The Texans are the perfect test for the Buccaneers, who have won their last four games and five of their last six. Houston is currently in a battle with the Tennessee Titans for first place in the AFC South and have beaten the Chiefs, Patriots, and aforementioned Titans - who were widely considered one of the hottest teams in the league before losing to the Texans.
Tampa Bay isn’t winning its division, but it has a chance to deal Houston a major blow to its title hopes when these two get together in Raymond James Stadium.
- All-time series record: Houston leads the all-time series with a 3-1 record.
- Longest win streak: The Texans’ current three-game win streak (2007-2015) is the longest in series history. Tampa Bay has a chance to snap that streak this weekend.
- Largest margin of victory: Houston smashed the Bucs by 28 points, 37-9, back in 2011.
- 2019 offensive and defensive rankings: Tampa Bay has the 3rd-ranked offense (1st pass, t-27th run) and the 15th-ranked defense (30th pass, 1st run). The Texans currently own the 7th-ranked offense (11th pass, 7th run) and the 28th-ranked defense (28th pass, 19th run).
What To Watch For
- Winston without weapons: There will be no Mike Evans, no Chris Godwin and no Scotty Miller to throw to. Donovan Smith will likely miss his second straight game. Can Winston overcome the missing talent?
- Tampa Bay’s secondary vs. Houston’s receivers: Another big test for Tampa Bay’s young secondary will give us an idea of how much this position group has really improved.
- Deshaun Watson vs. Tampa Bay’s defensive front: If you don’t know, Watson is spectacular outside of the pocket. Containing him may be the most important task for Tampa Bay.
- The return of Vernon Hargreaves III: The Bucs’ outcast returns to his former home. How awesome would it be to see Jameis burn him deep?
- O.J. Howard’s involvment: Winston said he told his tight ends to expect the ball earlier in the week. Will the Bucs game plan around their talented tight end?
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
- QB Jameis Winston: Boy, the Bucs will need him more than ever on Saturday.
- The running backs: It’s easy to see why the running game will be a crucial component to a successful day.
- TE O.J. Howard: Winston needs someone to throw the ball to and Howard is definitely the best option.
- MLB Devin White: He will probably be responsible for spying Watson, which will be one of the most important assignments of the game.
- CB Jamel Dean: Someone is going to have to contain Hopkins.
- S Mike Edwards: Jordan Whitehead is on IR, so Edwards needs to step up and fill the void.
- QB Deshaun Watson: This kid is so much fun to watch and will be a superstar for years to com.
- WR DeAndre Hopkins: If you don’t know about Nuk, then I’m just sorry. That’s it.
- WR Will Fuller V: When healthy, he is a game changer. His speed will destroy any defense.
- LB Zach Cunningham: He’s having the best season of his career and trust me, you’ll hear his name quite often on Saturday.
- LB Whitney Mercilus: Like Lavonte David, Mercilus is one of the more under-appreciated players in the league.
- CB Vernon Hargreaves III: He. he. he. he. I had to, sorry!
- Shaquil Barrett leads the NFL with 16.5 sacks through Week 15 of the 2019 NFL season. His 16.5 sacks are tied for the most in a single season by any Buccaneers player in team history. Along with sacks, Barrett also is tied for the league lead with 31 quarterback hits and tied for second with 16 tackles for loss. His six forced fumbles are also tied for the league lead.
- Jameis Winston set new franchise records for both passing yards (4,573) and passing touchdowns (30) this season. In Weeks 14-15, he became the first quarterback in NFL history with 450+ passing yards in consecutive games. He also has five games with 375+ passing yards in 2019, joining Peyton Manning (6 in 2013) and Drew Brees (5 in 2013) as the only quarterbacks in league history with five or more such games in a single season.
- Tampa Bay has totaled at least 475 yards in each of the past two games. With 475 or more yards against Houston, it would mark the first time in NFL history that a team has had three consecutive games with at least 475 yards of offense.
- The Bucs have scored at least 35 points in each of the past two games. With 35 or more point against Houston, it would mark the first time in franchise history that the team has had three consecutive games with at least 35 points.
- The Buccaneers have scored 49 touchdowns this season. The team needs one more for the most touchdowns in a season in team history.
I want to pick the Bucs to win this game. I really do. I think if they had their full arsenal of weapons, then they could get the job done. The Texans’ defense isn’t very good, at all, so the Bucs should have some success on offense despite the limitations.
But alas, I think Houston will be too much on offense. Sure, the Bucs can create some havoc in the pass rush department, but I’m still not convinced this secondary is ready to take on a receiving corps of this ilk. The trio of Hopkins, Fuller V, and Kenny Stills is going to be very, very tough to handle.
It’ll be all about mistakes in this one. If the Bucs can keep it clean in regards to penalties and turnovers, then they will have a shot to win this game, but if they don’t - then expect a long Saturday.
Deshaun Watson does his thing and the Texans get the victory.