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What could happen, should happen, and will happen: Buccaneers at 49ers

In this series, we’ll break down different scenarios that could, should, and will happen before the Tampa Bay Buccaneers get a chance to play them out.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers v San Francisco 49ers Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images

Last week Tampa Bay finally got back to winning. The team notched an impressive 20-6 victory against Derrick Henry and the Tennessee Titans. This week, Tampa Bay will have another difficult running back to contend with. Much like Derrick Henry, Christian McCaffrey is one of the league’s best. McCaffrey won’t be the only top-flight running back in the matchup though, which brings us to what could happen—

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers could have the back with better numbers when the game clock hits triple zeros.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers v San Francisco 49ers Photo by Cooper Neill/Getty Images

Christian McCaffrey is held in the highest regard by most around the league. His versatility and consistent ability to find the end zone have him on the cusp of MVP consideration. Unknown to many is the fact that in most receiving categories, for running backs, Rachaad White has numbers very comparable to Christian McCaffrey. McCaffrey, of course, has all the hoopla and team success to far overshadow any of the output White has showcased this season— still, in 2023, Christian McCaffrey has 38 catches— White actually has 35. While McCaffrey’s gotten 47 targets to pull in those 38 catches, Tampa Bay has only thrown Rachaad White 37 passes. White’s production on those 35 receptions— 326 yards, good for second-best in the league (among running backs). McCaffrey has given the 49ers offense 339 yards out of the backfield (best among backs).

Christian McCaffrey has been the more all around dynamic player in 2023, however Rachaad White’s receiving numbers stack up very favorably. White is quietly amidst a breakout campaign for Tampa Bay and could outshine McCaffrey in this head-to-head matchup.

Tampa Bay should worry about their tackling.

The San Francisco 49ers are not an average NFL offense. They are elite. One of the things San Francisco does best is find a multitude of different ways get their players the ball. Kyle Shanahan creatively gets his athletes in space and let’s them be athletes. Paired up against an offense like that the Buccaneers' defense needs to be keen on tackling. When the ball finds Deebo Samuel, Christian McCaffrey, or George Kittle, tackling becomes paramount. As significant underdogs, the Bucs don’t have many paths to winning this week, but all of them involve good tackling. Tampa Bay’s defense cannot allow 4-5 yard plays to become 10-15 yards gains. For Tampa Bay, tackling has been an issue at times this season, that cannot be the case Sunday.

The Buccaneers will turn pundit’s heads like owls, if they can manage an upset.

Tennessee Titans v Tampa Bay Buccaneers Photo by Julio Aguilar/Getty Images

If the Tampa Bay Buccaneers can find a way to win this game, they will be the talk of sports television Monday. When the season first started, Baker Mayfield had Tampa Bay shocking the Vikings, then leading a convincing win over the Chicago Bears, and the Buccaneers were a topic of discussion. The media wants to embrace the storyline of the 2023 Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Baker Mayfield’s journey as the team’s quarterback, some of high-profile stars from Tampa’s Super Bowl run, combined with the team’s emerging youth (players like Rachaad White or Calijah Kancey), the Buccaneers are built to be a good script, the team just needs to provide some excitement on Sundays to catapult themselves back into that light. A win against a Super Bowl favorite like the San Francisco 49ers, in a late-window game, is the exact way the Tampa Bay Buccaneers turn heads and get themselves back into the mainstream discussion.

What do you think of our list? Do you agree? No? What are some things you think could happen, should happen, and will happen this week?

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