Tampa Bay is currently a 3.5-point underdog via DraftKings Sportsbook. Our staff weighs in with their predictions and Week 14 picks below.
Gil Arcia: A shock for the bay areas
The Bucs offense has not been what anyone has imagined it would be in 2023. I, for one, have been particular hard on them pointing out Tom Brady’s flaws this season as well as the inconsistencies across the rest of the offensive side of the ball. Going up against the league’s best defense this Sunday in the 49ers, it’s easy to say the Buccaneers will be unable to move the football. I’m flipping the script this week. The Bucs will surprise not only the San Francisco bay area but also the Tampa Bay area when Brady throws for two touchdowns and Leonard Fournette and Rachaad White add one score each on the ground for the Bucs’ first 30-plus-point game since Week 4.
James Yarcho: Devin White Dominates
Devin White has stepped up quite a bit over the last few weeks and that won't change this week. It's been since 2018 that Christian McCaffrey rushed for over 100 yards and that was also the last time he had over 100 total yards against the Buccaneers’ defense. In fact, many of you will remember the “Mic’d Up” clip from 2020 when McCaffrey told White he was the best linebacker in the league. White will play a pivotal role in containing McCaffrey who will finish with under 50 total yards in this one while also getting at least one takeaway from quarterback Brock Purdy.
Mike Kiwak: Back below .500
I can’t share Gil’s enthusiasm for a large scoring output. The 49ers defense is dominant, and while every team has off days, the Bucs offense has seen many more of those than this San Fran unit. Could it be close? Absolutely, Tampa’s defense is very good in its own right and they’re playing a rookie seventh round pick, and Tom Brady is still Tom Brady. Unfortunately, secondary injuries are going to make facing San Francisco’s YAC gods very difficult. I predict Deebo Samuel and Brandon Aiyuk both cross 75+ yards from scrimmage and score to outperform Chris Godwin’s six-catch, 100-yard day in a 21-17 loss for the Bucs.
Will Walsh: Bowles author’s the ‘How to make Purdy ugly’ guide.
Two weeks ago when this game was on the schedule the headlines would have been mentor vs. mentee, with Tom Brady pitted against his former backup, Jimmy Garoppolo. The cast has been altered, the script has being rewritten, and now the pressure releases off the quarterback matchup and rests on the shoulders of Todd Bowles. Bowles is going to match wits with one of the best offensive minds in football, but Kyle Shanahan is at a huge disadvantage. One of the 49ers biggest chess pieces has been taken off the board. In his place is a rookie in his first career start, who was just a few mere minutes away from not even being drafted. Bowles has to show his worth as a defensive strategist in a game like this. The Bucs defense needs two turnovers, three sacks, and to get off the field on third downs to give Tampa a chance in this game.
Chris Weingarten: Close, but no cigar
Winning and losing in the NFL usually comes down to which quarterback played the best on that day. Tom Brady has won the majority of games he has played in his 23-year career because he was the best quarterback on the field. This year has been different though. So far, the Bucs have lost to Kenny Pickett/Mitch Trubisky, P.J. Walker, and Jacoby Brissett. I don’t see Brock Purdy outplaying Tom Brady, but I do think the 49ers defense will shut down the Bucs offense. The 49ers run the ball effectively, control the clock, and win a nailbiter, 10-9.
James Hill: The Bucs Defense FINALLY gets some takeaways
The 49ers are one of the toughest teams the Bucs have faced all season with the best defense in the league and an offense that boasts weapons like Christian McCaffrey and Debo Samuel. However, their starting QB is now seventh round pick Brock Purdy after Trey Lance suffered a season ending injury later in the season, and Jimmy Garoppolo suffered a season-ending injury last week. Because of this, I think that this week the Bucs will finally be able to shake the lack of takeaways they’ve had on defense in recent week and will be able to force Purdy to make some mistakes. I think the Buccaneers will finish with at least two takeways on the game and stay competitive against a really good 49ers team.