VACATIONS OVER BOYS!
After a long bye week, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers are back in action and ready to make a run at Lombardi number three. It’s Week 10, and the Bucs are traveling to the Land of Brandon to play the 2-6 Redskins, or Football Team for you “politically correct” people out there. Statistically, this game might be the biggest mismatch in the NFL this season. Tampa Bay’s #1 passing offense versus Washington’s 32nd ranked passing defense. It should be a blowout in favor of the Bucs, but this is the NFL, and anything can happen.
We saw it last weekend when the 4-4 Broncos beat the 6-1 Cowboys. The Bucs may have been on a bye, but they won in other ways. Not only did the Cowboys lose, but the Packers, Rams, and Saints lost as well. Tampa Bay gained spots in the playoff seeding AND widened the gap in the NFC South race without even setting foot on the field. Now they face another NFC opponent in the 2-6 Redskins. So let’s dive into the “Football Team” and see what the Bucs will be facing on Sunday.
Washington has struggled mightily on offense so far this season. They are 16th in total offense averaging just 349 yards per game. They’re 20th in passing, 12th in rushing, and 25th in points averaging just 19.5 per game. With Curtis Samuel sidelined, their leading receiver is Terry McLaurin with 43 catches for 573 yards and 4 touchdowns. He’s essentially the ONLY receiving threat they have, so the Bucs should be able to contain their passing game even with their depleted secondary.
Washington quarterback Taylor Heinicke, who Bucs fans should remember well from that wildcard playoff game, has thrown for 1,928 yards, 11 touchdowns, and 9 interceptions this season while completing 64% of his passes. He’s also got 232 yards rushing, as well, showing that he can tuck and run when the opportunity arises. Speaking of running the football: their leading rusher is Antonio Gibson, with 442 yards and 3 touchdowns.
This is an offense very much looking for an identity right now. And it doesn’t look like they’re close to finding it anytime soon. They’ve scored the 3rd fewest touchdowns this season (17) while being -4 in turnovers, meaning they have turned the ball over 13 times while creating just 9 turnovers on defense. This whole team is struggling this year, not just the offense. And they just don’t have the firepower to hang with Tampa Bay in this one.
As bad as the Washington offense has been, their defense has been even worse. Their 29th ranked D is giving up 390 total yards per game, including a league-worst 287 passing yards per game. They’re allowing nearly 29 points per game, giving up 24 points or more in six of their eight games this season. And these numbers won’t get any better after this week. I fully expect Tom Brady and company to ravage them on Sunday, making these numbers even worse than they already are.
They’ve given up 20 passing touchdowns while only grabbing 4 interceptions this year, and they’re facing an offense that’s thrown for a league-leading 25 touchdowns and just 5 interceptions. It’s not going to be pretty. The ONLY chance they’ll have to slow down the Buccaneers’ passing attack is by getting to Tom Brady early and often. But that will be a little more difficult than usual with one of their best defensive lineman Montez Sweat out for this game. However, defensive tackle Jonathan Allen leads the team with 6 sacks, and they still have Chase Young, even though he hasn’t been as effective this season as he was last year.
WHO’S IN & WHO’S OUT
Tampa Bay may have gotten a few players back from injury after the bye week, but they also lost a couple too. It looks like Richard Sherman and Dee Delaney will rejoin the Bucs secondary and possibly even Sean Murphy-Bunting, but they have lost Rashard Robinson, who is now on IR with a hamstring injury. The receiving corps is hurting now too. Antonio Brown is still out with the ankle injury. Rob Gronkowski is out with a back injury. And now Chris Godwin is in danger of missing the game with a foot issue. With Scotty Miller just coming back from IR, they added some depth this week by signing two players with experience in Bruce Arians system, wide receiver Breshad Perriman and tight end Darren Fells. Both guys are on the active roster and could play if needed on Sunday. The only other Bucs player listed as “questionable” this week is Jason Pierre-Paul, but I’m sure he’ll play.
Washington comes into this game missing some key players as well. Their best receiver Curtis Samuel is still out with a groin injury. One of their best pass rushers Montez Sweat is out with a broken jaw. And one of their best cornerbacks is out on concussion protocol. There are a few other players that are questionable, but those are the big ones.
MATCHUPS TO WATCH
Chase Young vs Donovan Smith
Young has been suffering from a bit of a sophomore slump so far, with just 1.5 sacks in 8 games this season. Smith has been playing pretty good football as of late, so this could be a good battle to keep an eye on in this one.
Antonio Gibson vs Devin White
Gibson is a dual-threat out of the Washington backfield, and White could be assigned to keeping an eye on him during this game. White needs a big game here as he has had a less than impressive season so far. This is a speed vs speed matchup that could be fun to watch.
Taylor Heinicke vs Lavonte David
If White is assigned to Gibson, then David could draw the assignment of keeping Heinicke from running wild like he did in the playoffs last season.
Jonathan Allen vs Ali Marpet
This could be good. Allen leads the team with 6 sacks, and Marpet is one of the best guards in football. This is power vs power in a good old-fashioned mano-y-mano matchup.
On paper, this matchup looks horrible for Washington. The worst passing defense in football against the league’s #1 passing offense led by Tom Brady. This has the potential to get real ugly real quick. They are missing their best receiver and their best pass rusher. It’s just bad all around. The one good thing for them is that they’re coming off a bye as well, so they have had two weeks to prepare for the Bucs. I just don’t think they have enough talent for it to matter.
As I said, this could get real ugly real fast. I don’t think this game is going to be close at all; unless the Bucs come out of this bye week completely flat. I can’t see that happening after that terrible showing in New Orleans. I’m going with the Buccaneers in a blowout.
BUCS 41 REDSKINS 13
The Bucs have had two weeks to let that Saints loss stew inside their guts. Two weeks to figure out what went wrong in that ridiculous loss. Two weeks to get healthy and get their minds right. If I know Tom Brady, he’s still pissed about New Orleans, and he should be. They all should be. They should be chomping at the bit to get back on the field and set this season back right again. If Tampa Bay bounces back like I think they will, it won’t be pretty to watch for Washington fans. However, it should help get some of the taste of that Taints loss out of Bucs fans’ mouths. We’ll see if Arians and Brady have these boys ready for a playoff run on Sunday. So now that you know all you need to know about this game, it’s time to say:
WASHINGTON FOOTBALL TEAM, YOUR ASS IS ON THE CLOCK!
Written by Jonathan Hinkle