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NFL: Kansas City Chiefs at Las Vegas Raiders

Tampa Bay Buccaneers vs. Kansas City Chiefs: Game Preview

Can the Bucs notch a huge win over Patrick Mahomes and the rest of the defending Super Bowl champs?

Patrick Mahomes is the best quarterback in the NFL.
| Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers (7-4) are looking for a big win before the bye week and it just so happens that the defending Super Bowl champion Kansas City Chiefs (9-1) are coming to town this week.

You can’t ask for a better opportunity to make a big statement after a tough loss on national television. Will the Bucs get it done?


Tampa Bay Buccaneers v Las Vegas Raiders
Chris Godwin is one of the best receivers after the catch in the NFL.
Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images

What To Watch For

  • Tampa Bay’s screen game: The Chiefs have a pretty aggressive defense. They have the sixth-highest blitz rate in the NFL and Steve Spagnuolo loves it when his guys fly around the field. The Bucs may be without two starting offensive linemen in Ali Marpet and Donovan Smith, which is obviously not ideal. A good way to offset the Chiefs’ tenacity on defense is with the screen game and the Bucs are one of the league’s better team in this regard. Don’t be surprised if we see the Bucs run a lot of screens —and effective ones at that— on Sunday.
  • Tampa Bay’s pass rush vs. the Chiefs’ offensive line: Speaking of missing offensive linemen, the Chiefs will be missing three starters of their own in Week 12. Laurent Duvernay-Tardiff was the first NFL player to opt out of the 2020 season, while Kelechi Osemele and Mitchell Schwartz are out due to injury. The Bucs’ front seven should be able to make some plays in this game.
  • The left side of Tampa Bay’s offensive line: At the time of publication, Smith is still a game-time decision and Marpet is still questionable. A.Q. Shipley is done for the year, so that likely means Ryan Jensen will slide back to center, but Marpet can also play center if he’s available. Whatever the Bucs decide to do will go a long way in deciding what happens against the league’s eighth-best team in terms of creating pressure.
  • The Bucs’ receivers vs. the KC secondary: The Chiefs have a solid secondary, but it hasn’t seen a receiver corps with the type of talent the Bucs possess. Buffalo is probably the best group of wideouts the Chiefs have seen in 2020. Tampa Bay has the weapons to give this secondary fits and there are a lot of good matchups to be had. All bets are off if Brady has time to throw.
  • Safeties: Both teams use their safeties in a variety of ways and it’s a lot of fun to watch. Antoine Winfield Jr. is used much like the Chiefs use Tyrann Mathieu in the idea that Mathieu plays slot, box, deep safety, etc. Mathieu will be on Godwin a lot as well as Gronk and that’s a big deal. Jamel Dean’s absence means that AWjr will play the slot more often and Mike Edwards will come in to play deep safety. Edwards has played well this year, so there isn’t too much reason to be alarmed. Regardless, the back end of both defenses are going to have a big say in what happens today.

Bonus WTWF: Ronald Jones II and the Buc’s run game. The Chiefs are very vulnerable against the run. They are 22nd in adjusted line yards, 30th in power success rate, and 31st in stuff rate, per Football Outsiders. They also give up the sixth-most yards on the ground, allow the eighth-highest YPC, and give up the fifth-most rushing first downs per game on the seventh-most carries per game. Playing keep away with Mahomes is also an excellent strategy. This could be a big day for RoJo and co.

Impact Players

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

  • QB Tom Brady: This is the ultimate Brady game and he’s coming off his worst performance of the season. Something tells me he is going to be motivated just a little bit more for this one.
  • RB Ronald Jones II: It’s clear that this guy is the best back on the team. Hopefully the coaching staff involves him in a major way.
  • WR Chris Godwin: The third-year wideout has yet to break 100 yards this year but I have a strong feeling that happens this week.
  • DL William Gholston: He is one of the most consistent players on defense and his ability to rush, play the run, and play contain every now and then are going to be huge this week.
  • LB Lavonte David: Just like Brady, this is the ultimate LVD game. He is going to be ready and dialed in. It should be another Sunday where we hear his name called about 12-15 times.
  • S Antoine Winfield Jr.: Jamel Dean’s absence means Winfield will be moving into the slot (for the most part) when the Bucs deploy their nickel package. How Todd Bowles takes advantage of this will be fun to watch.
Kansas City Chiefs v Las Vegas Raiders
Tyreek Hill is a ridiculously good receiver.
Photo by Chris Unger/Getty Images

Kansas City Chiefs

  • QB Patrick Mahomes: This kid is simply amazing. If anyone has a shot at surpassing Brady as the GOAT when it’s all said and done - it’s Mahomes.
  • TE Travis Kelce: The Bucs are pretty bad about defending tight ends and Kelce is one of the league’s best. Will Tampa Bay break its trend against Kelce?
  • WR Tyreek Hill: Cheetah is arguably the most explosive player in the game and his style of play matches perfectly with how Mahomes plays the game.
  • DL Chris Jones: A lot of people talk about Frank Clark, but Jones is the engine of the Chiefs’ pass rush. Tampa Bay has to find a way to slow him down.
  • CB Charvarius Ward: The Chiefs’ best defensive back will probably be matched up with Antonio Brown for the most part, which will obviously be a top-notch battle to watch.
  • S Tyrann Mathieu: How Kansas City uses Mathieu is always fun to monitor. He can play single-high, slot, box, or wherever else you want him to play.

Cool Stats

  • Brady is 4-0 all-time against defending Super Bowl champions. It’s almost like we discover a new Brady record each week.
  • Through Week 11, Jones ranks fifth in the NFL with a career-high 754 rushing yards on the season. Jones needs 246 more rushing yards to become Tampa Bay’s first 1,000-yard rusher since Doug Martin in 2015.
  • The Chiefs haven’t beaten the Bucs since 1993. The teams have met five times since the 27-3 win. Tampa Bay has won all five and four of the five games were decided by seven points or less.
*Stat No. 1 provided by Greg Auman of The Athletic and stat No. 2 provided by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers Communications Department
Los Angeles Rams v Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Can Antoine Winfield Jr. and the Bucs’ secondary step up to its biggest challenge of the year?
Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

Game Outlook

I know the overall mood has been damp since the Monday night game, however, there is a lot to like about this game if you’re a Bucs fan.

It all starts with Brady. We’ve seen in the past how he plays after a loss and now we’ve seen what it looks like from the front row. There is definitely something different about him when he plays and it’s noticeable. That’s going to go a long way in this matchup.

Abstract reasoning aside, the Bucs match up pretty well with the Chiefs. I think Marpet will play, but I’m not sure about Smith. Regardless, if Marpet comes back then the Bucs should be able to run the ball against this defense, which will not only help open up the passing game, but it will keep the Chiefs offense off of the field. That’s easily a win-win for the Bucs. Plus, Tampa Bay’s receiving corps should be able to win a lot of matchups. I’ll be very surprised —as long as one of Marpet/Smith play— if Tampa Bay doesn’t score over 28 points in this game.

And on defense, you have a stout front going against a solid but exploitable offensive front. Mahomes’ ability to escape the pocket hides a lot of the offensive line’s deficiencies and Reid’s game planning helps, too. There is room to worry when it comes about the Bucs’ corners and the Chiefs’ receivers, but I have faith that Bowles and his guys will be prepared and ready to at least slow the offense down. Because we all know you can’t stop it.

Overall, I like the Bucs to win this game. We’ve seen this team come out focused and ready to go after a loss - that’s been its one consistent mark. There are enough matchups to exploit and I think they will not only do that, but go all-out in terms of game plan and coaching. Throw the sink at the Chiefs. Give ‘em everything ya got.

The Bucs will do just enough to get it done and head into the bye week at 8-4.

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