Tampa Bay is undefeated, since Thanksgiving. Right now, the Buccaneers are the definition of ‘peaking at the right time.’ Fans hear analysts overuse the phrase each NFL season, but this year it is truly the Buccaneers who embody it.
Playing a team in the playoff hunt, for the third consecutive week, Tampa Bay’s momentum will be tested. Here are some things that could, should, and will play out during the game—
Tampa Bay’s defense could return to form.
The Buccaneers’ defenders have been working a little bit of a Jekyll and Hyde act this season. The team’s defense has been sabotaged by injuries, however, even high-paid, big-name contributors have found themselves in the doghouse amongst Bucs’ fans.
The consistent inconsistency is the part that has been maddening. Todd Bowles’ unit was billed to be the group built as the strength of the team and at times they have played well enough to be Tampa’s backbone. The difficulty is, as many times as they have been success’ ignition, they have been failure’s light.
This week could be the boost Tampa Bay’s defense needs. The Jaguars are not in a good place. Down the stretch, they have begun to fall apart. Jacksonville hasn’t celebrated victory since November. Trevor Lawrence has been in concussion protocol all week and will be questionable for the game (though reports have leaned towards him playing). Even if he is able to suit up for the Jaguars, Lawrence has not been putting a reliable product on the field, during the team’s three-game skid. Whether the Bucs go toe to toe with a backup quarterback or an underperforming Trevor Lawrence— who has not had a normal work week, missing practices due the NFL’s concussion protocol— Tampa Bay’s defense could return to form this week.
Mike Evans should be due.
Buccaneers’ wide receiver Mike Evans is a Hall of Fame talent, however, the star pass catcher is streaky. Throughout his career, Evans has always been the kind of player who rides hot or cold at different times throughout a season. This year, the streakiness of Evans’ game has actually been fairly consistent. Evans hasn’t had any consecutive 100-yard performances— The receiver has only had back to back games of 80 or more yards once. Since the season’s start, Evans has consistently produced one good/great game (80 yards or more, with a score) out of every three he has played.
In week two, Mike Evans hauled in his season-high 171 yards, which included a trip to the endzone.
In Tampa’s sixth game, Evans tallied a score and 82 yards against the Atlanta Falcons.
Evans exploded against the Tennessee Titans in the Buccaneers’ ninth game— 143 yards and a touchdown, on six catches.
Another three games, another century-mark scoring performance for Evans. In a hellacious rain, He carved the Carolina Panthers to pieces— recording 163 yards and his tenth touchdown of the season.
In his previous two outings, Evans has just 65 yards combined. If his pattern of play continues as it has all season, to this point, fans should expect Evans to post big numbers against the Jaguars.
The Buccaneers will be fighting to finish the week with a winning record.
This is obvious (The Tampa Bay Buccaneers sit at 7-7), but that doesn’t mean it’s not noteworthy. Even though Tampa Bay got off to a 2-0 start and was even a 3-1 team early in the season, the team struggled after their bye week. They went from first place in the NFC South to an afterthought, falling all the way to 4-7. After a loss to the Indianapolis Colts (their seventh and most recent defeat), the Bucs found their groove. Tampa Bay has rattled off three-straight victories to make it to this point.
8-7 is not going to get the Buccaneers near home field advantage or even sniffing a postseason bye week, but it is very impressive that a group coming from 4-7 not all that long ago will be playing for an opportunity to stand at 8-7 by Sunday evening.
Do you agree with our list? No? What are some things you think could happen, should happen, and will happen this week?
For more Bucs coverage check us out here: