Tampa Bay looks to string together back-to-back solid performances, but they’ll be facing off against a Jacksonville Jaguars team that’s dropped three games in a row. The Buccaneers (4-7) now have a real opportunity to win their third game in the last four contests and they will look to pull that off on the road at TIAA Bank Field today.
Jacksonville (4-7) has an identical record like Tampa Bay’s and the Jaguars are still trying to find their footing with Nick Foles back at the helm at quarterback. Since the Jaguars’ marquee free agent signing from the off-season has stepped back onto the field, Jacksonville is 0-2 with a couple of ugly losses to the Indianapolis Colts and the Tennessee Titans.
Though Foles has done a great job taking care of the football, only throwing one interception this season with over 100 pass attempts, it hasn’t done much to jump start Jacksonville’s offense. The Jaguars’ offense continues to rely on the steady running of tailback Leonard Fournette, who is closing in on breaking 1,000 yards for the season.
Good thing for Tampa Bay’s defense is they specialize primarily in stopping the run, as the Buccaneers are holding opponents to less than 85 yards per game on the ground. As Foles is careful with the football, the Buccaneers are hoping starter Jameis Winston can somehow escape mistake free. Winston threw for 313 yards in last week’s 35-22 win over Atlanta, along with three touchdowns, but added two more interceptions to bring his mark to a league-high 20 picks.
Winston has continued his up and down play this season under Bruce Arians, with the Buccaneers never knowing quite which version of their quarterback they might see. Despite Winston’s turnovers in the last three weeks, Tampa Bay has quietly won two of its last three. The second half of the schedule for Tampa Bay becomes much more kind to the Buccaneers, as a real opportunity to finish strong lies ahead.
Buccaneers’ defensive coordinator Todd Bowles young secondary will likely be put to the challenge once more when they face Foles and crew. Sean Bunting-Murphy, Carlton Davis, Mike Edwards and Jamel Dean will likely all see major time in the defensive backfield and all have stepped up their play as of late.
What the defense will also hope to see more of is sacks and that’s where Shaquill Barrett comes in, as the NFL’s sack leader leads the league with 12.5 on the season. He will be joined by Jason Pierre-Paul, Vita Vea as the three have been causing plenty of havoc up front. Rookie linebacker Devin White has a very impressive performance last week against Atlanta, racking up two sacks in the process.
A win for Tampa Bay looks to spring hope of finishing 7-9, 8-8 in what could have been a much more disastrous campaign. The Buccaneers after visiting Jacksonville today will then host the Colts, then travel north to face the struggling Detroit Lions and then are home for a Dec. 21st Saturday contest versus the Houston Texans and then ending the season against the Falcons.
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