The Tampa Bay Bucs resurrect Bucco Bruce and the creamsicles against an old NFC Central foe
It’s here. It’s finally here. After waiting for over a decade, the Tampa Bay Bucs and their fans will don the historic creamsicle jerseys and reincarnate the beloved Bucco Bruce as they rewind the clock and face off against the former division rival Detroit Lions. This throwback game was so highly anticipated, it’s become a week long celebration throughout Tampa.
However, there is still a game to be played against a very formidable foe. The 4-1 Detroit Lions, led by energetic head coach Dan Campbell, are not the slouches they used to be. In fact, Jared Goff has accomplished exactly what Baker Mayfield is attempting – finding a team that believes in him and that he can find success with for the long term.
Goff, who was famously part of the Matthew Stafford trade that ended with the Los Angeles Rams hoisting the Lombardi Trophy, has been outstanding this season. Through five games, Goff has nearly 1,300 yards to go along with his nine touchdowns, three interceptions, and 69.8% completion rate. However, he’s not the only Lion making waves in his new uniform.
Running back David Montgomery has been outstanding this season to the point that the Lions are rarely using first round pick Jahmyr Gibbs. Montgomery is coming off back-to-back 100-yard games and has scored six touchdowns in four games, since he missed the game against the Atlanta Falcons. At over four yards per carry and over twenty touches in three of his four games, Montgomery has become a huge threat in the Detroit offense.
Defensively, there’s Aidan Hutchinson who has been the leader and game wrecker everyone expected him to be. 4.5 sacks, one interception, one forced fumble, and eight quarterback hits, Hutchinson is well on his way to being every bit the dominant force we’ve seen from the likes of T.J. Watt, Nick Bosa, and Myles Garrett. Backing him up is rookie sensation safety Brian Branch, whose status is in question this week after not participating in practice on Wednesday or Thursday.
In fact, the Lions are dealing with a host of injuries on both sides of the ball that could certainly have an impact on this game. Meanwhile, the Bucs are coming off a bye and are as healthy as they’ve been since week one.
On track to return this week are Mike Evans, Calijah Kancey, SirVocea Dennis, Jamel Dean, and Ryan Neal. That certainly gives the Bucs a boost on both sides of the ball, but certainly more on the defensive side.
Calijah Kancey’s return could provide a new spark to the pass rush. In his lone half of play, Kancey was in on nine pass rush downs, had two pressures, and a quarterback hit. His speed, strength, and quickness will add a new level to the defensive line’s play and allow Todd Bowles to add more wrinkles to his blitz schemes.
One of those wrinkles will be SirVocea Dennis, who popped off the screen with Pitt and hasn’t really had much of a chance with the Bucs yet because of a lingering hamstring injury. He’s one of those versatile players that Bowles can bring from the edge, up the middle, or drop in coverage. Another way to disguise exactly what the defense is wanting to do.
Offensively, the Bucs have gotten better in each win. Against the Vikings, the Bucs scored on 33% of possessions, followed by 40% against the Bears, then 45% against the Saints. As Baker Mayfield and Dave Canales continue to get more comfortable and open things up, the Bucs’ offense gets more efficient and more dangerous. This week, they’re going to need Baker to be at his best in order to counterpunch against the NFL’s fourth highest scoring team, with the Lions averaging 29.6 points per game.
According to DraftKings Sportsbook, the Tampa Bay Bucs are 3-point home underdogs with an over/under of 42. In the Bucs’ last four games as an underdog have gone on to hit the under while the Lions have covered the spread in 13 of their last 15 games. However, if it’s a close game that comes down to the wire, that may favor the Bucs. Tampa Bay has scored last in five straight games.
The Bucs and Lions face off inside Raymond James Stadium – or, as it’ll be this week, The Big Sombrero – at 4:25 p.m. ET on FOX. Adam Amin and Daryl Johnston will be on the call.