The Buccaneers will head to Glendale and have a rare matchup with the Arizona Cardinals on Christmas Night.
The Bucs will make history, as this will be the first time they will play on Christmas Day.
The Buccaneers will be trying to snap a two-game losing streak after getting blown out in San Francisco and suffering a disappointing home loss to Cincinnati. The Buccaneers had built a 17-0 lead against the Bengals in the first half before allowing Cincinnati to score 34 unanswered points in a 34-23 loss.
The Cardinals have lost four in a row and six of their last seven. They have lost starting quarterback Kyler Murray for the season with an ACL injury, and backup quarterback Colt McCoy is out with a concussion.
The Cardinals are 4-10 and have been eliminated from the playoffs, so they are just playing out the string.
The Cardinals could also be looking at a coaching change next season, as Kliff Kingsbury and quarterback Kyler Murray seem at odds and have fractured their relationship beyond repair.
There are rumors that Kingsbury will resign at the end of the season.
The Buccaneers are still banged up on the defensive side of the ball, especially in the secondary. Jamel Dean will miss the game Sunday night as Todd Bowles said, “He needs more time after missing last Sunday’s game with Cincinnati.
Linebackers Carl Nassib, Genard Avery, and nose tackle Vita Vea have been ruled out for this game.
Along the offensive line, tackle Tristan Wirfs has been limited this week but will play against the Cardinals. In addition, tackle Donovan Smith has been ruled out. That means that Josh Wells, who has filled in for Wirfs for the last two weeks, will move over to the left side and start in place of Donovan Smith.
Buccaneers Face Another Quarterback Making His First Start
The Buccaneers will face a quarterback who has never started an NFL game, Trace McSorley. McSorley was named the Cardinals starting quarterback after Colt McCoy suffered a concussion in the 24-15 loss against Denver last week.
McSorley, drafted by the Baltimore Ravens out of Penn State in 2019, has attempted 39 passes in his NFL career. He has one touchdown and three interceptions on his resume.
McSorley can be a threat to run the ball. He was clocked at 4.7/40 in college and has rushed for 52 yards on 11 carries in his NFL career.
On paper, this should be a win for the Buccaneers. But the Buccaneers have never done well against quarterbacks making their first NFL start. Brock Purdy of San Francisco is the most recent example, as the 49ers dismantled the Bucs 35-7, with Purdy making his first NFL start.
Cardinals Have Two Explosive Playmakers on Offense
Despite their 4-10 record, the Cardinals have a dynamic pair of wide receivers in DeAndre Hopkins and Marquise Brown. Despite missing the first six games of the season with an NFL suspension, Hopkins leads the Cardinals with 63 catches for 713 yards and three touchdowns.
Brown has 57 catches for 584 yards and three touchdowns.
Running back James Conner, despite missing three games, has run for 624 yards and is averaging 4.1 yards per carry with six touchdowns.
Defensively, although he is not the player he once was, JJ Watt is still a formidable presence on the defensive side of the ball. Watt had three sacks of Denver quarterback Brett Rypien in the 24-15 loss to the Broncos last week.
Budda Baker at safety is one of the best at his position. He has been to three straight Pro Bowls, making plays all over the field. He leads the team with 102 tackles and is tied for the team lead with two interceptions.
This will not be an easy game for the Buccaneers, despite their being favored by 7.5 points.
The pressure is on after Carolina’s 37-23 win over the Detroit Lions to stay atop the NFC South. A Bucs loss will knock the Bucs out of a playoff spot and the division lead.
I like the Bucs to win this game 21-17 to maintain their hold on first place in the NFC South.
Tristan Wirfs Named To Second Pro Bowl
–On Wednesday, Wirfs was named to his second Pro Bowl in three seasons. Wirfs is the third offensive lineman in Buccaneer history to be named to two Pro Bowls joining Tony Mayberry with three and Davin Joseph with two.
Wirfs has had another excellent season at his right tackle spot. According to PFF, Wirfs has allowed four quarterback pressures, one quarterback hit, and one sack.
Wirfs will be the lone Buccaneer at the Pro Bowl on February 5th in Las Vegas. Quarterback Tom Brady and safety Antoine Winfield Jr. were named first alternates.
Guard Shaq Mason, kicker Ryan Succop, nose tackle Vita Vea, and linebacker Devin White were also named alternates.