The Tampa Bay Buccaneers (9-5) take their show on the road for the last time in the regular season as they look to make it three straight wins when they face the slumping Detroit Lions (5-9) Saturday afternoon at Ford Field. The road to clinching a playoff berth is simple for Tampa in these final two weeks: win and you’re in. It’s that simple for the Buccaneers, as they face the Lions and Atlanta Falcons, two teams with a combined record of 9-19 on the season. The Buccaneers are also jockeying for playoff position and are a longshot still to win the NFC South, with a scenario of if the New Orleans Saints lose out and Tampa Bay wins, the latter wins the division. Holding out hope for that, though, are very slim margins and with the Saints facing the Minnesota Vikings on Christmas and the Carolina Panthers on the road to close things out, it could very well be a possibility worth thinking about. But we now take a closer look at what Tampa Bay has to do in order for them to clinch a playoff berth in beating Detroit on Saturday.
Get after Detroit quarterback Matthew Stafford
The lack of a true run game for the Lions makes their offense one-dimensional behind quarterback Matthew Stafford, who is currently playing injured. Stafford was for the most part ineffective against the Tennessee Titans last week, in which the Lions’ signal-caller threw for 252 yards and a touchdown in Detroit’s 46-25 loss. Not having to worry much about the run game versus Detroit will mean more of a green light to get after Stafford, who did not play against the Buccaneers last year due to injury. Tampa Bay rolled into Detroit and won handily behind a 450-yard plus performance from former starting quarterback Jameis Winston.
Tampa Bay’s offense should have a field day
If there’s a game down this final four-game stretch that the Buccaneers should look towards getting back on track and piling up yards, points, this should be the one. The Lions are ranked 30th in the NFL in total yards allowed, with the defense ranking 29th (137.3 yards per game) against the run and 27th (264.1 per game) versus the pass. That bodes well for Tampa Bay’s offense starting the game off slow. The Buccaneers’ struggles out of the gate come well documented, as Tampa Bay failed to score a single point in the first half last Sunday versus Atlanta. It would be a good opportunity for the Buccaneers to open the game off running and get themselves in gear for the postseason, as slow starts will hinder any chances of making a deep playoff run.
Brady should set a single-season touchdown record on Sunday
It has only been about one season for Tom Brady and the 43-year old is already about to set a team single-season franchise record. The funny thing is, the record he’s about to break was just set last season by Winston, who threw for a single-season team record of 32 touchdowns in 2019. Winston also threw for 30 interceptions, which eventually led to his exit from Tampa Bay and the signing of Brady in the off-season. Brady, who is currently sitting at 32 touchdowns and 11 interceptions on the season, is on pace to set the new single-season mark at 33 touchdowns (and beyond) Sunday versus the Lions and etch his name into the franchise record books. Based on Brady’s own personal achievements, he is on pace to throw for the most touchdowns in his career since 2015 when he threw for 36 touchdowns and yardage wise he should go over the 4,300 mark. The last time Brady threw for over 4,300 yards, he won a Super Bowl with New England. Brady’s quarterback rating should also be his best since 2018 and possibly beat out the 97.7 rating he had in 2018.
Andy Villamarzo can be reached at [email protected] and follow him on Twitter @avillamarzo.