1. QB Tom Brady
Yes, this can be said every week but the matchup with the Chiefs this week pins two of the league's best quarterbacks against each other. "A clash of championship-caliber quarterbacks" as this week's news release put it.
Brady has re-taken the lead in all-time passing touchdowns with 566. Saints quarterback Drew Brees is nestled at 565 and will be stuck there for the time being as he misses a few games with injury. But if we narrow the window down to when Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes became the starter in Kansas City in 2018, both he and Brady are in the top five lists of a few major categories. Mahomes has a first-ranked 103 passing touchdowns since 2018, while Brady has a fourth-ranked 78. Mahomes has 12,163 passing yards in that span, good for second behind only Atlanta's Matt Ryan an dBrady ranks fifth at 11,367. Mahomes and Brady are also the top two active quarterbacks with at least 40 starts in terms of career win percentage and Sunday will mark the first time since at least the 1970 merger that two such players will go head-to-head.
There's also the fact that Brady himself has a winning record over the Chiefs and the Chiefs with Mahomes. He's 7-4 in his career all time and 4-0 against a Mahomes-led team in both the regular and postseason.
It's definitely going to be a matchup to watch, even if they won't be going directly against each other on the field at the same time.
2. WR Mike Evans
Evans currently leads the Bucs in receiving yards this season with 563. He has nine touchdowns to his name, surpassing last year's total ofc eight and tying for fourth-most in the league in 2020. He's an integral part of the Bucs' offense when he's on the field and this offense is going to have to score some points this week. The defense will limit Mahomes and the league's highest scoring offense as much as they can, but Kansas City hasn't put up less than 23 points. The only team that beat the Chiefs this season had to put up 40 to the Chiefs' 32 to do it.
Now, we know the Bucs' offense is capable of scoring that many, of course. They've put up over 40 points this season twice and have scored more than 32 points in all of their wins so far in 2020. Evans can certainly help them do it again – especially with how productive he is in the red zone.
3. RBs Ronald Jones, Leonard Fournette, LeSean McCoy
In games where the Bucs have put up a sizable amount of points, they've also been pretty good on the ground. The Bucs are 4-1 in games where they have over 100 rushing yards. The last time they put up over 40 points, they had 210 rushing yards, in fact. That was in large part due to Ronald Jones, who had a career-high 192 yards on the ground, including an incredible 98-yard touchdown run that I'm still not over.
The Bucs did put up 45 points on the Raiders in Week Seven with just 85 rushing yards but against a defense that ranks 26th against the run, the Bucs should have an opportunity to get their ground game involved this Sunday.
How the carries end up shaking out will be interesting to see. We haven't seen a lot of McCoy as of late with both Fournette largely taking over third-down duties. However, McCoy was with the Chiefs last year. It'd be neat to see him be able to go against the team he won a Super Bowl with and be a big factor.
View some of the top photos from Buccaneers Week 12 practice at the AdventHealth Training Center.
4. S Antoine Winfield Jr.
Winfield Jr. and the Bucs' secondary in general will have their work cut out for them against a guy like Mahomes and the weapons he has. What makes Mahomes so dangerous is his ability to make something out of seemingly nothing. Defensive Coordinator Todd Bowles said this week that his defensive backs are just going to have to 'plaster' to their man and make sure to not let up until the play is dead.
Part of the job of the safety is just to help out your teammates, wherever on the field they may be. That will be Winfield's job. He's got a knack for anticipating what quarterbacks are doing and he's an extremely intelligent player. Those are traits that should prove useful this week. Expect Winfield to be all over the field on Sunday as the defense tries to contain Kansas City's top-ranked passing offense.
5. ILB Lavonte David
David will also likely need to be everywhere in putting up with the Chiefs' offensive arsenal. David's strengths lie in his reads and awareness coupled with his instincts to finish the play once he diagnoses it. His sideline-to-sideline speed is going to be needed in a backyard-football type matchup.
Both he and Devin White will both have to be disciplined in the run-game, too. Kansas City's rookie Clyde Edwards-Helaire is everything he was cracked up to be in the pre-draft process. CEH leads the Chiefs in rushing yards with 655, which is the seventh-most in the NFL this season. He also has four rushing touchdowns. And though Kansas City has the 16th ranked rushing offense, you don't want to add a ground game to Mahomes' already stacked weaponry.