The Tampa Bay Buccaneers, who earlier in the season became the first NFL team to secure a regular-season victory in Germany, now head in the opposite direction in order to be part of another historic day in league history.
The Buccaneers will travel to Glendale, Arizona to take on the Cardinals on Sunday as part of the NFL's first-ever Christmas NFL triple-header. After the Green Bay Packers play in Miami in the early afternoon and the Denver Broncos meet the Rams in Los Angeles later in the afternoon, the Bucs and Cardinals will put a Christmas bow on the day of football and good cheer.
There have only been 24 previous NFL games played on Christmas, including the playoffs, and all 22 of the regular season occurrences have been since 1989. The Buccaneers have never before been involved in one. While players and coaches will find it necessary to celebrate the holidays either early or late, they will be focused on football on Sunday with the NFC South race going down to the wire.
Tampa Bay brings a 6-8 record into the Arizona tilt, which remains one game better than the other three teams in the division. The NFC South title may come down to the Buccaneers' Week 17 and 18 games against Carolina and Atlanta, but a win in Arizona could potentially afford them with a two-game lead with two weeks to play. The New Orleans Saints play at Cleveland on Saturday, while the Carolina Panthers will be at home against Detroit and the Atlanta Falcons will be on the road in Baltimore. All three opened the week as underdogs.
The Buccaneers will be looking to get back on track after a pair of dispiriting losses to the 49ers and Bengals, the latter of which involved the rapid dissolving of a 17-0 second-quarter lead. After playing perhaps their best half of football this season against Cincinnati, the Bucs committed four second-half turnovers to aid the Bengals in scoring 34 unanswered points. After the game, Head Coach Todd Bowles said it was another instance of "Bucs vs. Bucs," with a series of self-inflicted wounds rendering a good start moot.
Bowles also said the Buccaneers had "three games left to try to save [their] season," and that starts in Arizona on Sunday. The Cardinals come into the game with on an even rougher recent run, having lost four in a row and six of their last seven. In that span, they also lost starting quarterback Kyler Murray to a season-ending knee injury. The team turned to veteran Colt McCoy to take over but he was knocked out of last weekend's game with a concussion and was ruled out for Sunday's contest by Wednesday. Thus, Trace McSorley will be making his first NFL start.
The Cardinals have been hit by a series of misfortune in 2022, including injuries that have at one point or another knocked out of most of their starting offensive line. D.J. Humphries, Rodney Hudson and Justin Pugh all still remain on injured reserve (guard Will Hernandez recently returned from I.R.), and they have recently been joined by two of the team's key offensive weapons in tight end Zach Ertz and wide receiver Rondale Moore.
Whoever is directing the Cardinals' offense on Sunday will still be surrounded by plenty of impressive weapons. Despite missing the first six games of the season on an NFL suspension, wideout DeAndre Hopkins leads the team with 63 receptions for 713 yards, averaging nearly 90 yards per game since his return. Speedy wideout Marquise Brown, acquired in a stunning draft-night trade in April from Baltimore, missed time in the middle of the season due to injury but is back in action, giving the Cardinals a very dangerous pair of starting receivers. And running back James conner has produced 852 yards from scrimmage and seven touchdowns.
Arizona's defense features star-caliber performers at the front and back ends in defensive end J.J. Watt and safety Budda Baker. Watt chased down Brett Rypien for three sacks in last week's loss in Denver, giving him 9.5 on the season. Baker, who has made three straight Pro Bowls, makes plays all over the field and leads the team with 102 tackles while tying for the team lead with two interceptions.
The Buccaneers and Cardinals will be a part of NFL history on Sunday, but Tampa Bay's focus is on the present, as an unusual but still dramatic NFC South division race turns into the final stretch run.
GAME AND BROADCAST DETAILS
Tampa Bay Buccaneers (6-8) at Arizona (4-10)
Sunday, December 25, 8:20 p.m. ET
State Farm Stadium (capacity: 65,000)
TV Broadcast Team: Mike Tirico (play-by-play), Cris Collinsworth (analyst), Melissa Stark (reporter)
Radio: 98Rock (WXTB, 97.9 FM), Flagship Station
Radio Broadcast Team: Gene Deckerhoff (play-by-play), Dave Moore (analyst), T.J. Rives (reporter)
ALL-TIME HEAD-TO-HEAD SERIES
Earlier this season, the Buccaneers lost to the Kansas City Chiefs, which served to tie up the all-time series between the two teams at 7-7. (Perhaps we can call Super Bowl LV the tiebreaker.) That means the Buccaneers now have an all-time tie with two teams, the Chiefs and the Philadelphia Eagles (8-8…in this case let's not invoke the postseason results). Tampa Bay could add a third team to that list with a victory in Glendale, Arizona on Sunday.
The Buccaneers actually had a one-game lead in the series after a 38-35 victory in Arizona in 2010. However, the Cardinals then ripped off a three-game winning streak including a 13-10 decision in Tampa in 2013 and 38-33 shootout in Arizona in 2017. Those games were tight; in between was a 40-7 blowout in the desert. The Buccaneers fired back with a back-and-forth 30-27 thriller at Raymond James Stadium three years ago, trimming Arizona's lead in the series to 11-10.
Obviously, there's been no shortage of points scored in recent Tampa Bay-Arizona tilts. In the most recent game in 2019, Peyton Barber cracked the end zone on a one-yard run with 1:43 left for the three-point win, countering two Kyler Murray-to-Christian Kirk touchdowns in the second half. In the 2017 Arizona win, the Bruce Arians-led Cardinals raced out to a 31-6 behind three Carson Palmer touchdown passes before Ryan Fitzpatrick relieved Jameis Winston and led a frantic comeback with three TD passes of his own. Ultimately, the rally fell short. In the three-point Bucs win in 2010, both Aqib Talib and Geno Hayes scored defensive touchdowns and LeGarrette Blount famously hurdled a Cardinals defender on a 48-yard run.
The all-time Bucs-Cards series began with a rather notable game, the first home victory in franchise history on December 18, 1977 at Tampa Stadium. After an 0-26 start to the franchise ledger beginning in the inaugural 1976 season, the Buccaneers got their first victory in New Orleans in Week 13 of the '77 campaign then came back and made it two in a row by taking down the then-St. Louis Cardinals in the season finale, 17-7. Quarterback Gary Huff only completed seven passes in the win for Tampa Bay, but four of them went to Morris Owens for 138 yards, including a 62-yard touchdown.
It's been a very streaky series. The Bucs won three of the first four from 1977-85, and then the Cardinals went on a five-game run from 1986-88, which included two games each in '86 and '87 even though the two teams were not division foes. Tampa Bay then won six of the next eight from 1989-2010 before Arizona's current three-game run.
- Buccaneers General Manager Jason Licht came to Tampa in 2014 after two years as the director of player personnel in Arizona. Licht also worked in the Cardinals' personnel department in 2008.
- In 2013, Licht was involved in the Cardinals' search for a new head coach, which eventually settled on Indianapolis Colts interim Head Coach Bruce Arians. Arians spent five seasons at the helm in Arizona, becoming the winningest head coach in franchise history and earning his second Associated Press Coach of the Year award. After a one-year retirement in which he went into broadcasting, Arians returned to the sideline as the Bucs' head coach from 2019-21. Arians remains with the team as a senior advisor to the general manager.
- Buccaneers Head Coach Todd Bowles was the defensive coordinator for Arians' first two seasons as the head coach in Arizona before he landed the head coaching job for the New York Jets.
- A number of assistants on Bowles' staff also previously worked with the Cardinals. That includes Assistant Head Coach/Run Game Coordinator Harold Goodwin (2013-17), Offensive Coordinator Byron Leftwich (2016-18), Senior Offensive Assistant Coach Rick Christophel (2013-17), Pass Game Coordinator/Inside Linebackers Coach Larry Foote (2015-18), Wide Receivers Coach Kevin Garver (2013-18), Safeties Coach Nick Rapone (2013-17), Cornerbacks Coach Kevin Ross (2013-17), Assistant to the Head Coach Mike Chiurco (2013-17), Outside Linebackers Coach Bob Sanders (2015-17) and Head Strength & Conditioning Coach Anthony Piroli (2015-17). Foote also played for the Cardinals in 2014.
- Buccaneers quarterback Blaine Gabbert played for Arizona in 2017, starting all five games in which he played and compiling a 2-3 record.
- Tampa Bay Defensive Assistant Rashad Johnson played the first seven of his eight seasons in the NFL as a safety with the Cardinals (2009-15).
SENIOR COACHING STAFFS
- Head Coach Todd Bowles
- Assistant Head Coach/Run Game Coordinator Harold Goodwin
- Offensive Coordinator Byron Leftwich
- Run Game Coordinator/Defensive Line Coach Kacy Rodgers
- Pass Game Coordinator/Inside Linebackers Coach Larry Foote
- Special Teams Coordinator Keith Armstrong
- Head Coach Kliff Kingsbury
- Co-Pass Game Coordinator/QBs Cam Turner
- Co-Pass Game Coordinator Spencer Whipple
- Defensive Coordinator Vance Joseph
- Assistant Head Coach/Special Teams Coordinator Jeff Rodgers
KEY 2022 ROSTER ADDITIONS
- P Jake Camarda (fourth-round draft pick)
- WR Russell Gage (UFA)
- G Luke Goedeke (second-round draft pick)
- DL Logan Hall (second-round draft pick)
- T Fred Johnson (FA)
- WR Julio Jones (FA)
- TE Ko Kieft (sixth-round draft pick)
- G Shaq Mason (trade–NE)
- CB Zyon McCollum (fifth-round draft pick)
- OLB Carl Nassib (FA)
- S Keanu Neal (UFA)
- TE Cade Otton (fourth-round draft pick)
- TE Kyle Rudolph (FA)
- S Logan Ryan (FA)
- RB Rachaad White (third-round draft pick)
- TE Stephen Anderson (UFA)
- QB David Blough (FA)
- WR Marquise Brown (Trade-BAL)
- G Will Hernandez (UFA…currently on injured reserve/designated for return)
- RB Keaontay Ingram (sixth-round draft pick)
- CB Christian Matthew (seventh-round draft pick)
- TE Trey McBride (second-round draft pick)
- ILB Ben Niemann
- OLB Myjai Sanders (third-round draft pick)
- G Lecitus Smith (sixth-round draft pick)
- OLB Cameron Thomas (third-round draft pick)
- ILB Nick Vigil (UFA…currently on injured reserve)
- RB Darrel Williams (FA…currently on injured reserve)
ADDITIONAL 2022 CHANGES OF NOTE
· While the Bucs continue to maintain enviable continuity on their coaching staff, there is a new person in the corner office. In March, Bruce Arians stepped down after three years as the head coach and took on a new role as a senior advisor to the general manager. Todd Bowles was promoted from defensive coordinator to take his place. Bowles previously served as the New York Jets' head coach from 2015-18 before rejoining Arians when the latter came on as the Buccaneers' head coach in 2019.
· With Bowles stepping up the Bucs needed a new defensive coordinator and they essentially named two of them. Defensive Line Coach Kacy Rodgers added the title of Run Game Coordinator while Outside Linebackers Coach Larry Foote switched to inside linebackers and added the title of Pass Game Coordinator. They are in effect co-defensive coordinators. Bob Sanders joined the staff to take over for Foote in the outside linebackers room. Foote made his switch after Inside Linebackers Coach Mike Caldwell landed the defensive coordinator position in Jacksonville under new Head Coach Doug Pederson.
· The Buccaneers had two key players retire after the 2021 season, but only one of them stayed retired. While quarterback Tom Brady eventually elected to return 40 days after announcing he was stepping away from the game, his long-time buddy Rob Gronkowski walked away for good, leading to big changes in the Bucs' tight end room. While veteran Cam Brate returned, O.J. Howard left in free agency and the Buccaneers subsequently drafted Cade Otton and Ko Kieft and signed veteran Kyle Rudolph.
· Tampa Bay's defense also saw the departure of two front-seven stalwarts from the extremely successful 2020-21 seasons, as neither DL Ndamukong Suh nor OLB Jason Pierre-Paul was re-signed. The team signed veteran standout Akiem Hicks and drafted Houston's Logan Hall 33rd overall to address depth up front and are relying on 2021 first-round pick Joe Tryon-Shoyinka to step up on the edge.
· In March, the Cardinals agreed to contract extensions with General Manager Steve Keim and Head Coach Kliff Kingsbury, both of whom now have deals through the 2027 season. However, last week the team announced that Keim is taking an indefinite leave of absence due to health-related issues. In their announcement, the Cardinals noted that Keim's duties would be handled on an interim basis by Vice President, Player Personnel Quentin Harris and Vice President, Pro Personnel Adrian Wilson.
· In August, the Cardinals also reached an agreement with fourth-year quarterback Kyler Murray on a five-year contract extension running through the 2028 season. Unfortunately for both the team and the player, Murray suffered a torn ACL in his left knee on a non-contact play last Monday night against the New England Patriots. Colt McCoy now steps in as the new starter and is backed up by fourth-year player Trace McSorley. The Cardinals also signed quarterback David Blough off the Vikings' practice squad following Murray's injury.
· In March, the Cardinals signed cornerback Jeff Gladney, formerly a first-round pick by the Vikings, after he had been out of football in 2021 following a domestic violence arrest. Tragically, Gladney was involved in a fatal car accident in May.
· Arizona lost several notable players in free agency in the spring. Edge rusher Chandler Jones, who reached double-digit sacks in each of his five full seasons with the Cardinals, signed with the Las Vegas Raiders, wide receiver Christian Kirk got a lucrative contract in Jacksonville and running back Chase Edmonds landed in Miami. (Edmonds has since been traded to Denver.)
· Following a loss to San Francisco in Week 11, the Cardinals fired Offensive Line Coach for an incident that occurred in Mexico City, where the game was played. Arizona adjusted by having Tight Ends Coach Steve Heiden take over the tutelage of the offensive linemen and having Offensive Assistant Mike Bercovici work with the tight ends.
· The Cardinals intended to head into the season with James Saxon coaching the running backs and Don Shumpert assisting him. However, Saxon was placed on administrative leave in August following news that he was facing domestic battery charges, which led to his resignation, and Shumpert left the team during the season to pursue other opportunities. Co-Pass Game Coordinator Spencer Whipple has since been working with the running backs.
· After former Buccaneers and Cardinals assistant Mike Caldwell landed the defensive coordinator job on Doug Pederson's new staff in Jacksonville, former Cardinals Defensive Line Coach Brentson Buckner left Arizona to man the same post in Jacksonville. Arizona replaced Buckner with Matt Burke, who most recently had served as the Jets' game management coach in 2021.
Scoreboard Watching – By the time the Buccaneers take the field in State Farm Stadium on Sunday night there will only be one other NFL game still to be played in Week 16, the Monday night affair between the Chargers and Colts. In fact, after flying out to Phoenix on Friday, Tampa Bay players and coaches can spend most of Saturday, if they so choose, watching the Falcons, Panthers and Saints try to catch them. Those three teams all play in the early-afternoon slot on Saturday, with the Falcons at Baltimore, the Saints at Cleveland and the Panthers at home against the Lions. The right combination of results could put the Buccaneers up by two games in the NFC South with two weeks of play remaining, but Tampa Bay could also come out of Week 16 in a dead heat in the division. Tampa Bay's last two games are against the Panthers and Falcons, and the home contest against Carolina in Week 18 is the one that is most likely to determine the final standings. Still, what happens over a long weekend while the Bucs are holed up in Phoenix will set the stage for the final division battles.
Can the Bucs Stem the Turnover Tide? – Through the first 11 games of the season, the Buccaneers' offense only committed nine giveaways, which allowed the team to keep its turnover ratio close to even despite a surprising lack of takeaways on defense. Over the past three weeks, however, Tampa Bay has coughed the ball up nine times, and that doesn't even include a failed fake punt that technically was scored as an unsuccessful fourth-down run. Those turnovers have led to 34 points for the opposition, as the Bucs have gone from being +10 on points scored off turnovers to -18 in that brief span. The Buccaneers have also now dropped into a tie for 28th in the NFL in turnover ratio, at -5. The Buccaneers are coming off the prototypical "tale of two halves" game against Cincinnati, in which they dominated in the first two quarters and built a two-touchdown lead before collapsing after halftime and allowing 31 second-half points. The difference was clearly turnovers – none in the first half, four plus the failed fake punt in the second half. If the Buccaneers hope to play a full 60 minutes of quality football and leave Arizona with a much-needed win, they will need to get back to their turnover-free ways of the first two-thirds of the season.
Who's in and Who's Out? – Both the Buccaneers and Cardinals are navigating some injury issues this week that could seriously affect how strong of a lineup they can field on Christmas night. Tampa Bay is hoping that right tackle Tristan Wirfs, their lone Pro Bowl selection this year, can return from an ankle injury that has cost him the last three outings. His presence would be helpful in trying to slow down J.J. Watt, who had three sacks last week in Denver. It is less likely that top defensive performers Vita Vea (calf) and Jamel Dean (toe) will return from their injuries in time to suit up against the Cardinals. Safeties Antoine Winfield Jr. and Mike Edwards, the former a Pro Bowl alternate, will be on the watch list this week as both returned from injury absences in Week 15 but neither was able to play a full game. Winfield is trying to overcome an ankle injury and Edwards is working to get back to full speed after a hamstring issue. Tampa Bay was also down to just two outside linebackers in Week 15 as both Genard Avery (abdomen/oblique) and Carl Nassib (pectoral) were sidelined by injuries. In Arizona, the most pressing issue is at the game's most important position, as Kyler Murray was lost to an ACL tear in Week 14 and his replacement at quarterback, Colt McCoy, sustained a concussion in Week 15The Cardinals ruled McCoy out on Wednesday and will turn to Trace McSorley, who would be making his first NFL start. His backup would be David Blough, who was signed off Minnesota's practice squad after Murray's mishap. Arizona also recently placed shifty wideout Rondale Moore on injured reserve. Moore is fourth on the team with 41 catches for 414 yards.
Another Prime-Time Showcase – The Buccaneers will play their fifth prime-time game on Sunday, and their results on that stage in 2022 have been mixed so far. The season started off on a great note with a Sunday Night Football win in Dallas by a 19-3 score, but three weeks later the Bucs lost to Kansas City on the same platform, 41-31. In Week Eight, Tampa Bay drew a home Thursday Night Football date against Baltimore but fell, 27-22. The Bucs evened the prime-time ledger in dramatic fashion in Week 13, as Tom Brady led a signature fourth-quarter comeback on Monday Night Football to nip the visiting New Orleans Saints, 17-16. The Bucs have actually won six of their last seven prime-time games played on the road if one includes the 2020 postseason. Night games on the road add an extra challenge as players and coaches figure out how to handle the extra idle time away from home during the day of the contest, but the Buccaneers will seek to remain focused in order to put together a strong effort when kickoff finally arrives.
Containing Cardinals' Stars – Arizona's season obviously hasn't gone as expected, as the team has sunk to 4-10 with six losses in its last seven games after a 2021 playoff season built expectations for 2022. The recent injury to Kyler Murray certainly won't help the Cardinals, who have officially been eliminated from playoff content, finish out the season on a strong note. However, like every other team in the NFL, the Cardinals can't be taken lightly, especially not by a visiting team that is on a losing streak of its own. In particular, the Buccaneers need to be concerned with limiting the impact of one star player on each side of the ball, wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins and defensive end J.J. Watt. Since his return from suspension in Week Seven, Hopkins has accounted for 44.3% of the Cardinals team air yards, according to NFL Next Gen Stats. The only player in the NFL who has been targeted in the end zone more often than Hopkins since 2016 is the Bucs' Mike Evans. As for Watt, his three-sack game last weekend lifted his season total to 9.5, putting him on the verge of his sixth double-digit sack season and his first since 2018. Watt also leads the Cardinals with 40 quarterback pressures, according to NGS. With Zach Allen out this week after undergoing hand surgery, Watt is by far the Cardinals' most worrisome pass rusher.
1. Buccaneers G Shaq Mason vs. Cardinals DE J.J. Watt
Speaking of J.J. Watt, his Next Gen Stats pre-snap location heat map makes it clear that the Cardinals move him all over their defensive front, and he will rush from both the edge and the interior part of the line. Watt is one of only three players in the NFL who have logged 250-plus snaps at both EDGE and DT. When he moves inside, he's going to get plenty of matchups against Shaq Mason, the Buccaneers starting right guard and one of the line's most experienced players. Watt is fifth among NFL interior defensive linemen this year with his aforementioned 40 QB pressures, although only 15 of those have come when he's rushing from the inside. Pro Football Focus charges Mason with allowing only one sack this season, even though his 1,001 offensive snaps is the most in the league. Watt, whose incredible career includes 111.5 sacks over 12 years, knows every trick in the book when it comes to rushing the passer, but Mason, who has 112 regular season starts and another 13 in the playoffs, has seen it all, as well.
2. Cardinals WR Marquise Brown vs. Buccaneers CB Sean Murphy-Bunting
Arizona traded for Brown in the offseason to give Murray a deep threat, and while he has only averaged 10.2 yads on his 57 catches, the Cardinals definitely try to hit him downfield frequently. Even though he missed five games in the middle of the season, Brown still leads the team with 22 targets on vertical routes. Brown lines up on the left side of the Cardinals' formation 75% of the time, so he will largely be the responsibility of the Bucs' right cornerback. With Jamel Dean likely to miss the game due to a toe injury, that will be Sean Murphy-Bunting, who played every snap in Week 15 in Dean's absence. When the Buccaneers go to man coverage, they will probably be more likely to double DeAndre Hopkins, giving less help to whoever is on Brown. Murphy-Bunting, who had missed five of the previous eight games due to injury and had only a limited role on defense prior to that, took advantage of his chance to play in Week 15. According to Next Gen Stats, he only allowed two receptions for nine yards on six targets as the nearest defender, though one of those was a touchdown. He also registered a stuff in run support.
3. Buccaneers RB Rachaad White vs. Cardinals S Budda Baker
Rachaad White has taken over as the starter in the Bucs' backfield in recent weeks, though he remains in a virtually equal timeshare with veteran Leonard Fournette. Like Fournette, White is a threat both running between the tackles and catching passes out of the backfield. He leads all rookie running backs with 41 catches, which he has turned into 247 yards and a touchdown. And even though he's a rookie he has been proficient enough in pass protection to remain on the field for all three downs. He'll need all of those skills against Budda Baker, the Cardinals' Pro Bowl safety, who plays all over the field and is both speedy and athletic. Baker leads the Cardinals with 102 tackles, 61 of which have come on running plays. Since the start of the 2019 season, he has more hustle stops (42) than any other defensive back in the NFL. (Hustle stops are defined as tackles resulting in a successful play for the defense on which the player covers 20-plus yards from snap to tackle.) Baker has also recorded six quarterback pressures this season, fifth most among NFL DBs, so he and White may be doing battle both out in the flat on routes and in the backfield around the quarterback.
4. Cardinals QB Trace McSorley vs. Buccaneers S Mike Edwards
Trace McSorley, a sixth-round pick by the Ravens in 2019, will be making his first regular-season NFL start on Sunday. After he relieved the injured McCoy last week, McSorley completed seven of 15 passes for 95 yards and two interceptions. Head Coach Kliff Kingsbury anticipates McSorley having a stronger showing after a full week of practicing with the first-team offense. The former Penn State standout may not be as electric of a runner as Kyler Murray, but he can definitely contribute with his legs. He ran a 4.57 40-yard dash prior to his draft and has vision and toughness as a scrambler. Of course, the Buccaneers will be hoping that McSorley's relative inexperience will allow them to force some negative plays with pre-snap disguises and unexpected pass-rush schemes. One of the defenders most suited to take advantage of any mistake the first-time starter makes is safety Mike Edwards, who is known for his nose for the football. Edwards returned from a hamstring injury to a limited role on defense in Week 15 but is expected to be on the field more on Sunday after another week to round into shape. Despite not getting a full-time starting role until this season, Edwards has produced nine interceptions and three touchdowns in 62 games since 2019, the most by any Bucs defensive back in that span.
DNP: Did not participate in practice
LP: Limited participation in practice
FP: Full participation in practice
NL: Not listed
- OLB Genard Avery (abdomen/oblique) – WEDS: DNP; THURS: DNP; FRI: DNP. Game Status: Out.
- QB Tom Brady (rest) – WEDS: NL; THURS: LP; FRI: FP. Game Status: Not listed.
- ILB Lavonte David (rest) – WEDS: NL; THURS: NL; FRI: DNP. Game Status: Not listed.
- CB Jamel Dean (toe) – WEDS: DNP; DNP; FRI: DNP. Game Status: Out.
- S Mike Edwards (hamstring) – WEDS: NL; THURS: NL; FRI: LP. Game Status: Questionable.
- WR Mike Evans (rest) – WEDS: NL; THURS: DNP; FRI: FP. Game Status: Not listed.
- DL Akiem Hicks (rest) – WEDS: NL; THURS: NL; FRI: DNP. Game Status: Not listed.
- WR Julio Jones (knee) – WEDS: LP; THURS: LP; FRI: LP. Game Status: Questionable.
- OLB Carl Nassib (pectoral) – WEDS: DNP; THURS: DNP; FRI: DNP. Game Status: Out.
- S Keanu Neal (toe) – WEDS: DNP; THURS: LP; FRI: LP. Game Status: Questionable.
- T Donovan Smith (foot) – WEDS: DNP; THURS: DNP; FRI: DNP. Game Status: Out.
- NT Vita Vea (calf) – WEDS: DNP; THURS: DNP; FRI: DNP. Game Status: Out.
- T Josh Wells (back) – WEDS: LP; THURS: LP; FRI: FP. Game Status: Questionable.
- Antoine Winfield, Jr. (ankle) – WEDS: DNP; THURS: DNP; FRI: DNP. Game Status: Questionable.
- T Tristan Wirfs (ankle) – WEDS: LP; THURS: LP; FRI: FP. Game Status: Questionable.
- DL Zach Allen (hand) – WEDS: DNP; THURS: DNP; FRI: DNP. Game Status: Out.
- OL Kelvin Beachum (knee/ankle) – WEDS: DNP; THURS: DNP; FRI: LP. Game Status: Questionable.
- WR Marquise Brown (groin) – WEDS: NL; THURS: LP; FRI: LP. Game Status: Questionable.
- OL Rashaad Coward (chest) – WEDS: FP; THURS: FP; FRI: FP. Game Status: Not listed.
- WR Greg Dortch (knee) – WEDS: LP; THURS: LP; FRI: FP. Game Status: Not listed.
- OL Max Garcia (shoulder) – WEDS: LP; THURS: LP; FRI: LP. Game Status: Questionable.
- LB Markus Golden (ankle) – WEDS: LP; THURS: LP; FRI: FP. Game Status: Not listed.
- CB Antonio Hamilton (back) – WEDS: DNP; THURS: DNP; FRI: LP. Game Status: Questionable.
- CB Christian Matthew (shoulder) – WEDS: LP; THURS: LP; FRI: FP. Game Status: Not listed.
- QB Colt McCoy (concussion) – WEDS: DNP; THURS: DNP; FRI: LP. Game Status: Out.
- CB Byron Murphy (back) – WEDS: DNP; THURS: DNP; FRI: DNP. Game Status: Out.
- LB Ezekiel Turner (ankle) – WEDS: LP; THURS: LP; FRI: FP. Game Status: Not listed.
- S Charles Washington (chest) – WEDS: LP; THURS: LP; FRI: LP. Game Status: Questionable.
- CB Marco Wilson (neck) – WEDS: LP; THURS: LP; FRI: FP. Game Status: Not listed.
Domed stadium with retractable roof. Evening forecast: Clear skies, evening low of 44, 3% chance of rain, 52% humidity, winds out of the NNE at 4 mph.
Head referee: John Hussey (21st season, 8th as referee)
· Favorite: Buccaneers (-4.0)
· Over/Under: 40.5
INDIVIDUAL STAT LEADERS
Points Scored: K Ryan Succop, 95
Touchdowns: RB Leonard Fournette, 6
Passing Yards: QB Tom Brady, 3,897
Passer Rating: QB Tom Brady, 89.2
Rushing Yards: RB Leonard Fournette, 568
Receptions: WR Chris Godwin, 81
Receiving Yards: WR Mike Evans, 888
Interceptions: CB Jamel Dean/Mike Edwards, 2
Sacks: DL Vita Vea, 6.5
Tackles: ILB Devin White, 106
Points Scored: K Matt Prater, 59
Touchdowns: RB James Conner, 7
Passing Yards: QB Kyler Murray*, 2,368
Passer Rating: QB Kyler Murray*, 87.2
Rushing Yards: RB James Conner, 624
Receptions: WR DeAndre Hopkins, 63
Receiving Yards: WR DeAndre Hopkins, 713
Interceptions: S Budda Baker/LB Isaiah Simmons, 2
Sacks: DE J.J. Watt, 9.5
Tackles: S Budda Baker, 102
(* On injured reserve.)
TEAM STAT RANKINGS
Scoring Offense: 29th (17.6 ppg)
Total Offense: 18th (342.7 ypg)
Passing Offense: 4th (268.4 ypg)
Rushing Offense: 32nd (74.3 ypg)
First Downs Per Game: 11th (20.6)
Third-Down Pct.: 20th (37.8%)
Sacks Per Pass Attempt Allowed: 1st (3.04%)
Red Zone TD Pct.: 18th (53.7%)
Scoring Defense: 10th (20.6 ppg)
Total Defense: 7th (314.7 ypg)
Passing Defense: t-5th (194.5 ypg)
Rushing Defense: 17th (120.2 ypg)
First Downs Allowed Per Game: t-4th (18.1)
Third-Down Pct. Allowed: 10th (37.7%)
Sacks Per Pass Attempt: 5th (8.75%)
Red Zone TD Pct. Allowed: 24th (61.0%)
Turnover Margin: 28th (-5)
Scoring Offense: 19th (20.9 ppg)
Total Offense: 21st (327.1 ypg)
Passing Offense: 18th (215.4 ypg)
Rushing Offense: 20th (111.8 ypg)
First Downs Per Game: 21st (19.8)
Third-Down Pct.: 25th (35.8%)
Sacks Per Pass Attempt Allowed: 15th (7.26%)
Red Zone TD Pct.: 10th (60.5%)
Scoring Defense: 32nd (26.6 ppg)
Total Defense: 20th (351.9 ypg)
Passing Defense: 23rd (237.6 ypg)
Rushing Defense: 13th (114.3 ypg)
First Downs Allowed Per Game: 26th (21.5)
Third-Down Pct. Allowed: 25th (43.2%)
Sacks Per Pass Attempt: 25th (6.21%)
Red Zone TD Pct. Allowed: 32nd (69.2%)
Turnover Margin: t-16th (-1)
WHAT TO WATCH FOR
· Brady also needs just one more victory to be the first player in NFL history to reach 250 regular-season wins.
· Both tight end Cameron Brate and wide receiver Chris Godwin have 33 career touchdowns. With one more, either one or both will tie Ring of Honor member Jimmie Giles for fourth place in franchise history in overall touchdowns. All 33 of Brate's touchdowns are receptions (Godwin has one rushing touchdown), meaning he is also one behind Giles for second place on the team's all-time list in that category.
· Godwin also has 423 receptions and needs only eight more to pass James Wilder (430) for second place on the Bucs' career list behind Mike Evans (670).
· Inside linebacker Lavonte David has played 163 regular season games, all for the Buccaneers. His next one will pull him into a tie with Ring of Honor member John Lynch (164) for the fifth most in franchise history.
· Wide receiver Mike Evans has 888 receiving yards on the season. He needs 112 more to get to 1,000 in 2022 and extend his record of consecutive seasons to start a career with at least 1,000 receiving yards to nine. That would also tie Time Brown for the longest streak of 1,000-yard receiving seasons at any point in a player's career.
· Head Coach Todd Bowles on what is concerning about the Cardinals' defense: "They're very athletic – they have a lot of speed and they're very opportunistic. They can come from anywhere, obviously. Vance [Joseph] can blitz them from anywhere on the field. They're pretty athletic up front with J.J. [Watt] and then Budda [Baker] on the back end. They've got two very good linebackers they drafted the last two years that try to come at you on the edge. They cause some consternation if you're not on your toes. We've got to make sure we're sharp on the blitz pickups and make sure we understand we see everybody on the field. They don't just blitz one or two guys – all 11 guys are options."
· Cornerback Carlton Davis on facing QB Trace McSorley in his first NFL start: "Regardless of the quarterback and who he is, they're in the NFL and they've got a game plan and they're game-planning like we are, so we can't underestimate anybody. Like you said, in previous games, it didn't turn out how we thought it would as far as them having a backup quarterback in and them being [shorthanded] because of that. I think every week, regardless of who's up, we have a job to carry out and this week we've got to carry out our job and get it done."
· WR Russell Gage on playing on Christmas night: "I'm excited about it, personally. You know, growing up, I watched games on Christmas Day and Thanksgiving, and I was like, 'Man, this is awesome – they get to play on a holiday like this.' I would go outside and play football with my friends, and we get to play on the day and we're playing for something – we're playing for a purpose. We're still first in our division, we've got a lot of things at stake. I personally have never been in the playoffs, so I'm excited."
· Bowles on how difficult it is to win a division in the NFL: "They're hard to come by. Any division you win, regardless of whether you're 17-0 or whether you're 4-13, you win the division and you have a division banner. Then you try out for your next goal to get to the Super Bowl. Our first goal is to win the division, so we're trying to do that. If we can win the division, then we'll try and focus on getting playoff games and winning the Super Bowl."