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Tampa Bay Buccaneers vs Cincinnati Bengals: Week 15 Preview

Tampa Bay looks to get back to .500 against one of the hottest teams in football - led by one of the best quarterbacks

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NFL: New Orleans Saints at Tampa Bay Buccaneers Nathan Ray Seebeck-USA TODAY Sports

This matchup couldn’t come at a worse time for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. They are decimated with injuries and coming off easily their worst loss of the season. On the other side of the field will be the red hot Cincinnati Bengals who have won five in a row and seven of their last eight.

This will be the first - and likely the only - matchup between Joe Burrow and Tom Brady. Burrow, who is having an MVP caliber season, has already done amazing things in Cincinnati and is looking to get the Bengals back to the Super Bowl for the second consecutive season and get the Bengals their first ever Lombardi.

Brady, on the other hand, had arguably his worst performance of the season in his homecoming to the San Francisco area where he had 100 friends and family in attendance. Brady has just 17 touchdown passes on the year. His career low is 18 way back in 2001 when he started just fourteen games. He’s also coming off his first multi-interception game since week nine of 2021 when he threw two interceptions against the then Washington Football Team.

The Bengals have become one of the most formidable teams in the league with the seventh ranked scoring offense (25.8 ppg) and the eleventh ranked scoring defense (20.4 ppg) whereas the Bucs are the ninth ranked scoring defense (19.5 ppg) and the abysmal 28th ranked scoring offense (17.2 ppg). The Bucs have exceeded twenty points a paltry five times this season - winning three of the five - and haven’t reached that plateau since returning from Germany.

Injuries will play a large part in how this game ends up, with Vita Vea, Tristan Wirfs, Antoine Winfield Jr., Mike Edwards, Jamel Dean, Sean Murphy-Bunting, Joe Tryon-Shoyinka, and Tom Brady all dealing with injuries. It seems likely that Dean, Vea, Winfield, Edwards, and Wirfs all miss this game which will certainly open up the vertical passing attack from Burrow and his favorite weapons Ja’Marr Chase and Tee Higgins.

On top of that, Vea is their best run stuffer and with him out of the lineup both Joe Mixon and Samaje Perine could be in for big days against a defense that just let Christain McCaffrey run for 119 yards and a touchdown on fourteen carries.

The Buccaneers lead the all-time series between the two teams with a record of 7-5, but have lost two in a row. Most recently, the Bengals won 37-34 at Paul Brown Stadium in 2018 when Jameis Winston had four first half interceptions before Ryan Fitzpatrick came in and brought the Bucs all the way back from a 27-9 halftime deficit.

Prior to those two Bengals wins, the Bucs had won six in a row from 1995-2010. The Bucs are only 2-2 at home against Cincinnati while the other eight games have taken place away from Raymond James or the Old Sombrero. Tom Brady has lost just once in his career to the Bengals in his eight games going head-to-head with them while throwing for 17 touchdowns and just three interceptions.

Mike Evans - who has certainly seen his struggles throughout the season, especially over the last few weeks - is 195 yards away from hitting 1,000 for the ninth consecutive season to begin his career, which would extend his NFL record. It will be interesting to see whether it’s Evans or Chris Godwin that the Bengals line cornerback Eli Apple up against as Apple is the weaker of Cincinnati’s defensive backfield.

According to DraftKings Sportsbook, the Buccaneers are 3.5-point home underdogs with an over/under of 44. In the last four games where the Bucs were home underdogs, they’ve hit the under while the Bengals have covered in ten of their last eleven.

The Bucs and Bengals will kickoff at 4:25 p.m. ET inside Raymond James Stadium. The game will be broadcast on CBS with Jim Nantz, Tony Romo, and Tracy Wolfson on the call.

For more on this and all things Tampa Bay Buccaneers check out James Yarcho and David Harrison on the Locked On Bucs Podcast!