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Buccaneers 2016 season preview: Battle of the up-and-comers

Tampa Bay Buccaneers v Oakland Raiders Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

Previewing the Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ 2016 season, game by game. Today: the Oakland Raiders in week eight.

Bucs’ all-time record vs. Raiders: 3-6

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers don’t have much of a history playing against the Oakland Raiders, except for one rather notable game: Super Bowl XXXVII. That crushing win signaled the start of a long and steep decline for the Raiders, and a slower and more up-and-down decline for the Bucs. Now, though, both teams are on their way back: both have young, promising quarterbacks, a good coaching staff, and a lot of talent across the board.

Right now, a game between a 7-9 and a 6-10 team doesn’t look all that interesting, but that could change by mid-season. It wouldn’t be surprising for this to be a matchup between two division leaders, or at least two teams competing heavily for the division lead. It will also be a matchup between 2015’s first overall pick Jameis Winston, and 2014’s second-round pick Derek Carr — a player the Bucs could have picked the year before, but didn’t, despite (or maybe because of) having an offensive coordinator who was very close to him in college.

The last time these two teams met up, Doug Martin had a field day. It was 2012, the Dougernaut’s rookie season, and he racked up 251 rushing yards and four rushing touchdown in what was probably his best game, ever. That won’t be as easy this year, as the Raiders’ defense has been overhauled and much improved since then. Oakland has racked up a decent amount of talent over the years, surprisingly.

So this game may be a surprisingly important indicator of where these two teams stand. Are they up and coming, or still struggling? And which one of these teams will be further ahead this season? The fact that this game is played in Tampa may give the Bucs the edge.