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Buccaneers vs. Lions: Three key matchups on defense

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The Buccaneers have to win these three key matchups to beat the Lions.

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Tim Fuller-USA TODAY Sports

CB Johnthan Banks vs WR Calvin Johnson

It's not exactly clear who will be matching up with Calvin Johnson, and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers are likely to use some form of bracket coverage when they can, but Johnthan Banks is the best physical match for Johnson: mostly, he's just taller than Alterraun Verner. And Johnson's height is a massive reason why he's so successful.

But Megatron can't really be stopped, he can only be slowed down -- and even then at the cost of coverage elsewhere. If Banks can hang with Megatron without necessitating bracket coverage, that would be a massive win for the Bucs -- but a very unlikely one.

CB Alterraun Verner vs WR Golden Tate

To bracket Calvin Johnson, the Bucs also have to stop Golden Tate, who lines up all over the field. He's actually Detroit's leading receiver and a surprising downfield threat, given his size. He also has a penchant for making spectacular plays in ridiculous fashion, something that stood out in college and was a reason for many Bucs fans to want him on the team over Arrelious Benn. Ahem.

Verner's the best match for Tate's lateral agility, but the Lions receiver is also likely to face slot cornerback Leonard Johnson and that could turn into a genuine problem. Johnson has been bad this season and has shown no signs of recovery in recent weeks, unlike his fellow teammates. If that's the matchup we're going to see, the Bucs are in trouble.

DT Akeem Spence vs C Dominic Raiola

Spence was actually very good last week in replacing Clinton McDonald, and he'll probably have to do the same thing this week. And he'll go up against a dirty, veteran center who's not afraid to use some tricks to get ahead. That's going to be a tough matchup for Spence, who has to get some consistent pressure to make Stafford uncomfortable and get him to make his normal mistakes -- he has a few dumb throws per game under pressure, and those are the key to stopping that passing game as a whole.

You'll notice I haven't talked much about stopping the running game, mostly because the Lions, well, can't run the ball. So there's that.

Editor's Note: FanDuel is hosting a Bucs Nation league this week. It's $5 to join. League starts Sunday 1 PM ET and ends on Monday. Here's the link.