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What could happen, should happen, and will happen: Buccaneers at Lions

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.

NFL: DEC 26 Buccaneers at Lions Photo by Scott W. Grau/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Don't look now but the Buccaneers have just won a playoff game. Baker Mayfield is 1-0 in his Tampa Bay postseason career. Can he make it 2-0?

Here are some things that could, should, and will play out during the game—

Todd Bowles could flex his play calling muscles.

This week will be a ‘show me what ya got’ type of week for Todd Bowles. The Buccaneers’ head coach is riding a hot-streak. In the last two games, his defense has only relinquished nine points. The Buccaneers have actually only surrendered more than 20 points two times since December. In the postseason, you get matched up with better teams and better teams tend to have better coaches. Todd Bowles draws an interesting matchup in Detroit. Lions’ offensive coordinator Ben Johnson is one of the names floating around the hiring cycle this year. Bowles, as the wily veteran, will need to match wits with a young upcoming star in Johnson. The first time around Ben Johnson and the Lions got the better of Bowles and the Bucs. Now, Bowles will have a chance to show that he’s learned from that experience by bringing a defensive strategy the young coordinator is not prepared for, when the stakes couldn’t be higher.

Mike Evans should dominate.

NFC Wild Card Playoffs - Philadelphia Eagles v Tampa Bay Buccaneers Photo by Julio Aguilar/Getty Images

On Monday night, the Buccaneers were able to get a win against the Philadelphia Eagles. Baker Mayfield, in one of his best performances of the season, carried Tampa with three touchdown passes and over 300 yards passing. Perhaps more impressive than his raw stats is the snapshot of how he got there. Mayfield tossed three scores and played a relatively flawless game without any major contributions from his best receiver.

Mike Evans looked out of sync and played poorly. Evans ended the day with 48 yards on three catches, with multiple drops and missed opportunities— A very un-Evans-like outing. To the credit of Dave Canales, Tampa Bay did a good job attempting to feature their best pass catcher going to him early and often.

This week, Tampa should deploy a similar mentality. Target Evans early and give him chances to take over the game. Mike Evans is a streaky player, all season his performances have stuck to a similar pattern, and he is due for a big day. For more information regarding Evans’ 2023 pattern of play, check out when we accurately predicted his two touchdown game against the Jacksonville Jaguars.

The Buccaneers’ offense will need touchdowns, not field goals.

NFC Wild Card Playoffs - Philadelphia Eagles v Tampa Bay Buccaneers Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

Tampa Bay’s offense put on a show last week. Baker Mayfield showed up and showed out— throwing three touchdowns without committing a single turnover. From a big picture view point, there’s nothing to complain about the Buccaneers scored over thirty points and were in control of the game from the opening kickoff. With a closer look, the stats would show while Tampa scored a lot, all of their touchdowns came from outside of the red zone. When the Bucs did manage to get in close they had to settle for field goals. Chase McLaughlin was reliable, going 3/3, however against the Detroit Lions field goals are likely not going to be enough. Calling out last week’s explosive plays might be a nitpick but Tampa Bay hasn’t had the best red zone production this season and in a close game the difference between three and seven (if Tampa’s forced to take short field goals) will be the difference.

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

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