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Key Matchups: Buccaneers vs. Lions

Posted Nov 22, 2013

Darrelle Revis and Calvin Johnson will draw the most attention, but other significant battles in Sunday's game in Detroit include Reggie Bush against a Bucs LB corps that is down one man

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2-8) will take on the Detroit Lions (6-4) on Sunday at Ford Field in Detroit. Here are several matchups between individual players and/or certain team units that could go a long way towards determining the game's final outcome:

Tampa Bay CB Darrelle Revis vs. Detroit WR Calvin Johnson
-- RB B. Rainey faces a Lions defense that ranks fifth in the NFL against the run
There is little doubt where all eyes will be pointed when the Detroit Lions offense takes the field. One year removed from his NFL record-setting 1,964 yard season, Calvin Johnson leads the league with 120.3 receiving yards per game (ypg) and 11 touchdowns. In the last four games he has 746 total receiving yards, another NFL record. This week, he will face Bucs’ shutdown cornerback Darrelle Revis, widely regarded as one of the best at his position in the NFL. The two have met just once before, in 2010, when Johnson was limited to just one reception for 13 yards against Revis' Jets. Now a Buccaneer, Revis will look to hold his ground and come out on top in Round Two as well.

Bucs RBs Bobby Rainey and Brian Leonard vs. Lions Rush Defense
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have posted three consecutive games with at least 140 rushing yards, which has rocketed the team from 21st in the NFL with 93.6 rushing ypg after Week Eight to 13th in the league with 118.6 yards per game currently. This week, they face their toughest test since Week Eight, a Lions defense that is allowing 94.6 ypg, fifth lowest in the league. Rainey went off for 163 yards rushing and three total TDs last week. He, Leonard and the Bucs O-line will need to be on their game against the Detroit front that has allowed just five rushing scores this season.

Bucs DT Gerald McCoy's Production vs. Lions DT Ndamukong Suh's Production
These two big men in the middle have been linked since being drafted back-to-back with the second and third overall picks in 2010. Each has represented the NFC in the Pro Bowl and is considered among the best at the defensive tackle position. As was graphically represented earlier this week, the two are again back-to-back this season in QB sacks, hits and hurries in both total and percentage of plays. While they don’t directly face one another, of course, they are both game-changers that opposing offenses must plan around. They must use their differing styles to be a disruption in this game.

Buccaneer LBs vs. Detroit RB Reggie Bush
Bush is currently ranked fifth in the NFL in scrimmage ypg with 113.3. He has 654 yards on the ground, but is also a threat in the passing game, having caught 36 passes for 366 yards. The Bucs defense is allowing 120 rushing ypg over their last four games, but have limited running backs to just 16 receptions, 100 yards and one TD in that time span. The Buccaneer linebackers, minus usual starter Mason Foster (concussion) will need to corral Bush by keeping him from getting to the edges and limiting his touches in the passing game.

WR Vincent Jackson vs. Lions Secondary
After three relatively quiet weeks, Jackson erupted last Sunday against Atlanta with 10 catches for 165 yards and a touchdown. He was on the receiving end of two 45 -yard passes in the game. He will look to put up his fifth game of the season with more than 100 yards against the Lions this week. The Lions rank 29th in the NFL with 296.7 passing ypg allowed and 23rd in the league allowing 24 passes going longer than 25 yards. Jackson has been targeted 113 times this season, second most in NFL, and could be in line for another explosive game if those numbers continue in Detroit.