If you’ve paid any attention to the NFL this year, then you’ve probably heard of the dumpster fire that is the NFC South. As it stands, the Atlanta Falcons have a hold of the division with a 5-7 record (4-0 in the division). It’s entirely possible that someone could win the NFC South with a 6-10 or 7-9 record.
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers happen to be the worst of that bunch with a 2-10 record.
The Pewter Plank
After going out and hiring head coach Lovie Smith, many expected the Buccaneers to trend upward, and some even projected Smith to win coach of the year before the season began.
Smith is a defensive-minded coach, and he’s done an average-at-best job with the Bucs’ defensive unit. They’re currently 20th in total yards allowed per game, and 18th in defensive efficiency via FootballOutsiders. Despite being equipped with a star-studded front-seven, and guys like Alterraun Verner and Dashon Goldson in the secondary, Tampa Bay’s defense has taken a turn for the worse.
And if you thought the defense was struggling, the offense is even worse.
The Buccaneers are currently 26th in total offense (313.6), 29th in rushing yards per game (83.2), and 17th in passing yards per game (230.3).
Rookie receiver Mike Evans may be the only bright spot on Tampa Bay’s offense right now. He’s making a strong case for offensive rookie of the year, and he’s doing it with Josh McCown and Mike Glennon as his quarterback.
Tampa Bay’s offensive line has given up 38 sacks this year, which is the third most in the NFL. Thanksgiving may be over, but expect the Lions’ defensive line to feast on Tampa’s o-line this Sunday.
OT Anthony Collins – Elbow – Questionable
LB Lavonte David – Hamstring – Questionable
LB Mason Foster – Achilles – Questionable
DT Clinton McDonald – Hamstring – Questionable
TE Brandon Myers – Calf – Questionable
RB Bobby Rainey – Ankle – Questionable
TE Austin Seferian-Jenkins – Back – Questionable
CB Crezdon Butler – Not Injury Related – Probable
C Evan Dietrich-Smith – Illness – Probable
TE Luke Stocker – Concussion – Probable
S Major Wright – Shoulder – Probable
The Detroit Lions are a 10 point favorite via VegasInsider.
Keys To Winning
If the Detroit Lions want to avoid an upset, they’ll have to put Tampa Bay’s offense in third-and-medium/long situations and put pressure on Josh McCown. Mixing up packages with Detroit’s front-seven will be key against the Buccaneers’ struggling o-line.
The Lions will also need to continue to execute on offense, much like they did against the Bears last week. Being more efficient on special teams would help as well.
Strange things happen in the NFL, but I would be thoroughly shocked if this ends up being a close game, let alone Tampa Bay actually pulling through and winning. The Lions still have a lot to play for, and I think Jim Caldwell is too smart to overlook an opponent like the Buccaneers.
The Lions win by three touchdowns and Golden Tate is your player of the game.
Final Score: Lions 31 – Buccaneers 10