reynolds
Tampa Bay travels to Kansas City for its first away game in nearly a month after three straight road games. The Bucs hit the road with a 3-1 record away from Raymond James Stadium this year and are full of confidence after a complete dismantling of the Chicago Bears in a 36-10 victory in Tampa. While the Chiefs have won five straight games, their offense has struggled in the past two games, scoring just eight field goals and one touchdown on offense.
Kicker Cairo Santos has been the main weapon as Nick Foles and Alex Smith, who came back into the starting lineup after a narrow 19-14 win at Jacksonville. The Chiefs defense has been stout, allowing just 31 points in the last two games combined, and scoring a key defensive touchdown by Pro Bowl safety Eric Berry in last week’s come-from-behind, 20-17 win over Carolina. However, those victories have come at a price as cornerbacks Phillip Gaines and Marcus Peters are listed as questionable, as are defensive linemen Jaye Howard and Dontari Poe, in addition to Justin Houston and Derrick Johnson.
Even if all of those Chiefs play, how effective can those banged up players be? If the Bucs bring their “A” game like they did last week they have a chance at pulling off the upset, especially if Kansas City’s offense remains stagnant. Roberto Aguayo kicking in cold conditions is a bit of a concern in what could be a very close game. Tampa Bay’s offense must have balance, and that means Doug Martin needs to quickly round into form and turn in a 100-yard game. That could become problematic as the Bucs’ offensive line is banged up and is having trouble protecting Jameis Winston.
Reynolds’ Score Prediction: Bucs win 20-19
Reynolds’ Pick To Click: TE Cameron Brate
PewterReport.com Editor and Chief & Bucs Beat Writer Mark Cook
How good are the 2016 Tampa Bay Buccaneers? Sunday will tell everyone a lot about where they stack up.
Fact is, the Buccaneers can very well march into Arrowhead and come away with a victory. The Chiefs aren’t unbeatable, but the one thing they don’t, is beat themselves.
Tampa Bay will need to keep their turnovers to a minimum and get a few away from the Chiefs, something opposing defenses have found difficult to do so far this season. Quarterback Jameis Winston has been good with that as of late, and there will be opportunities in the passing game for Mike Evans to have a big game.
The main things the Bucs need to do is run the football. Doug Martin was rusty and largely ineffective last week coming back from injury, but should be poised to have a better game. Uncertainty in the offensive line could derail those plans however, with Kevin Pamphile set to miss his second game in a row with a concussion and center Joe Hawley coming back from injury.
I think the Bucs keep it close, but the veteran presence of Chiefs QB Alex Smith combined with the savvy coaching of Andy Reid wins out in the end. The Bucs defense plays well but gives up a late drive and the Chiefs improve to 8-2.
Cook’s Score Prediction: Chiefs win 23-20
Cook’s Pick To Click: WR Adam Humphries
PewterReport.com Bucs Beat Writer Eric Horchy
It’s late November and the Bucs are preparing for a meaningful football game. That’s a small win in itself.
What Tampa Bay needs, though, is a big win on the field. A big, glowing, statement win over a legit playoff contender. Of the Bucs’ four wins, only one came against a team currently owning a winning record – Week 1 at Atlanta.
Sunday’s game against the 7-2 Kansas City Chiefs qualifies as one of those opportunities. Picking up that corner-turning victory in Arrowhead Stadium, however? Buckle up.
The Chiefs are 4-0 at home this season and 21-7 in raucous Arrowhead since Andy Reid took over as head coach in 2013. On the plus side, Tampa Bay brings a 3-1 road record to Missouri that includes victories in the hostile NFC South environments of Atlanta and Carolina.
If the Bucs want to come back home with their fifth win and a .500 record, keeping their season-long turnover differential from plunging back into the red is crucial. Kansas City leads the league in takeaways (22) and averages fewer than one turnover a game (eight). Flipping the field eight times Week 3 against the New York Jets inflates that takeaway stat a bit, but the Chiefs’ 3-4 defensive front and secondary are loaded with high-end talent. Injury issues may lessen that unit’s ferocity, but the availability of a few players will be unknown until game time. Starting defensive end Jaye Howard is listed as doubtful and probably won’t play, but linebackers Justin Houston and Derrick Johnson, cornerbacks Marcus Peters and Phillip Gaines, and defensive tackle Dontari Poe are all questionable.
If there’s a team that knows a thing or two about having its depth tested because of injury, it’s the Bucs. Relative to a few weeks ago, though, Tampa Bay is as healthy as its been in a while. Running back Doug Martin got a game to knock the rust off last week. Now he needs to look like midseason-form Doug Martin. That will keep quarterback Jameis Winston from having to test Kansas City’s secondary too often with a less-than-stellar set of downfield weapons to target.
When it’s all said and done, underdog Tampa Bay goes toe-to-toe with Kansas City for a full 60 minutes but doesn’t quite get over the hump, losing a one-possession battle.
Horchy’s Score Prediction: Chiefs win 20-16
Horchy’s Pick To Click: MLB Kwon Alexander
PewterReport.com Bucs Beat Writer Zach Shapiro
The Bucs could indeed be progressing, but even the most optimistic fan would have a hard time looking at the remaining schedule and not get a little down on their chances. With the Seahawks, trips to San Diego and Dallas and three division games coming up, Tampa Bay has little room for error if it’s going to make a push. We’ll keep the focus on the present challenge, though, and that’s Kansas City.
The Chiefs haven’t lost a home game this season, but the Bucs have quietly been one of the better road teams, holding a 3-1 record of its own. For Tampa Bay to keep its streak intact, I believe the defensive line will need to pressure Alex Smith and the linebackers will need to cover the short passing game. On offense, it’s about running the ball effectively.
Getting front-four pressure will assist linebackers Kwon Alexander and Lavonte David, who will need to contain Spence Ware, the serviceable replacement for Jamaal Charles (IR). Ware, like many former Andy Reid running backs, is just as, or more effective catching passes as he is running between the tackles. I’m confident the Bucs linebackers will cover the flats.
It’s also critical that Tampa Bay’s safeties limit tight end Travis Kelce, who could see even more action with Jeremy Maclin (likely) sidelined. Chris Conte and Bradley McDougald need to turn in similar performances as last Sunday.
Offensively, I think Doug Martin, at his healthiest since Week 1, will be able to run against the Chiefs 27th ranked unit, which is allowing 121 yards on average. Tampa Bay’s line will also get a boost from Joe Hawley, who’s set to return from a foot injury.
For those reasons, I predict the Bucs will get their biggest win of the season in Kansas City and re-position themselves nicely for a tough road ahead.
Shapiro’s Score Prediction: Bucs win 24-20
Shapiro’s Pick To Click: RB Doug Martin
PewterReport.com Intern Jaret Rojas
Tampa Bay showed their best football of the season last Sunday in their match-up against Chicago. But can they consistently do it is the question from most Bucs fans.
In their week 11 game against Kansas City, the Bucs try to start up another win streak, and also halt the 10-game home winning streak the Chiefs currently hold.
The way Kansas City plays their game is based primarily on fundamentals. Playing small-ball offense and hard-nose defense, the Chiefs lead the league in turnover differentia, only turning the ball over eight times in nine game this season.
The Chiefs are ranked 27th in run defense in 2016, meaning the return of Doug Martin last week could be huge and could be due for a big day if the Bucs offense wants to see any success.
A key for the Chiefs is LB Justin Houston’s return. The sixth-year man out of Georgia has turned into a focal point in the Kansas City defense, and a top-notch NFL linebacker. While Kansas City does rank in the lower third against the run, the return of Houston should help their defense improve on that.
Arrowhead Stadium is widely known for the loud noise Chiefs’ fans deliver. Many Bucs players haven’t faced the kind of noise they’ll be hearing come Sunday. So this week during practice Buccaneers head coach Dirk Koetter said the team piped in artificial crowd noise while the offense was at work, making sure Winston and the whole offense had their communication down.
With positivity and confidence off a big 36-10 victory against Chicago, the Bucs could really make this game close if they play with that aggressive defense and the Bucs offense can make plays, while keeping turnovers to a minimum. The Chiefs are a quality NFL team, and I believe they will show that while playing against the young Bucs.
Rojas ‘Score Prediction: Chiefs win 23-14
Rojas’Pick to Click: RB Doug Martin