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Tampa Bay Buccaneers vs. Tennessee Titans: Game Preview

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Will the extra week allow the Bucs to correct their ways?

Tampa Bay Buccaneers v Tennessee Titans
How will Winston play after the debacle in London?
Photo by Frederick Breedon/Getty Images

The Bucs (2-4) are back in action this week as they travel to Nashville to take on the Tennessee Titans (3-4).

Even though it’s an out-of-conference opponent, this is still a very important game for Tampa Bay. Avoiding a three-game losing streak and a 2-5 record would be ideal, but as we all know, idealism doesn’t exist in the NFL.

Before the season started, many figured this game would feature Jameis Winston v. Marcus Mariota Part Deux, but Mariota is now on the bench while Ryan Tannehill starts at quarterback.

How will the Bucs perform after the bye week? Did Bruce Arians and co. make the necessary corrections to get this team on track? How much improvement will we actually see?

We will find out the answers to those questions and more after kickoff on Sunday.

Overview

  • All-time series record: The Titans lead, 9-2. The Bucs are 2-2 at home and 0-7 on the road.
  • Playoff history: Since these teams are AFC/NFC counterparts, they’ve never met in the postseason, but on two separate occasions, both teams have been one game away from playing each other in the Super Bowl (1999 & 2002).
  • Longest win streak: Tennessee won five straight games from 1989-2003.
  • Largest margin of victory: The Bucs weren’t “Tennessee ready” and lost 42-14 in 2015.
  • 2019 offensive and defensive rankings: Tampa Bay’s offense currently sits at 15th overall (9th pass, 21st run) and the defense is 22nd overall (32nd pass, 1st run). Meanwhile, the Titans hold the 26th overall offense (27th pass, 19th run) and the 8th-ranked defense (10th pass, 13th run).
NFL: OCT 13 Panthers v Buccaneers
How much improvement will we see out of the Bucs’ defense?
Photo by Cliff Welch/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

What To Watch For

  • Bye-week improvement: This is the first bye week under the new staff. How will things shake out?
  • Titans’ defensive front vs. Bucs’ offensive line: This is arguably the best defensive front the Bucs have faced all year.
  • Bucs’ receivers vs. Titans’ secondary: Don’t let the numbers fool you, the Titans have one of the most talented secondaries in the league. Adoree Jackson will miss this game, but Logan Ryan, Kevin Byard, and Malcolm Butler are all above-average to great players.
  • Ryan Tannehill takeover: Will the Bucs bring Tannehill back to earth or will he play like he did against the Chargers?
  • Winston rebound: He’s taken a ton of heat over the last two weeks. It’ll be interesting to see if we get Good Winston or Bad Winston on Sunday.

Impact Players

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

  • QB Jameis Winston: This is obvious, right?
  • WR Mike Evans: With OJ Howard out, the Bucs will need Evans to step it up and make some plays.
  • WR Chris Godwin: Jackson’s absence will create room for one of the receivers to make some plays. Can Godwin take advantage?
  • DL Vita Vea: The Titans’ interior offensive line struggles quite a bit. Should be a big day for Vea.
  • DL/LB Carl Nassib: Tennessee is going to try and run the ball on Sunday. They love to get Derrick Henry going in the outside zone game, so Nassib will be crucial in shutting that down.
  • CB Carlton Davis III: Someone has to stop opposing wide receivers, eventually.
NFL: OCT 13 Panthers v Buccaneers
Mike Evans needs to avoid plays like this drop on Sunday.
Photo by Cliff Welch/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Tennessee Titans

  • QB Ryan Tannehill: Was last week a fluke or did we see the real Tannehill?
  • RB Derrick Henry: His numbers aren’t great, but he’s played really well this year and will be a focal point for the Bucs and Titans.
  • WR Corey Davis: This dude is a matchup nightmare and should find plenty of room to work against the Bucs’ secondary.
  • DL Jeffery Simmons: He saw his first action last week and recorded two TFLs and a sack in just 21 snaps.
  • LB Rashaan Evans: Evans is a missile in the middle of the field and can blow up an opposing team’s running game at any moment.
  • S Kevin Byard: Arguably the best safety in the league. I wonder if Deion Sanders knows he isn’t just a fan by now?

Cool Stats

  • Following Tampa Bay’s Week 7 Bye, Chris Godwin remains tied for the league lead with six touchdown receptions, while ranking second in receiving yards. His six touchdowns through five games set a new franchise record.
  • In the Buccaneers Week 6 game against the Carolina Panthers, Jameis Winston threw his 100th career touchdown pass, becoming just the fifth quarterback in NFL history to throw for 100 career touchdown passes at age 25 or younger.
  • The Buccaneers have scored 173 points through the first six games, the most through six games in team history. The team needs 11 points to tie for the second-most (184 in 2012) and 28 point to tie for the most points through seven games in team history (201 in 2018).
  • Winston has thrown for 1,771 yards through six games. He needs six yards to pass his own mark (1,776 in 2016) for fourth-most, 30 yards to pass Josh Freeman (1,800 in 2012) for third-most, 69 yards to pass Vinny Testaverde (1,839 in 1988) for second-most and 83 yards to pass Winston’s own mark (1,853 in 2017) for the most passing yards through seven games in team history.
  • Cameron Brate has three career games with multiple touchdown receptions. He needs one more to tie Jimmie Giles for the most ever such games by a Buccaneers tight end and tie for the third-most such games in franchise history.

*Stats provided by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers Communications Department.

Los Angeles Chargers v Tennessee Titans
Jeffery Simmons is a true-difference maker on the defensive line.
Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images

Game Outlook

Flip a coin for this one. Despite the 50/50 chance, whomever you pick in relation to the toss will still likely lose.

Both teams still have a ton of question marks and frankly, the combined five wins from both teams have come against average-to-below-average squads. The Bucs’ win against the Panthers in Week 2 was largely due in part to an injured Cam Newton.

The Bucs will have to force the Titans to play undisciplined, create pressure, and will have to force turnovers if they want to win. That’s been the Titans’ Achilles’ heel so far this season. You can say the same for the Titans, but they also have a much more consistent defense to rely on than the Bucs.

Usually I’d roll with the Bucs in this scenario because I’d have confidence that the extra week would allow both the coaches and players to make the necessary adjustments. However, this staff has not impressed me the way I thought they would, therefore, I’m not very confident that much will change in this game.

The Titans get the “W” and the Bucs head back to Tampa Bay at (2-5).