The Buccaneers are in the hunt for their fourth consecutive win as they hit the road for San Diego to take on the 5-6 Chargers. Here are some individual matchups that could play a key role in deciding the Week 13 showdown:
Buccaneers DE Noah Spence vs. Chargers DE Joey Bosa
Generally, the matchups are offense vs. defense, but this one is too good to pass up. Bosa has 4.5 sacks and a forced fumble in just seven games played and was named the Defensive Rookie of the Month in October. When the Bucs' defense takes the field, the Chargers will be dealing with another standout rookie pass rusher in Spence, who has 5.5 sacks and 3 forced fumbles this season and was November's Defensive Rookie of the Month.
Buccaneers CB Brent Grimes vs. Chargers QB Philip Rivers **The Chargers' defense is second in the league with 23 takeaways this season. The Buccaneers have forced 20 turnovers (tied for fourth most) with nine of those takeaways coming in the active three-game win streak. Brent Grimes will look to add to his two interceptions this season against Rivers and the Chargers offense that have given up 12 picks this year, the fourth most in the NFL. Grimes has had huge success against Rivers in the past. In three games against the Chargers, Grimes has four interceptions.
Buccaneers S Bradley McDougald vs. Chargers Tight EndsThe Chargers have a one-two punch at tight end with rookie Hunter Henry and future Hall of Famer Antonio Gates. Henry holds the yardage edge 371 to 290 while Gates had 30 catches, three more than Henry. Each player has five touchdowns this season, tied for the team lead. With two strong TE options, the Buccaneers pass coverage unit has an extra wrinkle to worry about and much of that responsibility could fall on McDougald. McDougald has 62 tackles this season and two interceptions, including the game-sealer last week against the Seahawks.
Buccaneers WR Mike Evans vs. Chargers CB Casey Hayward
The Chargers lead the NFL in interceptions with 14 this season. Hayward has accounted for six of them, also leading the league. He could be called upon to limit Mike Evans who is enjoying a true breakout season. He is Top Five in the league in receptions, receiving yards and TD catches and on pace to break Buccaneers single-season records in all three categories. Last week, he became just the fourth WR in NFL history to begin his career with three-straight 1,000-yard seasons.
Buccaneers RB Doug Martin vs. Chargers LB Korey Toomer**
Martin has increased his yardage in each contest since returning to the field in Week 10. Last week against the Seahawks he had 23 carries for 87 yards, 3.8 yards per carry. The week before, he had 63 on the ground, but added 42 receiving yards. The Chargers are allowing the sixth-fewest rushing yards per game (89.8), but their 15 rushing touchdowns allowed are second most in the NFL. Martin will look to pump up the Buccaneers rushing game and find the end zone and he'll have to contend with Toomer to do so. Toomer has 51 tackles this season along with three forced fumbles.
Buccaneers LT Donovan Smith vs. Chargers OLB Melvin Ingram
Complementing Bosa's pass rush, the Chargers have Ingram attacking from the other edge. He leads San Diego with six sacks this season, one year removed from a 10.5-sack season. If Ingram's rushing from Winston's blind side, it will be up to Donovan Smith to keep his quarterback clean. The Bucs have allowed 23 sacks this season (tied for 12th-fewest). In the last two weeks, against two of the league's top defenses in the Chiefs and Seahawks, Winston was only sacked one time.