The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are trying to avoid losing four straight games for the first time since 2019 and standing in their way are the Houston Texans. A team that went from an unbelievable laughing stock the last few years to one that appears to have found the first Ohio State quarterback to translate into a successful NFL signal caller.
Since the bye week, the Bucs are 0-3 and have been outscored 60-37 over that span. In the first four weeks, the Bucs had outscored their opponents 84-54. The two big differences - inability to score in the red zone and inability to get off the field defensively on third downs. Last week against the Bills, they had allowed Buffalo to convert on six of their first nine third downs before finishing 7-of-13.
Dialing up tons of pressure will be the recipe for success in this one. C.J. Stroud is completing just 47.9% of his passes when under pressure, which would certainly help the defense get off the field on third down. However, Stroud has been fantastic protecting the ball having thrown just one interception which won’t help the Bucs’ league leading turnover differential.
One other big storyline to follow is the homecoming of Mike Evans, who grew up in Galveston, Texas - just under an hour drive away from Houston. In Evans’ only appearance in Houston since being drafted in 2014, he finished with seven catches for 101 yards on 17 targets - not exactly the celebratory return he probably hoped for. That came in the third game of the 2015 season with rookie quarterback Jameis Winston. Now, he can mark Houston as a key stop on his way to extending his historic streak if he were to reach another 1,000 yards this season. In order to reach that mark, he needs to average just 49.3 yards per game the rest of the season.
Given how rarely these two teams have played each other, there isn’t a lot of history there. However, the Texans lead the all-time series 4-1. The Bucs are also looking for their first franchise win ever in Houston - dating all the way back to the Oilers days.
According to DraftKings Sportsbook, the Buccaneers come in as 2.5-point underdogs with an over/under of 40. The Bucs have lost six in a row against the AFC and each of their last five games have hit the under. The Texans have covered the spread in four of their last five.
The Bucs and Texans face off Sunday at NRG Stadium in Houston at 1:00 p.m. ET on CBS. Ian Eagle and Charles Davis will be on the call.