TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS (6-7) VS. DETROIT LIONS (3-9-1)
WHEN:SUNDAY, DECEMBER 15, 1:00 P.M. ET
WHERE: FORD FIELD (64,500)
TELEVISION: FOX (WTVT)
PLAY-BY-PLAY: DICK STOCKTON ANALYST: MARK SCHLERETH
SIDELINE: JEN HALE
BUCS RADIO: 98ROCK, FLAGSHIP STATION (WXTB-97.9 FM)
PLAY-BY-PLAY: GENE DECKERHOFF ANALYST: DAVE MOORE
SIDELINE: T.J. RIVES
PewterReport.com Publisher/Bucs Beat Writer Scott Reynolds
As Tampa Bay tries to make it four straight victories as the team heads to Detroit, this is another game the Buccaneers should win. The Lions are really banged up and are starting third-string quarterback David Blough. As long as the Bucs can contain Lions star receiver Kenny Golladay, Detroit will have a hard time scoring against a Tampa Bay defense that just gave up 28 a week ago to Indianapolis.
The Bucs might have a hard time scoring points too with quarterback Jameis Winston playing with a slightly fractured thumb on his throwing hand, and without the services of Pro Bowl wide receiver Mike Evans, who suffered a pull hamstring last Sunday is out for the rest of the year. With Chris Godwin likely being covered by Pro Bowl cornerback Darius Slay, expect Winston to target wide receiver Breshad Perriman and tight end O.J. Howard more often. And expect the Bucs to really try to run the ball against the Lions’ depleted front four to take some of the pressure off the injured Winston.
This is the kind of game that the old Buccaneers used to lose – on the road against a lesser opponent while playing down to the level of their competition. Let’s see if these truly are the new Buccaneers – the team that went on the road and stomped the Falcons and Jaguars in back-to-back weeks over the past month. I think the team has turned the corner, which is why I’m picking Tampa Bay to win its fourth straight game. In doing so, the Bucs would finish with a 5-3 record on the road, which is quite amazing for a team that was 2-6 at one point in the season.
Reynolds’ Score Prediction: Bucs 26, Lions 20
Reynolds’ Pick-To-Click: ILB Devin White
Reynolds’ Season Record: 5-8
PewterReport.com Editor/Bucs Beat Writer Mark Cook
Good teams beat the bad teams. Right now the Lions are pretty bad. Down to a third string quarterback and missing other key players on both sides off the ball, there is not a lot to cheer for in Motown. At this point these are two teams moving in two directions. Lions head coach Matt Patricia is on the hot seat in Detroit, while Bucs skipper Bruce Arians is on a mission to do something that has rarely been done over the last decade and change – to lead a Bucs football team to a non-losing record.
With Jameis Winston set to start despite a hairline fracture on his throwing hand, Tampa Bay should win this game handily – no pun intended. The question is now, can he finish the game? Re-aggravating the injury could cost him the rest of the season and that would be a blow to the Bucs goal of a .500 or better record. With that said, expect a heavy dose of Winston turning and handing the ball off to Ronald Jones and Peyton Barber. The Lions have struggled to stop the run, particularly as of late, so if the Bucs want to protect Winston they should try and exploit the Lions 23rd ranked run defense.
On our mid-week podcast I predicted Tampa Bay scoring 30 points in a win, but after looking at the right strategy, the hope should be the Bucs defense being able to stop the Lions offense, and the Bucs offense to control the clock with a strong running game. If they happens it will probably be a lower scoring game.
Cook’s Score Prediction: Bucs 20, Lions 10
Cook’s Pick-To-Click: RB Ronald Jones III
Cook’s Season Record: 4-9
PewterReport.com Bucs Beat Writer Trevor Sikkema
|The first phase of turning the page as a franchise is beating the teams you should beat, meaning when you have superior talent you should be able to handle your business. As winners of four of their last five, the Bucs have certainly done that in the second half of the season.
No wide receiver Mike Evans in this one. I would be surprised if we see him at all for any of these final three games of 2019. However, quarterback Jameis Winston was cleared, and with him in the starting lineup we can expect the Bucs to still have the recipe for points. I actually think the game is going to be decently close, though, even if I expect the Bucs to have control for most of it. Winston’s less-than-100-percent status means the offensive game plan will likely feature even more running of the ball than we’ve seen in previous games.
PewterReport.com Bucs Beat Writer Taylor Jenkins
The Bucs will head to Detroit this weekend, looking to extend their season-high win streak of three games against a struggling Lions team.
The Lions are injured all across their front seven, they’re without their starting running back in Kerryon Johnson, they’re down to their third string quarterback, undrafted rookie David Blough, and they haven’t won a game in their past six contests. In short, this is a game that Tampa Bay should absolutely win. We’ve talked endlessly about changing the culture and how the Bucs first must hate to lose and learn to win, well that starts with beating the teams that you should beat. That’s something Tampa Bay continued to struggle with earlier in the season but have turned around as of late with a winning record still very much a possibility.
Detroit has the 30th ranked passing defense, the 23rd ranked rushing defense, averages just 1.2 takeaways per game and less than two sacks per game. Tampa Bay’s high volume offense will likely have no problem moving the ball, even with Jameis Winston’s broken thumb and Mike Evans’ absence, and shouldn’t be too overwhelmed on defense if the Bucs’ secondary can keep star wideout Kenny Golladay in check.
I expect Tampa Bay to escape the frigid north with a win, I don’t expect it to be close and if all goes according to the Bucs’ plan, they’ll return to Tampa with a .500 record after Week 7 for the first time since 2016.
Jenkins’ Score Prediction: Bucs 30, Lions 20
Jenkins’ Pick-To-Click: WR Breshad Perriman
Jenkins’ Season Record: 4-9
PewterReport.com Bucs Beat Writer Matt Matera
As bad as the Bucs are injured with Mike Evans done for the year, Donovan Smith battling a leg injury, and Jameis Winston having a fractured thumb, the Lions are even more injured than that. The Bucs are healthier on the defensive side of the ball and will get to face third string quarterback David Blough, meaning it could be another day where the defense feasts on an opportunity to create turnovers, and maybe even another defensive touchdown. The Lions haven’t scored over 20 points in three games and I don’t get over that again on Sunday, as the Bucs defense reverts back to the success they had against Atlanta and Jacksonville two weeks ago.
Obviously losing Mike Evans for the rest of the season hurts the Bucs but they won’t be entirely depleted. While it may get them a drive or two to get it going, this offense can sleepwalk to a minimum of 23 points the way they’ve been going lately. Chris Godwin is already used to getting double teamed this season, so that won’t be anything new, it’s just a matter of who will step up around him. The Bucs will get production from Breshad Perriman and Justin Watson, but I think it’s O.J. Howard that really picks it up.
The one concern the Bucs should have is whether left tackle Donovan Smith can play. We’ve seen what it looks like when they’ve had to plug Josh Wells in at that spot and it has not been pretty. The Bucs just need to win the battle in the trenches and limit their number of turnovers to win the game. I’m not saying they have to play turnover free football because that just doesn’t happen with Jameis Winston as your quarterback, but they should limit it enough to win the game. Tampa Bay is just a better team, and they’ll show it in a fourth straight victory.
Matera’s Score Prediction: Bucs 27, Lions 20
Matera’s Pick-To-Click: ILB Devin White
Matera’s Season Record: 6-7