A Film Preview Of The Lions Week Fourteen Matchup Against The Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Catching Up With Tampa Bay’s 2017 Season
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers may have had a bit better of a season than some may have thought, based on their current 4-8 record. Unfortunately for the Bucs, they are playing in arguable the toughest division in football in the NFC South. It is looking quite possible that all three of their divisional foes in the Falcons, Panthers, and Saints could make the playoffs this season.
All three of their divisional games this season have been losses. This has largely been due to how porous their passing defense has been this season. They are currently the 31st worst passing defensive in NFL, averaging just over 263 yards passing yards allowed per game.
However, the Tampa Bay offense had had some nice contributions from its passing game. Their offense looks similar to the Lions in that the passing offense is one of the best in the league in most categories, while being held back by an anemic running game. While the Lions secondary surely will be tested, it will be an easier game for their front seven on the ground. Which could be a key factor given how poorly the unit has done against the run in recent weeks.
Key Matchups To Watch For Against The Buccaneers
Darius Slay vs Mike Evans
The Lions stud cornerback Darius Slay is currently leading the NFL is pro-bowl votes due to his very impressive 2017 campaign. Slay is playing at an elite level and has been shutting down top receivers in the NFL all year. But this matchup offers one of his biggest opponents yet in the 6’5″ receiver for Tampa Bay: Mike Evans.
While this is a down year in terms of production for Evans, he is still a very difficult man to cover and will need to be a priority for the Lions defense. His big frame, very strong hands, and body control, he is one of the best jump ball receivers in the NFL. However, Slay has the athletic traits to run with any receiver in this league and this season he has displayed the technique to use those traits to stop almost every receiver he has faced this season.
Graham Glasgow vs Gerald McCoy
For anyone who enjoys mean, physical battles at the line of scrimmage, this is the matchup for you. Graham Glasgow has looked good this year playing left guard. There have been some mental errors certainly for the second year lineman. But Glasgow plays with a mean streak you love to see from your lineman and it has flashed this season in the running game. With Lions center Travis Swanson battling injury, it looks like it will be Glasgow lining up at center on Sunday facing one of the best defensive tackles in the NFL in Tampa Bay’s Gerald McCoy.
While he is typically more soft spoken off the field, McCoy also plays mean in the trenches. He has not had many problems using his strength to bully offensive lineman in his eight season in the league. McCoy is ahead of Glasgow in development and technique, but with how intensely these two battle, expect there to be some keys plays in this game made by this matchup.
Matthew Stafford vs Jameis Winston
This game could come down to the wire and end up being a battle of who has the ball last. Both quarterbacks lead an offense with an anemic running game, but with many weapons to use in the passing game. Winston has had an up and down year at quarterback. Despite being sacked half the amount of times as Lions passer Matthew Stafford, he has had a lower completion percentage and nearly half the amount of touchdowns.
Stafford has looked much better with less offensive line help than Winston this season. While their interception totals differ by only one, Stafford has done so on 135 more passing attempts. The Lions look to be the advantageous ones in this matchup. If the game comes down to a shootout, Stafford is the more seasoned and trustworthy of the two.
Prediction: Buccaneers Win 24-21
If this game was held in week one, I would be all in favor of Detroit. While both teams are battling injury, the Lions are the ones that have a quarterback with an injured throwing hand and could really hurt the team. Especially with how many lineman have also been out on injury. Winston’s mobility could really hurt the Lions defense as they have struggled to edge contain at all this season as well.
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