The SideLion Report writers give you their take on the upcoming game and predict the final score.
Ross: The Bucs are 8-5, they are 8-0 against teams under .500 and 0-5 against teams with a winning record. The Lions are coming off an impressive win against the Packers and it took a bad snap on a PAT for the Bucs to beat the Redskins last week. I believe this is a good opportunity for the Lions to snap the winless streak on the road.
Josh Freeman is a big and physical quarterback. He is 6’6, 248 pounds and it will be tough for Detroit’s pass rush to bring him down. Freeman has thrown for 17 touchdowns and only thrown 6 interceptions this year. Tampa Bay’s passing offense ranks 22nd, led by rookie Mike Williams who has 7 touchdowns and averages 60 yards per game receiving. The Buccaneers also have a decent running game with LaGarrette Blount (66.7 yds/g), Cadillac Williams (28.5 yds/g), and Josh Freeman (23.2 yds/g).
For the Lions to come away with a win, they need to be able to establish the running game. They did last week with 190 yards rushing and there isn’t a reason why they can’t do it this week. The Bucs rushing defense is ranked 27th allowing 133 yards per game. The third pick in the 2010 NFL Draft, Gerald McCoy (DT), was put on the injured reserve this week. Running the ball effectively will open up the passing game for the Lions. I think this game will be a lot closer than what others think. When I first thought about this game, I picked the Lions to upset the Bucs. However, I don’t think the Bucs are taking the Lions lightly with the playoffs in reach for Tampa Bay. Buccaneers 21, Lions 17
Brian: The Detroit Lions start their first of two final road games to wrap up the season in the nice Florida weather. After coming off an impressive win against a good Green Bay Packers team, the Lions look to keep it going in Tampa Bay Sunday.
At 8-5, and sitting in the middle of the NFC South, I think the Lions have a excellent shot at winning on Sunday. Tampa Bay is a team that has seemed to catch a lot of breaks this season. Of their 8 wins, 5 of them were decided by 3 points or less. Lions 24, Tampa Bay 16
Zac: The Lions need to rush the passer and run the ball. The Lions defense has exceeded expectations and that has kept them in a lot of games. Josh Freeman has played well but he is still a young quarterback and the defense will need to force him into making mistakes. The Bucs offense’s success could be predicated on their game plan in the passing game. The Bears picked the Lions apart by using quick passes to neutralize the pass rush. The Packers were eaten alive when their quarterbacks took deeper drops. The defensive line is the one area of the defense where the Lions have talent AND depth.
The Lions inability to run the ball has hurt them when trying to close out games for wins. Running the ball is as important now as ever since their passing game is a bit of an unknown with the Lions injury situation at quarterback.
Considering the Lions are in the midst of a league record losing streak, I probably shouldn’t pick them to win. I will anyway: Lions 20, Bucs 16
Latif: I think this week’s matchup is really interesting. On one hand, you have a Lions offense that has been battered by injuries. Right Tackle Gosder Cherilus just went on the IR this week. On the other hand, you have the Tampa Bay defense that has lost two key defensive pieces in Aqib Talib and Gerald McCoy in back to back weeks. It will be interesting to see who the Bucs use to cover Calvin Johnson and how successful they are in keeping him contained. If they can’t cover Megatron, then the Bucs defense will be in for a long day.
On defense, the Lions need to get pressure on Josh Freeman, who has had a very solid sophmore season thus far, but he is still far from a polished passer, and will make mistakes under pressure. Tampa does have a makeshift line, so the the Lions front line should have an easier time. The big question whether or not the Lions defensive ends, who range in the 260s can bring down Freeman who has a massive frame at 6-6, 250 lbs.
Overall, I think Tampa Bay at this point is a little overrated. They are 8-5, but all 8 wins have come against teams that are worse than .500. In fact, the Redskins, who they beat last week, had the best record at 5-8 amongst all the teams they have beat so far. This is a golden opportunity for the Lions to both get a win on the road and settle a winning streak for the first time since 2007. Final score: 0-16s: 28, 0-14s: 24.
You’ve heard what we are thinking, what do you say?