1. QB Tom Brady
Brady spent the first two decades of his career in the AFC and so while meetings between the Bucs and Chargers only happen every four years, Brady has played them much more than that. He's 9-2 against the franchise in both the regular and postseason and in those 11 games has thrown for 3,284 yards and 20 passing touchdowns. That's an average of 298.5 yards per game which is… *checks notes* …good.
Brady is also getting the hang of this offense more and more and it's showing every week. In Denver, he committed zero turnovers and completed a couple of long passes for chunk plays that got the Bucs down the field in a hurry. The offense put up 26 points (the defense added an extra two with a safety) and Brady got eight different receivers involved. Though Chris Godwin will be sidelined for Sunday's game, Brady still has plenty of options and will be looking to spread the wealth again against a good Chargers defense.
2. TE Rob Gronkowski
Brady isn't the only one that's had his fair share of matchups against the Chargers. In fact, Gronkowski has never lost to them. He boasts a 4-0 record and in those games has 19 receptions for 240 yards and five touchdowns. Translation: also good. Gronkowski as a receiver will be tested against this group, though. The Los Angeles defense is ninth against the pass and ranks eighth in total defense.
We saw Gronkowski get more involved in the receiving game last week after he spent the prior week telling us all that he was, "here to block, baby!" Cue the future Hall of Fame tight end catching six of seven targets and recording almost 50 yards while converting multiple third downs for the Bucs. Arians said he doesn't see Gronkowski's usage changing for this next game so fans may be in for a treat and perhaps his first 'Gronk Spike' of the season.
3. DL Ndamukong Suh
Suh is another one who has spent a decent amount of time in the AFC and also has four career games against the Chargers. In those games he totaled 2.0 sacks, seven quarterback hits, 18 tackles and four tackles for loss. Not too shabby for a nose tackle. This will be his first time going up against Los Angeles as a member of the Bucs and the defensive line just happens to be getting more involved each week, it seems.
With a rookie quarterback under center, the Bucs will want to make him uncomfortable and there aren't too many other guys a young player wants to see less than Suh getting through the line. Interior guys like Suh and Vita Vea and Will Gholston have made things easier for edge rushers to be effective, too. Just look at the Bucs' last game where the registered 6.0 sacks. Or the game before where they registered 5.0. Suh himself has 2.0 sacks after recording both in the Bucs' game inside Raymond James Stadium against Carolina. Maybe he'll add to that total as Tampa Bay returns to home turf.
4. S Antoine Winfield Jr.
Of course your September NFC Rookie of the Month wasn't going to get left off this list. It seems like every week the Bucs' second-round draft pick is making plays – and that's because he is. So far this season the rookie phenom has 2.0 sacks, which is the second-most among rookies this year, ranks first among first years in quarterback hits with three and has the second-most tackles of any rookie with 23.
He has already showed his versatility firsthand, too. In Denver, cornerback Sean Murphy-Bunting went down with an injury, vacating the Bucs' nickel responsibilities. It was Winfield Jr. that stepped into the role, having been cross trained at slot corner in training camp. Arians said Murphy-Bunting will be full-go for this weekend and both of those guys being healthy means a ton of options for this defense on the back end. What will these guys do next?
5. ILB Lavonte David
I know I said I'd keep David on this list until he got recognition. Well, he got recognition at the NFL's first opportunity being named NFC Defensive Player of the Month for September alongside the aforementioned rookie. It was a start – but this quest for credit is far from over. Through the first three games of the season, David has made signature plays in every game. He got his first interception since Week Four of last season against the Broncos this past Sunday. He forced a fumble last time the Bucs were home. It's become a wait and see what Lavonte will do next thing every week and I don't know about you, but I think that's a pretty fun game to play.