The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have lost two straight but not their grip on the NFC South lead, and now they will head to Arizona next Sunday to take on a Cardinals squad that has lost four straight and six of its last seven. The game will mark the first time the Buccaneers have ever played on Christmas and will be the final entry in a three-game set for the day, kicking off at 8:20 p.m. ET on NBC.
The Buccaneers failed to hold onto a 17-0 lead at home in Week 15, as the Bengals used a barrage of turnovers to score 34 unanswered points in a 34-23 victory at Raymond James Stadium. The loss dropped Tampa Bay to 6-8 but the New Orleans Saints' win over the Atlanta Falcons and the Carolina Panthers loss to Pittsburgh means the Buccaneers remain one game up on the other three teams in the division.
Tampa Bay will be looking for answers, once again, after perhaps their best half of football all season was washed away by a series of self-inflicted wounds in the second half. After the game, Head Coach Todd Bowles said the Bucs have to play smarter, and that they have three games left to save their season.
"We played hard, and we played tough," said Bowles. "We've got to play smart for four quarters. We have a lot of toughness. We've got to deal with adversity better. We've got to stop the miscues and Bucs versus Bucs."
In Arizona, the Buccaneers may be facing the Cardinals' third-string quarterback. Colt McCoy got the start on Sunday in Denver after Kyler Murray tore the ACL in his left knee the previous weekend, but McCoy suffered a concussion in the third quarter and did not return to the game. Trace McSorley, a former sixth-round pick by Baltimore in 2019, finished the game and could be in line for his first career start. He has played in a total of seven regular-season NFL games. Against the Broncos he completed seven of 15 passes for 95 yards and two interceptions as the Cardinals lost, 24-15.
The game will be the Buccaneers' fifth prime-time outing of the season, giving them a chance to go 3-2 in such contests. They beat Dallas on Sunday night in Week One, lost to Kansas City on Sunday Night in Week Two, lost to Baltimore on Thursday night in Week Eight and beat New Orleans on Monday night in Week 13.