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Browns vs Buccaneers: Game Preview

Can Tampa Bay halt their losing streak?

Cleveland Browns v Tampa Bay Buccaneers
The Bucs shouldn’t take the Browns lightly
Photo by Brian Blanco/Getty Images

Tampa Bay hosts the Cleveland Browns this weekend for their first home game in almost a month.

The Bucs are looking to end their three-game losing streak. Usually, the Browns provide a wonderful opportunity for a bounce-back performance, but this Browns team is different.

Outside the beating from the Los Angeles Chargers in Week 6, two of Cleveland’s three losses have been decided by a total of six points.

If they catch the Bucs napping, then it will be anyone’s game.

Overview

  • All-time series: Cleveland leads the all-time regular season series, 6-3, with the Browns winning the most recent contest between the teams, 22-17, in 2014. The Bucs are 2-3 at home and 1-3 on the road.
  • Longest win streak: The Browns won five in a row from 1976-1995.
NFL: Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Atlanta Falcons
Winston has to cut down on the turnovers this week.
Jason Getz-USA TODAY Sports
  • Largest victory: Tampa Bay suffered a 20-0 defeat at the hands of Cleveland in 1983.
  • 2018 offensive and defensive rankings: Tampa Bay is holding strong with the second-best offense in the league (2nd pass, 31st run) and are still ranked 31st in total defense (32nd pass, 5th run). Cleveland currently ranks 20th in total offense (22nd pass, 5th run) and 28th in total defense (20th pass, 29th run).

What to watch for:

  • Baker Mayfield vs. the Bucs: Tampa Bay is an absurd 1-10 against rookie quarterbacks since 2010. That is by far and away the worst record in the league. Can they reverse their recent misfortunes this week?
  • No GMC, No Vinny Curry: Who will step up for the Bucs on the defensive line?
  • Mark Duffner’s defense: Can Duffner improve the porous defense?
  • Duke Johnson Jr. the dual threat: Tampa Bay has been stout against the run, but they are among the worst teams in the league when it comes to defending pass-catching backs.
  • Jameis Winston: He will need to build off of a very solid performance in Atlanta if the Bucs want to win this game.

Impact Players:

Tampa Bay

  • QB Jameis Winston: The heartbeat of the offense.
  • The offensive line: This group will need to come up big against Gregg Williams’ exotic defense.
  • WR Chris Godwin: The second-year player has lived up to expectations so far and will be needed in a big way this weekend.
  • DE Jason Pierre-Paul: With McCoy and Curry out, JPP will be needed more than ever.
  • DT Vita Vea: On this list for the second week in a row, Vea must make an impact this week.
  • MLB Kwon Alexander: With Duffner now the head of the defense, the linebackers should be in a featured role from here on out.
NFL: Pittsburgh Steelers at Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Alexander has to make his presence felt against the Browns.
Douglas DeFelice-USA TODAY Sports

Cleveland

  • QB Baker Mayfield: The talented rookie will need to step up his game this weekend and he has a prime chance to do so.
  • RBs Duke Johnson Jr./Nick Chubb: Carlos Hyde is gone. Cleveland is one of the best teams in the league when it comes to running the football.
  • WR Antonio Callaway: Another rookie that will be leaned upon in this game.
  • DE Myles Garrett: He is a game-wrecker and must be contained this week.
  • LB Jamie Collins Sr.: He can line up anywhere in the front seven.
  • CB Denzel Ward: The fourth overall pick in the 2018 season has been up-and-down, but will be a focal point this week.
NFL: New York Jets at Cleveland Browns
Will the Bucs be able to find success against Ward?
David Dermer-USA TODAY Sports

Cool Stats:

  • The Buccaneers have 1,842 passing yards through the first five games and need 434 more to pass the artists formerly known as the St. Louis Rams (2,275 in 2000) for the most passing yards through six games in NFL history.
  • Brate has caught a touchdown in each of the past three games. With a touchdown reception against Cleveland, he will match the franchise record for consecutive games with a touchdown catch, last accomplished by Chris Godwin earlier this season.
  • Evans has 15 career 100-yard receiving games and needs one more to pass Mark Carrier for the most-such games in team history.
  • Evans has 484 receiving yards through five games. He needs 61 more to pass Vincent Jackson (544 in 2013) for fourth-most, 62 more to pass his own mark from 2016 (545) for third-most, 102 more to pass Vincent Jackson (586 in 2012) for second-most and 127 more to pass Keyshawn Johnson (610 in 2001) for the most receiving yards by a Buccaneers player through the team’s six games of the season. (Note: teammate DeSean Jackson has 501 receiving yards this season).
  • Winston has three career games with at least four touchdown passes, tied for the most in team history. He needs one more to pass Brad Johnson (four from 2001-03) for the most such games in team history.
*stats provided by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers Communications Department

Game Outlook

The Bucs find themselves in dire straights, reeling from a three-game losing streak and facing off against a feisty team looking to rebound from an embarrassing loss.

Tampa Bay is the favorite, but if they don’t find a way to stop the bleeding on defense then they could easily lose this game.

If you’re a betting person, don’t take this game.