The Buccaneers are looking to get their swagger back as they will take on the Super Bowl Champion Kansas City Chiefs at Raymond James Stadium on Sunday Afternoon.
The Super Bowl Champions came to Tampa to take on a Buccaneers team that has lost two of their last three and needs a win in the worst way.
This game has been on everyone’s list of must-see games since the schedule came out this spring.
The Chiefs are 9-1 and have been playing at a high level all season. Patrick Mahomes is the best young quarterback in the league and has the Chiefs averaging 417 yards a game on offense.
No quarterback can make plays while on the run better than Patrick Mahomes.
Mahomes, at 25 years of age, already has one MVP award and is closing in on a second. Mahomes also has a Super Bowl ring and could add a second one this season.
The Chiefs are averaging 32 points a game, while the Buccaneers are averaging 29 points a game. This game has the potential to be an offensive shootout. Whoever has the ball last might end up winning this game.
The Chiefs are coming off a come-from-behind 35-31 win over the Raiders last Sunday night, while the Bucs are coming off a Monday night loss to the Los Angeles Rams 27-24.
The Bucs will have to face this Chiefs team with a makeshift offensive line. Center A. Q. Shipley, who had done a decent job at center, suffered a neck injury late in the game against the Rams.
After a consultation with the team doctors, he has been advised not to play football again. His career is over.
Guard, Ali Marpet is doubtful for the game, and tackle Donavan Smith will be a game-time decision. Smith hurt his ankle in the Rams game.
How the Bucs will put the offensive line together is anyone’s guess. I would guess Ryan Jensen would move back to center to solidify the line’s right side, with Wirfs at tackle, Cappa at guard, and Jensen at center. How the left side of the line shakes out will be a game-time decision.
Joe Haeg, John Molchon, Aaron Stinnie, and Josh Wells could all see playing time on the offensive line.
The offensive line has struggled in two of the last three games. The Chiefs defense is not the second coming of the Steelers steel curtain defense of the ’70s, but when you are missing two starters from your offensive line, there has to be a cause for concern.
Everyone wants to bad mouth the Chiefs defense, but this defense is better than most people think.
They are giving up 355 yards a game, which is 15th in the league. They are in the top ten in pass defense, giving up 222 yards a game, and are giving up just 21 points a game.
The black eye is that they are in the bottom third in run defense, giving up 133 yards a game.
If there was ever a time for the Bucs to get that run game going, Sunday might be a good time to start.
Cornerback Jamel Dean will be out in the secondary as he is in concussion protocol. Ross Cockrell will play in Dean’s absence.
Talking to the media about the challenges the Chiefs present, Arians said, “They can stretch the field in many different ways vertically and horizontally. They’re good run-after-the-catch guys. They did a great job of building their roster with the kind of players they like. Every receiver they have can run. They’re built on speed, and Pat does a hell of a job distributing it to everybody.”
The Chiefs will roll out Tyreek Hill, Sammy Watkins, and Mecole Hardman at wide receiver. This trio will present a challenge for the Bucs secondary.
Rookie running back Clyde Edwards-Helaire is in the top 10 in rushing and is another dangerous playmaker the Bucs defense will have to account for.
Defensively the Chiefs have two excellent rushers in Frank Clark and Chris Jones. Tyrann Mathieu in the defensive backfield is having his usual All-Pro season with 35 tackles and two picks, one returned for a touchdown.
Tom Brady is undefeated against Patrick Mahomes, going 4-0 against Mahomes, including the playoffs.
If the Bucs are going to beat this Chiefs team, here are four things that must happen.
-Offensive line must keep Brady upright. That will be a challenge with a makeshift offensive line.
-Contain Patrick Mahomes. You will not shut him down; you can only hope to contain him. The pressure that the front seven generates is going to be critical. Keep Mahomes in the pocket; don’t let him beat you with his legs.
-Running game has to contribute. Ronald Jones and Leonard Fournette rushed for 41 yards against the Rams. They also dropped a combined four passes. Can we give LeSean McCoy a chance? He can’t do any worse catching the ball than Jones and Fournette.
-Defensive backs have to play better. If the Bucs play zone the entire game, Mahomes will pick this secondary apart if there is no pressure.
The Chiefs will win this game. They are clicking on all cylinders offensively and are finding ways to win games.
The Bucs have beaten just two teams all season with a winning record, the Packers 38-10 and the Raiders 45-20.
Chiefs win this one 38-34.