Skip to main content

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

5 Bucs to Watch Against the Lions in Week 6

The Buccaneers will face a division leader in Week Six and here are five players to watch

5 bucs to wtach

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers will face the Detroit Lions on Sunday in a historical outing at Raymond James Stadium. The matchup was flexed to a 4:45 p.m. ET kickoff on October 15, pitting two division leaders against one another. As the upper echelon of the NFC begins to form with the 5-0 Eagles and the 5-0 San Francisco 49ers at the forefront, the Buccaneers (3-1) and the Lions (4-1) have a chance to prove that they are one of the top contenders in the hierarchy of the conference. The Bucs will don a spectacular iteration of the iconic 'Creamsicle' uniforms for the first time in over a decade on Sunday for a glimpse of football nostalgia.

The Bucs took sole possession of the NFC South with a 26-9 victory over the New Orleans Saints in Week Four and are hopeful to see the return of several key cornerstones after an early-bye, including first-round pick Calijah Kancey. Baker Mayfield has become the league's most efficient passer in third-down situations and has spread out the ball to a vast-array of weapons. The visiting team boasts a top-10 offense and a top-10 defense. The rejuvenation of the Lions' offense last season is a byproduct of Ben Johnson's inventive play-calling and utilization of personnel. With a diverse run game, bunch formations, trick plays and exploitation of matchups/voids, Detroit is once again off to a humming start in 2023. Defensively, the Lions have allowed an average of just 68.4 yards per game on the ground through five games, putting the clamps on opposing team's rushers. Detroit was last in yards allowed last season but with the production of second-year phenom Aidan Hutchinson (4.5 sacks), the overall unit has steadily improved in 2023. Brian Branch, the do-it-all nickel, has solidified the back end and Jerry Jacobs has racked up three interceptions. One of these two teams will strive to create momentum heading into the midway point of the 2023 slate. Here is a breakdown at five Buccaneers to observe on Sunday afternoon at Raymond James Stadium:

Trey Palmer

Bucs' rookie Trey Palmer has made several highlight-worthy catches in 2023, elevating the team's offense. Palmer has played the majority of his snaps out of the slot (65) and possesses a rare second gear to separate. The speedster has the physicality to win against sticky coverage and the explosiveness/leaping ability to high-point the ball. He has nabbed two touchdowns this season and is averaging seven yards per reception. Palmer only has six receptions, but he has shown his ability to make an impact in critical moments on the grandest stage. On Sunday, he will likely face Lions' nickel corner Brian Branch in a battle of rookies. Branch missed Sunday's matchup against the Carolina Panthers after injuring his right ankle in the win over Green Bay. Prior to his injury stint, Branch had become a defensive catalyst for Detroit, igniting the defense. He is tied for the team lead in tackles (25), tackles for loss (three) and passes defensed (four) through four games in 2023. He returned a Patrick Mahomes' interception for a touchdown in Week One against the Chiefs. Just like he did for Alabama, Branch is a do-it-all chess piece. With range, instincts, smooth transition from his pedal and mirror-and-match capability, Branch has already carved out his niche at the pro level. He is adept at staying in the pocket of tight ends, backs and slot receivers on curl/flat routes and diagnosing the run with proper technique and angles of pursuit.

Shaq Barrett

Penei Sewell, one of the best right tackles in the game will contend with Bucs' Shaq Barrett on Sunday, who primarily rushes off the left side. Sewell was a perfect 30-for-30 in pass-blocking reps against Carolina in Week 5 and routinely imposes his will in the trenches with foot quickness and burst off the snap to generate leverage on the opposition. The 300-plus-pound athletic freak makes move blocks in space look like an artform and extends with second-level effort to spring explosive runs. Barrett, the Bucs' relentless pass rusher, is playing at peak form post-Achilles injury. Most notably against the Bears in Week Two, Barrett made a sensational one-handed interception off an attempted screen pass, returning it four yards for a touchdown. Initially, he stunted inside, then read Justin Fields' eyes, dissected the play and dropped back to disrupt the passing window. Barrett pivoted and extended for the grab, then raced into the end zone with push from teammates. That play iced the win at Raymond James Stadium. Barrett has outstanding closing speed and instinctually finds the ball. His speed catches opponents off guard and he often finds himself even with the tackle before they can get out of their stance. However, it is his plethora of moves and inside/outside versatility off of that speed that leaves offense's reeling.

Luke Goedeke

Aidan Hutchinson, the second-overall pick in the 2022 draft, showcased his prowess when he amassed 9.5 sacks in his inaugural season, finishing second in Defensive Rookie of the Year voting. The Lions' prized possession has continued to rise in 2023 and has a team-high 4.5 sacks. In addition, Hutchinson has broken up four passes, forced and recovered a fumble and grabbed another interception (his fourth). Hutchinson is tied for the NFL lead with 29 quarterback pressures, per Next Gen Stats. He assails the pocket with a myriad of rush moves in his toolbox and possesses violent hand work along with a sudden inside counter move. Hutchinson has lateral explosiveness and on Sunday, Bucs' right tackle Luke Goedeke will vie to protect Baker Mayfield. After initially playing guard last season, the Bucs moved Goedeke to right tackle following Tristan Wirfs' switch to the quarterbacks' blindside. The former Central Michigan standout plays with solid anticipation as a second-level blocker and can anchor in pass protection. With acute awareness on the field and a competitive demeanor, Goedeke stays ready to take on the league's top-tier edge rushers.

Lavonte David

Lions'Sam LaPorta has recorded the most receptions (22) by a tight end in his first four career games in NFL history while also leading all rookies at the position in targets (27) and receiving yards (242) in 2022. LaPorta has ignited the offense, becoming the safety net for Jared Goff. LaPorta can threaten zone coverage and changes the tempo of his routes to generate separation. Lions' Offensive Coordinator Ben Johnson builds gameplans to get playmakers in space and on Sunday, LaPorta will go up against one of the most feared off-ball linebackers in the game, Lavonte David. In 2023, David has accumulated 28 tackles, three for loss and a sack. No. 54 has elite read-and-react skills paired with a trigger that puts him in prime positioning. David has natural hip fluidity to limit tight ends and running backs in zone coverage, while also possessing the skills to blanket tight ends in man coverage. The longtime Buc sniffs out screens and sweeps and has an innate understanding of angles/ leverage. An up-and-coming star against a legendary veteran – this will be a matchup to monitor.

Antoine Winfield Jr.

The Lions' offensive attack starts with the run game, featuring a gap-heavy scheme (duo, counters, traps and power). The diverse ground game also features outside and inside zone to help set up explosives and a dynamic play-action game with extensive route concepts in Ben Johnson's system. Both running back David Montgomery and Swiss Army Knife Amon-Ra St. Brown are the beneficiaries. The Buccaneers will strive to stifle Montgomery near the line of scrimmage and limit the wiggle yards from St. Brown in space off his lethal two-way go's. One of the most pivotal fixtures in the group is safety Antoine Winfield Jr., who currently leads the Bucs in tackles with 31. Winfield is back to playing free safety after spending much of the 2022 season as the club's primary nickel corner. Despite his role on paper manning the post, the Bucs' architects are still maximizing Winfield's skillset by putting him near the line of scrimmage. Winfield's angles to the ball are efficient against the run and pass. He plays with urgency and Winfield's recognition of play designs bolsters his leverage. Winfield strikes with fervor and whether he meets Montgomery on a blitz or comes downhill to limit St. Brown from gaining YAC-yards, Winfield will play a key role against the Lions.

Related Content

Latest Headlines