To say this season has been disappointing is an understatement. If the Tampa Bay Buccaneers finish strong it could add to momentum headed into Bruce Arians second year as coach. Even if they do finish well, for me it’s eerily reminiscent of the season when Buccaneers defense came on strong at the end only for the following season to bomb. Mike Smith was then fired. In order to get back on track, the team needs to start with an exploitable Arizona Cardinals. Can the Buccaneers get a check in the win column this week?
After one of the worst schedules I have ever seen the NFL create, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers are home at Raymond James. Going on multiple away games in a row is tuff for any team. This season the Buccaneers had to battle through five away games to include one in London. The NFL should be embarrassed this happened and needs rules in place in order to assure no other team gets a schedule like this one ever again. The Buccaneers will come into this game with a chip on its shoulder and ready to win in front of their own fans.
Bruce Arians vs Arizona
Arians was the head coach of the Arizona Cardinals from 2013-2017. There is no bad blood between him and his previous team but players and coaches alike always want to beat the team they came from. Arians is not the only one though. Byron Leftwich and Todd Bowles are looking to show off to their old squad. There will be extra motivation for this coaching staff.
Winston vs Perception
The fan base is fed up. Half think Jamies Winston is a huge problem while the other half of the fan base point to the lack of a run game and defense. Either way, one thing is for sure, Winston must impress over the last eight games. He will be focused like he always is and will look to put together two games in a row without an interception. The first such stretch since November 25th and December 2nd of last season. The Cardinals are 29th in yards passing a game and tied for last in passing touchdowns allowed with 24. Thankfully they are also tied for last in the league for interceptions as they only have two on the season. With Mike Evans and Chris Godwin on the wings Winston should have a strong performance.
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On pace to break 1000 yards receiving each, Mike Evans and Chris Godwin will cause havoc in the secondary today. Both players are averaging over 14 yards a catch and should eclipse 100 catches each this season. Even with the return of Patric Peterson, the Cardinals do not look well equipped in the secondary. Advantage Tampa Bay Buccaneers receiving corps.
Starting this week at running back will be Ronald Jones. Jones struggled in his first season and was almost written off as a bust by the fan base and media. Enter a new offensive scheme. Jones has a chance to break out this week against a porous defense ranking in the bottom half of the league against the run. Allowing on average 126 yards a game the Cardinals could give Jones even more confidence to boost his sophomore season. He could break 100 yards this week for the first time in his career.
The offensive side of the ball could be dangerous. With the ability to extend plays Kyler Murray can exploit the weak and young secondary of the Buccaneers. Tampa has one of the worst secondaries in the entire NFL and it has had a drastic effect on the team and the season. This game could be a shoot out. Possibly returning this week is David Johnson. Kenyan Drake will also be in the mix but the Tampa run defense should keep them contained to minimal damage. The key to stopping the Cardinals offense will be containment. Containment of Murray and the running backs. If they can do that this game will lean heavily in favor of the Buccaneers.
These two teams are very similar. Porous defense in the secondary and the possibility to score at a moment’s notice. This will be a game each team needs to gain some momentum in the second half of the season. ESPN gives the Tampa Bay Buccaneers a 71% chance of winning. I agree.
Buccaneers win 31-24.