Divisional Round: Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Detroit Lions

Divisional Round: Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Detroit Lions

In the third of four games in the NFL Divisional Round, we get what should be another ugly NFC game sandwiched between two great AFC matchups. I’m not being bias against the NFC, but you have to look at the Texans vs. Ravens, and the Bills vs. Chiefs as the top two games of the weekend, right? I’m assuming that about 85% of NFL fans are expecting the 49ers to shoot down the Packers, and for the Lions to maul the Buccaneers.

Let’s be honest, the Philadelphia Eagles were a broken team, and I don’t just mean A.J. Brown’s knee and Jalen Hurts’ finger. Philly looked more like they were playing a preseason game than a postseason game. Their defensive backs didn’t want to tackle or make a stop when they needed to, they looked slow with no energy…and that’s just not what the Bucs are going to see against Detroit. This is going to be a wake-up call game for a Bucs team that maybe shouldn’t even have made the playoffs. Let’s take a downfield read and analyze this game.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers (10-8):

The Buccaneers are a cute story this year. Baker Mayfield was exiled from Cleveland, as the Browns do what the Browns do best…churn and burn quarterbacks. Mayfield landed in Carolina for a stint before getting replaced by Sam Darnold, who’s the backup in San Fran now. Then, Baker got traded to the Rams to play a few games for L.A. after their starting QB, Matt Stafford, went down with a season-ending injury. Now Mayfield is in Tampa “replacing” Tom Brady. Ok. Considering that Baker had Chris Godwin and Mike Evans (one of the best WR duos in the league) to throw to, he should have put up way better numbers. Baker finished with 4,044 passing yards (9), and 28 TDs (7), but only completed 64.3% of his passes (26) with a QBR of 54.4 (18). The most unfortunate part of the Buccaneers 224 passing yards per game (17) is that it’s the BEST part of their offense.

Running Back Rachaad White led Tampa with 990 rushing yards (14) and 6 rushing touchdowns (T19) on an average of 3.6 yards per carry and 58.2 yards per game. The Bucs finished the year with 89 rushing yards per game, which is dead last in the NFL. How did they EVEN make the playoffs?! Wide Receiver, Chris Godwin led the team with 89 receptions (19) and had 1,024 receiving yards (23), but only two TDs. Mike Evans brought in 79 receptions (T24) for 1,255 yards (9) and 13 TDs (T1) for an average of 15.9 yards per catch (10).0 Tampa Bay sure is going to miss Evans next year, as he is in the last year of his contract with no sign of coming back. Mayfield’s main target against Philly last weekend was Tight End, Cade Otton, who was relatively quiet throughout the regular season catching 47 passes for 455 yards and two touchdowns. The Eagles didn’t feel like covering him though, so it was kind of an easy decision for Baker. Offensively, Tampa is the worst team in the playoffs in total yards per game (313) and in points scored per game (20.5).

Defensively it doesn’t get much better for the Bucs. During the regular season, they gave up an average of 344 yards per game (23), and 249 passing yards per game (29). That’s the worst out of the remaining playoff teams. Amazingly enough they finished fifth in rushing yards allowed per game (95.5), and seventh in points allowed per game (7). Linebacker, Yaya Diaby leads the Bucs with only 7.5 sacks, while Safety Antoine Winfield Jr is right behind him with six sacks. Winfield also leads the team with three interceptions, which the Bucs had a total of 13 through the regular season (T17). A bright spot for this defense was that they were tied for second in fumble recoveries (13). They’ll need all the turnovers they can force if they want to keep up with the Lions.

Detroit Lions (13-5):

The Lions were impressive last week in their Wild Card matchup, getting their first playoff win in over thirty years against the Los Angeles Rams. I don’t think they could have imagined getting a better Divisional Round matchup than against the Buccaneers. Quarterback Jared Goff has easily been a Top 10 QB this year. Goff has completed 67.3% of his passes (10) for 4,575 yards (2), and 30 TDs (4) for a QBR of 60.3 (11), and Passer Rating of 97.7 (9). He’s also taken only 30 this season (T18). Last week Goff completed 81% of his passes for 277 yards and a touchdown. Was it just revenge or is Jared really that good? During the regular season the Lions offense finished second in passing yards per game (259), third in total yards per game (395), and fifth in both rushing yards game (136) and points scored per game (27). That’s right up there with the 49ers. Yes, the Lions ARE that good.

Detroit has TWO running backs that are in the top 20 for rushing yards this year. David Montgomery leads the pride with 1,015 yards (9), for 13 TDs (T5 with Ravens, Gus Edwards), averaging 4.6 yards per carry, and 72.5 yards per game. Jahmyr Gibbs has 945 rushing yards (17) and 10 TDs (10) averaging 5.2 yards per carry and 63 yards per game. Hands down, this is the best RB duo in the league. Now let’s throw in Wide Receiver, Amon-Ra St. Brown, who has 119 receptions (T2 with Tyreek Hill), for 1,515 yards (3) and 10 receiving TDs (10). Wow! Seriously?! To complement them, is Tight End Sam LaPorta, who has 86 receptions (18 overall and 4th for TEs), for 889 yards (37 overall and 5th for TEs), and 10 TDs (10). LaPorta is a rookie as is Gibbs. St. Brown is in his second year…this team is going to be good for a long time to come.

Defense MIGHT be a problem for the Lions against a team like the 49ers. At the least, it will keep things interesting in this game. Detroit is great against the run, only giving up 90 yards per game (2). Against the pass though, they are the worst team remaining in the playoffs. They have given up 247.5 passing yards per game (27), 23 points per game (23), and have registered only 41 sacks (23). I guess we know what they’ll be drafting this April, huh?! Defensive End, Aidan Hutchinson is the only one worth mentioning on the line. Hutch has 11.5 sacks this season (T12) and 14 tackles for a loss (T16). Safety, Kerby Joseph leads the Detroit DBs with four INTs (T7) and 11 passes defended (T28), while rookie, Cornerback, Brian Branch has three INTs of his own (T25) and 13 passes defended (T16). The Lions just don’t get a lot of turnovers, which is not what you would expect from a Dan Campbell team. They have 12 INTs in the regular season (T13), and 11 fumble recoveries (T20) for a total of 23 turnovers (19). It’s a good thing that they don’t give up the ball a lot either, as their turnover differential is zero.


Defense wins championships, right? Yes. Well, neither of these teams has a very solid defense, and if you don’t have a great defense, you had better have a great offense! Despite what Tampa Bay showed us last week against a lackluster Philly team, it’s just not them. The Lions are a scary team, that I think a lot of people are discrediting because they have been bad for soooo long. Not only do I think that they Lions beat up on the Bucs this week, but I think they hold their own next week at San Francisco. It would not surprise me (and I would be elated!) if the Lions made it to the Super Bowl. Dan Campbell deserves it. Jared Goff deserves it, and most importantly, the Lions fans of Detroit deserve it! One game at a time though. Lions win, 28-20.


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