The Tampa Bay Buccaneers return home this week as they face another team from California in the San Diego Chargers. Once again the Buccaneers are playing a team with the same record, as both sit at 4-4. This is a huge game for both teams that are both currently in second place for their division.
While it’s highly unlikely that the Buccaneers are going to catch the undefeated Atlanta Falcons, they are only a half game back of the last wildcard spot, and own the tie breaker against the Minnesota Vikings. Coach Greg Schiano preaches not looking ahead and playing a series of one-game seasons.
Fresh off of their own blowout victory on Thursday Night Football, the Chargers will be tasked trying to slow down an offense that has ranked first statistically in most categories since October. I’m not sure that they have the personnel to do so, and one player in particular has to be ready to have a great game: Vincent Jackson.
Jackson left the Chargers this past off-season and has seen some success early for the Buccaneers. He leads the league in yards-per-catch and has helped make the Buccaneers offense reach new heights. You add in that the Chargers secondary just isn’t what it once was and I expect Jackson and Mike Williams to have big games.
Josh Freeman has been on an absolute tear over the past five weeks, and don’t think that changes this week. I have Freeman throwing for over 300 yards and 3 touchdowns again this week. He didn’t hit the 300-yard mark last week, but that was because of the stellar play of Doug Martin.
Despite losing the best guard in football last week, Martin ran all over the Oakland Raiders defense. He has been something to watch since the bye week, and I expect him to keep up his great play. I don’t know how you can top the past two performances, but I can see another 100-yard game on the ground and a couple of catches like every week.
Defensively I’m not sure it’s going to get better for the Buccaneers pass defense. I expect them to keep Ryan Matthews in check on the ground, but Phillip Rivers is going to have a field day against the secondary.
What the Buccaneers do to cover Antonio Gates should be interesting. They haven’t had rookie Mark Barron play a ton of man coverage, but this could be the week for him to do so against Gates. Both have outstanding size, so if that match-up does happen, it should be a fun one to watch.
I think the Buccaneers will cause the timely turnovers in this game, as Rivers has been susceptible to throw some bad interceptions. I have the Buccaneers winning pretty easily 38-21 to bring the Buccaneers to 5-4 on the year