The Tampa Bay Buccaneers will make history on Sunday following a transatlantic adventure. The NFL's first-ever game in Germany on Nov. 13 will feature the Buccaneers and Seattle Seahawks at Allianz Stadium at 9:30 ET on NFL Network. The matchup will include two teams that lead their respective divisions, as Tampa Bay holds a 4-5 record in first place of the NFC South and the Seahawks remain atop the NFC West hierarchy with a 6-3 record. After engineering a sensational last-minute comeback to beat the Rams 16-13 in Week Nine, the Bucs will look to build momentum. In a historic outing, both teams will take the field in the hopes of adding a tally in the win column and of leaving a mark with the audience in Germany. Meanwhile, Seattle may have distanced themselves from the remnants of the 'Legion of Boom' era and have created a reload after the departures of Russell Wilson and Bobby Wagner, however, Geno Smith has revitalized the team into a prime NFC contender. The Seahawks are cruising into Week 10 on a four-game win streak, looking to solidify their hold on the conference. Conversely, the Bucs are hoping to propel themselves forward out of a midseason slump. The intriguing matchup will highlight many matchups and individual performances that could weigh heavily on the outcome of the clash in Week 10. Here is a breakdown of five Buccaneers to observe on Sunday.
The Buccaneers' run defense has had ups and down throughout the 2022 slate, an uncharacteristic transition after three years of setting the standard in the league in that category. The unit will face a test on Sunday in Munich against a Seattle team that averages 133.9 yards on the ground per game, with breakout rookie Kenneth Walker III spearheading the ground attack. Rashaad Penny, a former Seattle first-round pick, suffered a fractured fibula in Week Five that prematurely ended his season, but the Seahawks have not missed a beat with the emergence of Walker. The first-year player has accumulated 570 rushing yards, 11 touchdowns and is averaging 5.1 yards per carry. Walker possesses great burst off initial cuts and can alter course with suddenness. He attacks the open field with decisiveness and evasive maneuvers to bypass defenders. Additionally, Walker has great contact balance to continue through congestion and Bucs inside linebacker Devin White will play a crucial role in limiting his effectiveness in Munich. In Week Nine, the Bucs held the Rams to 206 total yards of offense and White was a contributing factor to the unit's success. He has the ability to shift from gap to gap to track bounce runners to the perimeter and possesses rare closing speed in pursuit. White has sideline-to-sideline range that will be crucial in limiting the Seahawks' rushing efficiency.
For Seattle, the signing of former Chargers' edge rusher Uchenna Nwosu to a two-year deal in free agency may not have frantically occupied headlines but the under-the-radar signing has paid dividends for Seattle. With the Seahawks' employment of 3-4 concepts in 2022, Nwosu fits the outside linebacker mold. Through nine games, Nwosu has amassed 7.0 sacks and ranks third in the NFL with a pressure rate of 17.9 percent. He leads the NFL with 39 quarterback pressures and flashes speed off the edge. Nwosu wreaks havoc and Seattle moves him to both sides of the line, which means he will face Bucs' right tackle Tristan Wirfs. Wirfs is the anchor of the Bucs' offensive line and will once again face a rising star. Wirfs is quick out of his stance and can generate movement in the ground game with speed to the second level. Wirfs has not allowed a sack in 2022 according to Pro Football Focus and will face stellar competition on Sunday.
Vita Vea is playing at an elite level, with two sacks in Week Nine giving him a career-high mark of 6.5 on the season. That number is quite unorthodox for a nose tackle in today's NFL, where the interior defenders are mainly regarded as run stuffers, but with Vea's dynamic ability, he is kept on the field in clear passing situations on third down. With Akiem Hicks back on the field for Tampa Bay to eat up blockers, Vea has had more opportunities to invade the backfield. His combination of size and light, nimble feet are rare. Vea imposes his will at the point of attack and frequently bulldozes centers when he is in an isolated one-on-one matchup. The Seahawks acquired a new starting center in free agent pickup Austin Blythe, who played for the Rams and recently served as a backup to Kansas City's Creed Humphrey. Blythe has fought through lingering injuries to maintain continuity up front for Seattle. He is a technician with functional strength and showcases athleticism as a lead blocker in space. Blythe elevates the Seahawks perimeter runs as an outside zone blocker and he will meet Vea on Sunday in the trenches. Let the chess match commence.
Seattle stresses the edge with their run game, including quarterback designed rollouts, and Bucs outside linebacker Joe Tryon-Shoyinka will have a pivotal role in trying to mitigate the Seahawks' efficiency on the ground. After suffering a torn Achilles in the third quarter against the Ravens, Shaquil Barrett's season came to an abrupt ending. Without Barrett in the lineup, Tryon-Shoyinka needs to set the tone. Pass Game Coordinator Larry Foote spoke on the expectations surrounding Tryon-Shoyinka's progression, "I keep telling him, 'Give me that break out game. Four sacks or something crazy – be player of the week.' But he's playing hard, he's learning. I always tell people, he didn't play a lot of college football, so this is really only his second year as a starter playing college and pro. So, the arrow's pointing up, but he's got to keep going. We called Shaq [Barrett] down, so we're expecting big plays from him." In 2021, Tryon-Shoyinka played a variety of roles to maximize his time on the field, including rushing from the edge, the three-technique spot and he served as an off-ball linebacker. He is now able to specialize in one area as a 3-4 defensive end/OLB, flashing his pursuit skills in space and ability to close on the quarterback. Tryon-Shoyinka has yet to unleash his full potential, but Sunday against the Seahawks provides a perfect opportunity for him to become the catalyst. If he crashes in or over-pursues, that will leave a vacant gap for Geno Smith, a running back, or a receiver to exploit for a large gain. Setting the edge and maintaining gap discipline will be a large factor in the marquee matchup, beginning with Tryon-Shoyinka. He has incredible bend for his lengthy frame, a lethal bull rush and can diagnose and win with inside leverage on opposing tackles. Tryon-Shoyinka will be one to watch at Allianz Arena.
For much of the Bucs' 2022 slate, a No. 3 receiver has failed to emerge in 11 personnel, largely due to injuries that have nagged offseason acquisitions Russell Gage Jr. and Julio Jones – both of whom put on a show between the hash marks at training camp. In the Week Nine thrilling victory over the Rams, both Scotty Miller and Cade Otton became difference-makers that solidified the offense on the final, 60-yard, 35-second drive. With nine seconds left in regulation, Tom Brady hit Otton for a one-yard touchdown pass, sealing the 16-13 win. Otton ran a chip-and-release to perfection, selling the block then turning around in the flat to haul in Brady's precision pass between the numbers. When defenses allocate resources to stop Mike Evans and Chris Godwin, opportunities arise for Otton. If Jones is limited on a pitch-count in Munich, Otton could see a significant amount of playing time. As a rookie tight end - a position that rarely garners a smooth transition from the pros - Otton has earned the trust of Brady in his first year. He is an instinctive route-runner with quick feet in tight quarters and has a great feel for adapting speed inside of the route. Otton has reliable hands and is adept against man or zone coverages. He can adjust to the catch without losing momentum on his stride and has elevated the Bucs' offense through the 2022 season, making timely plays in crucial situations. Sunday could mark a breakout game in Munich for No. 88.