The Pewter Report staff breaks down the Bucs hosting Detroit on Sunday at Raymond James and share our thoughts on how the games goes and what the final score will be.

TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS (4-8) VS. DETROIT LIONS (6-6)
SUNDAY, DECEMBER 10, 1:00 P.M. ET
RAYMOND JAMES STADIUM
NETWORK TELEVISION: FOX
PLAY-BY-PLAY: KENNY ALBERT ANALYST: RONDE BARBER SIDELINE: KRISTINA PINK
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 GREEN BAY, 26-20 (OT); DETROIT LOST AT BALTIMORE, 44-20

PewterReport.com Publisher and Bucs Beat Writer Scott Reynolds
I got close in last week’s prediction, suggesting that the Packers would win, 30-19. The actual score was a 26-20 defeat in overtime at Green Bay. I even picked a tight end as the Pick To Click. I just picked the wrong one – O.J. Howard instead of Cameron Brate. I should have known better. Winston and Brate have a great rapport, especially in the red zone.

I think DeSean Jackson and Mike Evans have the chance to have a big game this week whenever they are matched up with cornerback Nevin Lawson. Darius Slay is Detroit’s best cornerback and will likely draw Evans in coverage. Whoever is on Lawson, who does not have an interception in four seasons in the league, needs to be targeted by Jameis Winston.

The Bucs offense sees the return of Doug Martin this week, but is that even necessary with the way Peyton Barber has been running the ball in his absence? Barber had two short-yardage touchdowns in the team’s 34-20 loss at Atlanta and then erupted for a career-high 102 yards rushing with four catches for 40 yards at Green Bay last week. Martin, who is a Dirk Koetter favorite, hasn’t had a 100-yard game over two years, will likely start and Barber’s role will likely be reduced this week, which is a shame if it happens. It’s time to turn the page on Martin, who probably won’t be in Tampa Bay next year and get Barber, who is really a third-string running back, more experience.

Running the ball will be tough sledding against Detroit with massive defensive tackles Haloti Ngata and A’Shawn Robinson. That’s 662 pounds of beef that will make running up the middle behind undersized center Joe Hawley and undersized guard Evan Smith challenging. From a pass protection standpoint, the key matchup won’t be left tackle Donovan Smith versus defensive end Ezekiel Ansah. It’s actually going to be Detroit left end Anthony Zettel, whom I loved coming out of Notre Dame, going against Kevin Pamphile, who is expected to play right tackle this week. Zettel has 6.5 sacks and a forced fumble to lead the Lions.

Detroit has a big offensive line, but like Tampa Bay, struggles to open up holes in the running game. Ameer Abdullah is banged up and only has 332 yards on the year to lead the Lions. Theo Riddick is a good pass-catching running back coming out of the backfield and will test the Bucs’ linebackers in coverage.

The Lions offense centers around quarterback Matthew Stafford and his ability to throw the ball to receivers Golden Tate and Marvin Jones, Jr., and tight end Eric Ebron. Stafford has a right hand injury, which could affect his ability to throw the ball. He’s listed as questionable, but is expected to play. Expect Detroit to target second-year cornerback Ryan Smith in coverage. Having defensive end Robert Ayers back should help Tampa Bay’s pass rush, as getting pressure on Stafford is critical for success this week.

In last week’s 2-Point Conversion, I predicted a Bucs win. I don’t really know why they’ll beat a 6-6 Lions team that is fighting for a playoff spot, but Tampa Bay does play better at home defensively, and that’s the key.
Reynolds’ Score Prediction: Buccaneers 23, Lions 20
Reynolds’ Pick To Click: WR DeSean Jackson

PewterReport.com Editor and Bucs Beat Writer Mark Cook
This team just seems to find ways to break the hearts of their fans. Last it was a decent offensive game and a pretty dominating performance from the defense. Only to see it all fall apart in overtime. Fluke fumbles. Bad penalties. Questionable coaching decisions. All of these things were reasons the Bucs lost 26-20 to Green Bay last Sunday. And if those types of miscues continue, fans and the organization are staring down the barrel of a 4-12 season.

Good news is it has to get better. Right? Well we will see on Sunday as the Lions come to town. I would like to say I would feel better if Matthew Stafford is unavailable to go with a hand injury, but this Bucs team tends to have a knack for making backups look like Tom Brady. So scratch that thought.

The Lions are an okay football team, with an outstanding quarterback. Other than that looking at their roster it is rather ho-hum. Not too much to get excited about or even fear for that matter. Despite a 4-8 record, I will maintain the Bucs are the better team. I do see it being somewhat close unless the Bucs defense can find a pass rush somehow. Maybe the return of Robert Ayers sparks something. Maybe Stafford’s hand injury causes him to take some sacks that maybe he normally wouldn’t. Maybe the ball just bounces the Bucs way and the refs don’t call ridiculous penalties at the worst possible time. A lot of maybes, but if so, I see this game going in the Bucs favor.

Doug Martin returns, but I can’t imagine Peyton Barber getting the bulk of the carries on Sunday. It has been two full years since Martin rushed for 100 yards or more, and both Barber and Jacquizz Rodgers have done it since Martin’s last big game. I understand the whole, you don’t lose your job to injury thing, but at this point it should clearly be based on performance and I am not sure how Koetter and his staff can keep Barber on the sideline. Unless Martin rips off a 75-yard TD on his first carry. Of course I could also win the lottery tonight or get a call from Kate Upton that she is ready to date me.

We talked earlier this season about must-win games. Well this is another. No, not because of the playoff race, as the Bucs are out of that, but instead it is a must win for the coaching staff. It is a must win for the organization. Because if they don’t win this one, where does another win all season come from? Atlanta, Carolina, New Orleans? Yeah. I don’t think so either. While this game if won doesn’t mean they win another either, it at least keeps hope live that this team hasn’t mailed it in.

So the Bucs win this game as the two teams trade touchdowns late and then the “Irish assassin” ( I just made that up) who is also our featured guest at Ford’s Garage on Monday night (shameless plug) kicks a 51 yarder in windy conditions to give the Bucs the win on the final play.
Cook’s Score Prediction: Bucs win 27-24
Cook’s Pick to Click: Pat Murray

PewterReport.com Beat Writer Trevor Sikkema
Earlier this week we took a look at where Buccaneers quarterback Jameis Winston was on his path to living up to the No. 1 pick compared to some of the other No. 1 pick quarterbacks over the last 10 years. It was determined by stats, results, projections and availability that Winston was more ahead of the curve than Sam Bradford, but not quite as up to speed as the man Winston will be facing off against this Sunday, Matthew Stafford.

Detroit’s season has been as season of streaks. They started the year off 3-1, gaining wins over the Cardinals, the Giants and even the Vikings. But, after that they suffered three losses in a row, then won two in a row, and now are again on a two-game losing streak coming into their match up with Tampa Bay.
As for the Bucs, most reading this know their season. It has been a disappointment for the men in red and pewter, but these last four games – this one in particular – could be determining factors in which coaches and even players are retained for next year.
With the Atlanta Falcons beating the New Orleans Saints on Thursday, that put the NFC South division title at a close three-team race. Unfortunately for the Buccaneers, they play all three of those teams down the stretch after this Lions game. That means this game against Detroit might be the best chance they have to increase their win total before the year’s end, knowing that all three NFC South teams they’ll face will be giving it their all for that top spot and a guaranteed playoff seed.
Staring running back Doug Martin will be back this week, but even if he starts the game, it’s tough to predict where the Bucs will go with their running game. Winston will be making his second start in a row coming back from his shoulder injury, and after playing well in Green Bay last week (minus the costly fumble) Winston should maintain a level of play that could get them a win. But, the real telling tale of this game will be on the Bucs defensive side. The Bucs defense has been bad at on the road, but for as disappointing as they’ve been away from Raymond James Stadium, they’ve been equally as impressive in it.
How this Bucs defense handles Matthew Stafford and a diverse Lions offense will be the determining factor.
Sikkema’s Score Prediction Lions Win 24-20
Sikkema’s Pick to Click: LB Lavonte David

 

 

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About the Author: Mark Cook

Mark Cook currently is the director of editorial content and Bucs beat writer and has written for PewterReport.com since 2011. Cook has followed the Buccaneers since 1977 when he first began watching football with his Dad and is fond of the 1979 Bucs team that came within 10 points of going to a Super Bowl. His favorite Bucs game is still the 1979 divisional playoff win 24-17 over the Eagles. In his spare time Cook enjoys playing guitar, fishing, the beach and family time.Cook is a native of Pinecrest in Eastern Hillsborough County and has written for numerous publications including the Tampa Tribune, In the Field and Ya'll Magazine. Cook can be reached at [email protected]
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surferdudes
4 years ago

Martin shouldn’t lose his starting job to injury, he should lose it because he is no longer the best back on the roster. Got to hand it to dirk, if you’re going to go down, might as well be it in flames. Martin will not be on the roster next season because Koetter, and Licht won’t be making that decision, thank God. Bucs should win, but if they lose the real question is do Fire Koetter now, and spare him the embarrassment of hearing the Gruden cheers next Monday?

Ja'crispy
Ja'crispy
4 years ago

This is a winnable game. and were at home. Bucs win a close one 23-21.

Bold prediction bucs score TD on special teams. Return a kickoff or punt to the house.

Horse
Horse
4 years ago

You would think with Stafford thumb injury we would blitz and play man to man coverage. I have no confidence in Mike Smith doing much of anything different.
You would think with two massive DT’s and our small OL, Koetter would make some adjustments; I believe he will as running up the middle isn’t going to work. I hope Koetter calls for short/middle passes for Winston based on windy conditions.
Buc’s 29- Lions 27. Must win for coaching staff! We’re a better team despite the record.
go Buc! Get this one!

Bucnut2
Bucnut2
Reply to  Horse
4 years ago

Agree with you on all points Horse. I feel for these coaches and would like to see them get a win. It’s been a tough year for them. They are really nice, classy people. I am hoping for their sake they get a win.

SCLOBERNOCKER
SCLOBERNOCKER
Reply to  Horse
4 years ago

Im sure theres a few toss sweeps in the game plan! :D

Bucnut2
Bucnut2
4 years ago

I like the Bucs in this one. I think the defense will shine(they play MUCH better at home) and cover a mediocre offensive effort. Unlike Scott, I don’t see the wideouts having a big day. The Bucs have not proven they can properly utilize this talented core of receivers and I don’t see that changing tomorrow. I see both tight ends enjoying nice days, our defense forces a couple of turnovers and Jamies has an average day and turns it over at least once. Bucs win!!! Bucs Win!!! Bucs Win!!!

mark2001
mark2001
4 years ago

Here is my take. We almost always have trouble with Detroit, for whatever reason. I believe Detroit and Green Bay are right about par with each other now. So if Stafford hasn’t recovered from his injury and plays on par with what Hundley did from a passing perspective last week, we can certainly win this one. However…If Stafford is healed and is on target in the passing game, we are in big trouble, and Detroit will likely win this game. I think we will have a pretty good idea by the end of the first quarter which way the wind… Read more »

Ja'crispy
Ja'crispy
4 years ago

If we press on man coverage we win. If we play some soft 8-10 yards off the line of scrimmage for the majority of the game we lose.

scubog
scubog
4 years ago

I just haven’t been as immersed in Bucs football this season as I have in the past 40+ years. Of course the vast majority of seasons have been disappointing, but this year apathy is starting to set in to the point that I’m almost just going through the motions out of habit. Perhaps my Buc Fever has started to wane. Too bad the Stick Carriers movement was such a short-lived phenomenon. I was looking forward to some excitement being generated by the fandom. I’m pretty sure my decline of the Bucs being an important part of my life is being… Read more »

Wadeless
Wadeless
4 years ago

We should sit Winston the rest of the way or until this line starts to play better. Getting him killed in the last 4 games of a meaningless season won’t help us next year. In fact, having him play with the bad OL will likely only retard his progression even more. Until we get an OL, this team will be inconsistent at best. I would spend 3 picks in next year’s draft on OL. The rest on Dline, secondary and RB.

Naplesfan
Naplesfan
4 years ago

I have no idea who will win today. If the Bucs win today, it’s likely to be the last win this season with three almost certain divisional losses coming up.

chefboho
chefboho
4 years ago

Well not that we have al these comments coming out the Jameis and koetter aren’t on good terms because Jameis said they didn’t think treat his injury right and that he offense is too predictable. If that’s the case, this is damning for koetter. Most of us already know how predictable this offense has become and when you have reporters coming out and saying that many of the assistants on other teams have said that we’ve had the easiest offense to game plan for, that’s no bueno. Hard for Jameis and this team to be successful when everyone knows what… Read more »

scubog
scubog
Reply to  chefboho
4 years ago

I can usually get a good hint between pass and run plays by the personnel groupings.