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NFL Divisional Round preview: Tampa Bay Buccaneers vs. Detroit Lions.

We have a battle of divisional champs as the NFC south winners in the Tampa Bay Buccaneers travel up to the motor city to face the winner of the NFC North, the Detroit Lions for a spot in the NFC championship game. This matchup, featuring the 4th seeded Bucs and the 3rd seeded Lions, which kicks off Sunday at 2 P.M. ET at Ford Field on CBS.

The last time these 2 teams faced off was back in October, with the Lions taking down the Buccaneers 20-6 in Tampa Bay, featuring a 2 TD performance from Jared Goff. But, things are much different as both teams are coming off huge wins in the Wild Card Round.


Game info

Date: Sunday January, 21st

Start time: 2:00 EST

Location: Detroit, Michigan

Stadium: Ford Field

TV info: CBS


Keys to Victory for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers


#1- Keep Baker Hot.

This is easier said than done for the Buccaneers as quarterback Baker Mayfield is coming off an historic win vs the Philadelphia Eagles, throwing for 337 yards and 3 touchdowns to 0 interceptions against a rather weak Eagles secondary. It’s obvious that the run game in the Bay is very inefficient so in order to have a chance to win this game, Baker needs to pick up right where he left off. The Lions defense isn’t the best ranking #19 in total defense while frequently letting up the long ball to speedy wide receivers, so the matchup favors a rather hot Baker.

#2- Minimize the Drops.

Yes, the Bucs put an absolute beatdown on the Eagles, but it could have been 10x worse if it weren’t for the 4 drops the Buccaneers had. This sounds easier said than done, but if Tampa Bay wants a chance to win this game, they have to finish and execute every single play. They can’t afford costly drops from Cade Otton and Mike Evans as those can easily be the dagger for the Bucs to not pull off the win. Mayfield has one of the lower drop percentage in the league at 5.7% but when you’re averaging a rate of 11.1% especially against a Lions offense that can score at any moment, it will cost you the game. If the Bucs can execute like they normally do it will keep them in the game.

#3- Shut down the run game

A big reasoning into why the Bucs found so much success was Head Coach Todd Bowles usage of the blitz against the eagles. With the RB tandem that Detroit uses in David Montgomery and Jahmir Gibbs and the success they had against the Rams (14 carries for 57 yards and a TD for Montgomery and 8 carries for 26 yards and a TD for Gibbs).


If the Bucs can eliminate that from Dan Campbell playbook, it will force the Lions to throw more which is constantly hit or miss. Goff threw 30 TD’s to 12 interceptions this season including a 3 INT game vs Chicago. This will mean the Lions offense has to be more aggressive which the Bucs defense can jump all over early and often.


Keys for the Lions to win


#1- Let Goff cook.

Funny Enough, Jared Goff has arguably the most success against Todd Bowles as when the teams faced off in week 6 Goff popped off, going 30-44 for 353 yards and 3 touchdowns. Lions fans hope and pray that Goff can handle the pressure and reciprocate this performance as he’s going to have to contend with the blitz all game (and likely no run game).


Goff has a notoriously good pocket presence, he doesn’t get sacked or pressured often and is successful against the blitz for the most part, therefor why the rams didn’t pressure him as much (even tho it backfired heavy as he completed all his passes when not pressured)

If Jared Goff can stay in his zone and do what he does best, this game is going to get out of control quick.

#2- Minimize playing In man to man defense

If there’s one thing I’ve learned about this Lions defense is that the secondary is rather shakey to say the least and this week they have to worry about defending Mike Evans and Chris Godwin which is no easy task. Oh and Baker Mayfield is hot. With that being said to maximize the defense success i believe they need to stay out of man to man coverage to not get burnt in coverage(like how Puka burnt his man in the wild card round)

This cannot be happening in the Divisional round as the Bucs offense is pass first. If Aidan Hutchinson and that defensive line can put constant pressure on Baker and the DB’s don’t get burnt in man to man this will be a long game for the Buccaneers.


#3- All gas, no breaks

The Lions this season have had one of the best offenses in the league due to their ability to score at any point, whether it be a deep ball to Jamison Williams, goal line HB dive from David Montgomery or St. Brown making tough grabs and racking up YAC, you never know what this team can do to you. That being said this isn’t the time to let off the gas as the Lions can’t necessarily rely on their defense to make the stops needed. If the offense is on the Lions win easy, if the offense is cold things look real tough real quick for the Motor City boys. The Lions are on their A game right now, playing some of their best football and that’s due to the offense. Expect Detroit to play aggressive and quick as they want to run up the score as fast as possible as they are undefeated this season when they score first.


Spread: Lions (-6.5)

Moneyline: Lions (-275); Buccaneers (+220)

Over/under: 48.5


Prediction-

This feels like a pick em to the majority of people as it’s expected to be a close game however seeing what the Lions did to the Bucs in week 6 and with this game being in Detroit I simply cannot bet against Dan Campbell and the Lions. Goff practically owns Todd Bowles and I expect to see the run game of the Lions play a major factor in this game (Jahmyir Gibbs legacy game incoming) and with that said the edge goes to the Lions to await the winner of Green Bay vs San Francisco.

Lions over Buccaneers 30-10

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