QB Derek Carr and Amari Cooper celebrate – Photo by: Getty Images
Tampa Bay Buccaneers (3-3) at Oakland Raiders (5-2)
Sunday, October 30, 1:00 P.M. ET
Raymond James Stadium (65,618)
Network Television: CBS
Play-By-Play: Andrew Catalon Analysts: Steve Beuerlein, Steve Tasker Sideline: Chris Fischer
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 at San Francisco, 34-17; Oakland Won at Jacksonville, 33-16
Set for a rematch of Super Bowl XXXVII, the Bucs enter Week 8 with a 3-3 record and a two-game winning streak.
While Sunday’s matchup between Tampa Bay and Oakland doesn’t quite feature the same battle of January 2003, Tampa Bay is at its hottest this season while the Raiders may have the franchise’s best offense since the days of Rich Gannon and Jerry Rice.
Quarterback Derek Carr comes in with a 97.2-passer rating, having thrown 13 touchdowns to just three interceptions while leading Oakland to a 5-2 start. And if Carr’s only as good as the company he keeps, then look for the third-year pro to continue to thrive. At his disposal is one of the NFL’s best receiving duos in Amari Cooper and Michael Crabtree, both of whom rank in the Top 20 in yards. In short, Sunday will be a major test for the Bucs’ secondary.
With an interception in each of the last two games, the unit has shown promise of coming around – much like the rest of the defense the past two weeks, albeit against one-win teams. Helping the secondary’s case should be the return of Robert Ayers, at least on a limited basis, this week. It’s been said that a secondary’s best friend is a pass rush.
Offensively, numbers suggest Tampa Bay could throw the ball. After playing the league’s 32nd ranked run-defense in San Fran – and piling 250 on the ground – the Bucs now face the 32nd ranked pass-defense of Oakland, which is allowing over 300 yards on average through the air.
Earlier in the week, Koetter said he wanted to re-establish something that’s been missing in Tampa Bay for nearly a decade: home-field advantage. A win this Sunday – one that would snap a four-game home skid and set up an NFC South matchup for first place next Thursday – would be a good way to start. Read whether or not the Pewter Reporters envision that scenario.
PewterReport.com Publisher & Bucs Beat Writer Scott Reynolds
The Raiders’ high-powered offense presents a different challenge for the Bucs than the 49ers’ feeble offense did a week ago. Derek Carr is a much more accurate and deadly passer, and he has better and more explosive weapons in Amari Cooper and Michael Crabtree, who are both on pace to hit 1,000 yards this season. Westbrook is a big, crafty veteran that is deadly in the red zone, evidenced by a team-high six touchdown catches. Cornerback Brent Grimes will have his hands full. Cooper is a smooth, dynamic playmaker that had his way against Bucs rookie cornerback Vernon Hargreaves III in college when he played for Alabama and Hargreaves played for Florida. Hargreaves wants to change history.
But what makes Oakland dangerous is the balance it brings offensively. In a return to Tampa Bay, former Bucs left tackle Donald Penn and the Raiders’ mammoth offensive line that opens holes for three capable backs in DeAndre Washington, Latavius Murray and Jalen Richards. At 6-foot-2, 230 pounds, Murray is the banger around the goal line. All three can catch the ball, too, which means linebackers Kwon Alexander and Lavonte David must tackle well in space and be assignment sound.
Oakland’s defense is much more than just speed rushers Khalil Mack and Bruce Irvin. The secondary has size and playmaking ability. Rookie safety Karl Joseph and veteran Reggie Nelson have combined for six takeaways and are active in run support given the struggles Oakland has stopping the run upfront. Six-foot-3, 220-pound cornerback will give Mike Evans a big, physical test, and 6-foot-1, 205-pound cornerback David Amerson also has good ball skills on the other side. Bucs quarterback Jameis Winston needs to be strategic and accurate with his throw or the Raiders secondary will capitalize.
Tampa Bay has a chance to get above .500 for the first time since Week 1 and that’s not lost on the players. They are highly motivated, and as long as they stick to the script, which means a heavy dose of Jacquizz Rodgers and Peyton Barber to establish the ground game and set up Winston’s play-action passing to Evans and tight end Cameron Brate, the Bucs have a fair shot at winning this game at home against another young, up-and-coming team.
Reynolds Score Prediction: Bucs win 31-27
Pick to click: RB Jacquizz Rodgers
PewterReport.com Editor in Chief & Bucs Beat Writer Mark Cook
Are the Bucs for real? Are they a legitimate threat to get into the playoff conversation? While there are still a number of games left after the Raiders leave town late Sunday afternoon, this game should be a good indication on where they stack up. Oakland is a team that is basically one year ahead of the Bucs. They got their quarterback a year earlier, and while there were some bumps, Derek Carr is showing the league why Oakland drafted him then added some talent at WR with Amari Cooper.
There are some favorable match ups in this game that lean towards Tampa Bay. Oakland’s defense gives up yards, through the air and on the ground. The Bucs have found a recipe for success the last two weeks and there is no reason to think they will change their game plan – pound the defense with Jacquizz Rodgers, then take some shots with Jameis Winston.
The Raiders hold a big advantage offensively versus the Bucs front four it would appear on paper. With one of the best offensive lines in the league, and the Bucs not at 100 percent on the line, getting to Carr will be a tough task. Mike Smith knows that, and will try and look for creative ways to slow down the passing attack of Oakland. Beware of the blitz however, as the Raiders can burn you if you don’t get there.
I expect this to be a back-and-forth game and it could come down to the final possession. Unfortunately with the struggles of Roberto Aguayo, this makes me very nervous. The team who has the ball last wins, and I am going with the Bucs 31-30 on a late 53-yard Aguayo field goal. Somehow the struggling former FSU star gets one to go down the middle.
Cook’s Score Prediction: Bucs win 31-30
Cook’s Pick to Click: Brent Grimes
PewterReport.com Bucs Beat Writer Eric Horchy
The Bucs are riding high after going out west and thumping the San Francisco 49ers. The win marked the team’s second straight and got Tampa Bay back to .500, so there is plenty to feel good about.
Going on a long road trip and getting a win is nice, but it was against a bad Niners team that still managed to make Tampa Bay look bad by going up 14-0 after one quarter of play.
This week presents a more difficult challenge with the Oakland Raiders in town. Both are young, up-and-coming teams trying to take the next step in their overall development.
Shortly after the win in San Francisco, Bucs head coach Dirk Koetter told reporters he wants Raymond James Stadium rocking Sunday afternoon against Oakland and home field advantage could be even more impactful than usual. The Raiders are on the back end of back-to-back games in the state of Florida. Oakland picked up a 33-16 win at woeful Jacksonville last week and chose to stay in-state all week to prepare for the Bucs.
Fans who do show up Sunday could be in store for a high-scoring shootout.
Quarterback Jameis Winston and the rest of the Bucs offense has to be licking their chops after a week of film study watching one of the NFL’s worst-performing defenses get carved up all year. Oakland ranks last in yards allowed per game (430.4), last in passing yards allowed per game (302.1) and 28th in rushing yards allowed per game (128.3).
Tampa Bay is going to crack the 30-point mark for the fourth time this season, but the challenge will be keeping Oakland from doing the same. Raiders quarterback Derek Carr is a rising star and he’s surrounded by threatening weapons like receivers Amari Cooper and Michael Crabtree and running backs Latavius Murray and DeAndre Washington.
Carr’s only been sacked seven times through seven games, so don’t expect the Bucs’ beleaguered defensive line to do much when rushing four. Defensive tackle Gerald McCoy should be good to go for the second straight week, but fellow tackle Clinton McDonald will miss another game. The return of defensive end Robert Ayers Jr. would be huge, but his availability won’t be known until Sunday. To generate pressure on Carr, Bucs defensive coordinator Mike Smith will have to dial up a decent amount of blitzes throughout the day.
The Bucs haven’t won at home since last December 6 against Atlanta and 2013 was the last time three-game winning streak. Time to put that home slump to bed and keep the wins coming.
Horchy’s Score Prediction: Bucs win 37-33
Horchy’s Pick To Click: WR Adam Humphries
PewterReport.com Bucs Beat Writer Zach Shapiro
Though Dirk Koetter has made clear of his plan to establish the run, it would seem this Sunday, against the NFL’s 32nd ranked pass-defense, presents an opportunity for the Bucs to throw the ball.
The last time Mike Evans faced a secondary with former Redskin and current Raider cornerback David Amerson – Washington, 2014 – the then-rookie receiver went for 209 yards and two scores. That’s not to say it was all on Amerson, but anything that could be seen as added advantage for Evans should be taken seriously. The third-year receiver is on fire this year. If Russell Shepard and Adam Humphries can continue to excel in their roles, and Jameis Winston can avoid throwing interceptions, then I think the Bucs will have a productive day through the air.
On the contrary, the last time Bucs cornerback Vernon Hargreaves III faced off against Oakland’s Amari Cooper – Florida-Alabama, 2014 – the Raiders receiver put on an Evans-like, 200-plus yard performance. So I guess it kind of balances out in that respect.
Stopping either offense could be difficult Sunday, but I’ll give the edge to the Bucs defensive line, which has four more sacks than Oakland despite a multitude of injuries. With Robert Ayers (at least on a limited basis), I expect the Bucs to generate just enough of a push against the Raiders elite offensive line to limit Carr and the passing game and come up with a critical interception or two.
Shapiro’s Score Prediction: Bucs win 31-24
Shapiro’s Pick To Click: DE Will Gholston
Zach is entering his 3rd year covering the Tampa Bay Buccaneers as a writer for PewterReport.com. Since 2014, he's handled a large part of the beat reporting responsibilities at PR, attending all media gatherings and publishing and promoting content daily. Zach is a native of Sarasota, FL, and a graduate of the University of Tampa. He has also covered high school football for the Tampa Tribune and the NFL for Pro Player Insiders.
Contact him at: firstname.lastname@example.org
I love the analysis and insight you guys bring about the Bucs. But there are always grammatical errors and typos in your articles. Michael Westbrook? Come on it’s Crabtree. Re-read things before you post, it’s like the first things we are taught in school
Wow……Everybody on board with the Buc’s. I don’t see them stopping Raiders offense. High scoring game but Raiders by a touchdown. Of course I hope I am WRONG!!!!
It’s W according to PR. I’m not counting any chickens yet. Pass and run block for the BUCS is tantamount. On the flip side our pass rush needs to show up. Koetter needs to call the best game he has called this year. Smith needs to keep the Raiders guessing with defensive stunts and different looks.
Still, I am calling a BUCS win here. They seem to start to get it.
GO BUCS WHIP THIER ASS
Bucs have a very winnable game here. This is a good Raiders team. We have do all the obvious things very well. No turnovers on offense (Winston be careful!), no dumb penalties, run the ball, stop the run, and get some pressure on third downs.
I like the Bucs but we have to play good 60 minutes both sides of the ball. Don’t think Rainders travel well to east coast.
Sorry Fredster- Raiders 4-0 when traveling east this year. They have beaten New Orleans, Baltimore, Tennessee and Jacksonville.
My gosh they are 5-2! I too want a win, but without a pass rush we will lose. I hope we can put the pressure on the QB. Go Bucs!
I am going with the team with the better QB. Raiders 34-17.
Just in case anybody wondered about the tattoo on Derek Carr’s right wrist, it is the CHI-RHO symbol for Christ or Christianity.
I’m impressed mac. You know stuff.
I sure hope the Bucs win, but I sure would not bet any money one way or another. I think that the Bucs will win because they are at home.
Go Bucs !!!
Got to be weird for the Raiders, they’re like on a week long road trip. Can’t believe the NFL made them play back, to back Fla road games. Will it help they stayed here all week? Hope their minds on getting home, and not the game.
I got out my “Beat Oakland” tee shirt that I wore at the Superbowl in San Diego to wear for today’s game. Not sure yet if I’ll wear the Superbowl Champions hat yet. January 26, 2003 was a great experience. A repeat of that game would be fantastic.
Looks like the Pewter Reporters see this as a high scoring contest with the mighty Bucs squeaking by at the end. With the Raiders prolific passing attack I suspect Koettter may resort to a game of keep away with an emphasis on running the ball and low risk passing. That may limit the scoring on both sides.
With the Raider’s behemoth O-line protecting Carr, our speed rushers Noah Spence and Howard Jones might be the answer to getting making him uncomfortable with GMC in his face.
I already know there will be an onslaught of old Raider fans who still think that Gothic look is fashionable. At the Superbowl before the game I made a point to track down the Raider fan who dresses up with the spikes coming out of his shoulder pads to get a photo with him. He was a doofus. Certainly not who his alter ego was portraying. One thing I did admire about the Raider fans was how so many of them wore old school player jerseys. One in particular was my former classmate at UT, John “The Tooz” Matuszak. RIP big guy.
This game will go a long way in determining if the perky Bucs recent success makes them “real and spectacular” or still needing an enhancement in the 2017 Draft.
Represent Scubog! HC Jack Del Rio has called for the Raider Nation to come on out to RJS!
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