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Winston, Bucs try to continue surge vs. Lions

"Holley Chun" (2019-12-19)


Sunday's tilt between the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Detroit Lions can best be described as a team from the south headed north in the standings going up against a team from the north plummeting south.

Tampa Bay will head to Detroit playing its best football of the year, having won three consecutive games and four of its last five following a 2-6 start.

The Buccaneers have been clicking offensively the last three weeks, scoring 35 points against Atlanta, 28 points at Jacksonville and 38 points in a win at home over Indianapolis on Sunday.

Tampa Bay (6-7) has produced because of, and also in spite of, erratic quarterback Jameis Winston.

Winston has completed 61.3 percent of his passes and is second in the NFL in passing yards (4,115) and tied for second in touchdown passes (26). But Winston is also turning the ball over at an alarming rate, with his 23 interceptions the most in the league by seven.

Winston's inconsistency was on full display last week against the Colts, when he threw for 456 yards and four touchdowns, but also three interceptions, including his fifth pick-6 of the season.

"He puts a lot of touchdowns up," Lions head coach Matt Patricia said of Winston. "We have to make sure we get that stopped first. Just capitalize on those opportunities if we get them."

Winston suffered a hairline fracture in his right (throwing) thumb during the win over the Colts, but said he intends to play against the Lions. He was limited in Wednesday's practice.

The Buccaneers won't have one of their key offensive weapons against the Lions, as wideout Mike Evans suffered a season-ending hamstring injury against the Colts.

"It's going to be different from that aspect, not having one of the best receivers in the game," Winston said. "As far as conceptually, we are going to do what we do. We have some great guys who have been stepping up for us like they did last game. We are going to go out and execute."

However, Winston and Tampa Bay's other healthy playmakers on offense have to be licking their chops. They face a porous Detroit defense that is the biggest reason why the Lions are in a free fall.

Detroit (3-9-1) has lost six games in a row and nine of 10, moving into the fifth spot in the 2020 NFL Draft order.

The Lions rank 29th in the league in total defense, giving up 397.4 yards per game. The Lions are also 24th in scoring defense, giving up an average of 25.8 points per game.

However, Tampa Bay head coach Bruce Arians said the Lions do present problems defensively.

"Sometimes statistics lie," Arians said. "(Cornerback) Darius Slay, he's a ball hawk, and he's going to be jumping routes like he always has. They've got a heck of a pass rush. (Defensive end) Trey Flowers is one of the best there is."

While the Buccaneers might see an opportunity to put up more points against the Lions, the same can also be said of Detroit against Tampa Bay's defense.

The Buccaneers enter 31st in the league in points allowed per game at 29.3 per game, although Tampa Bay will get the benefit this time of going up against a third-string quarterback.

For the third straight game, the Lions will start rookie David Blough, with starter Matthew Stafford still nursing a back injury and backup Jeff Driskel on injured reserve with a hamstring injury.

Blough has actually put up decent numbers in his first two games, 로또 무료 번호 completing 46 of 78 passes for 485 yards, three touchdowns and three interceptions.

The Lions also will be without a key wideout, as starter Marvin Jones was placed on injured reserve on Tuesday with an ankle injury.

"We'll do the best job we can to put whoever it is (out there), whether it's a wide receiver or another skill-position (player)," Patricia said. "Sometimes it's maybe not as obvious as a simple wide-receiver changeout. Sometimes there are different things you can do to make sure you are maximizing the productivity of players on the field."

Formerly division rivals in the old NFC Central, this will only be the sixth meeting between Tampa Bay and Detroit since 2010. The Lions have won four of the last five, including 24-21 at Tampa in the last meeting in 2017.

--Field Level Media