Buccaneers (6-7) vs. Lions (3-9-1)
All-time record: Detroit leads the all-time series 31-26
Road record: 13-16
Key Matchups (via Scott Smith):
1. Buccaneers WR Breshad Perriman vs. Lions CB Amani Oruwariye
Veteran Darius Slay is the type of high-level matchup cornerback that teams often use to shadow an opponent's top receiver, and the Lions definitely use him in that capacity. With Mike Evans unlikely to play, that would mean Slay is likely to commit himself to covering Chris Godwin. That should create plenty of battles between Oruwariye, a rookie fifth-rounder who has recently played opposite Slay with Rashaan Melvin out, and either Perriman or Justin Watson, depending upon the offensive formation. Oruwariye will try to prevent Perriman from providing the chunk plays downfield that he has generated aplenty in the last two games. Perriman had eight catches in those games and half of them went for 27 or more yards. Oruwariye is a bigger corner at 6-2 and 205 pounds, which matches up well with Perriman's size. The rookie has made the most of his recent chance to play, notching an interception and two passes defensed and generally drawing praise for his work in the defense.
2. Lions LG Joe Dahl vs. Buccaneers DL Ndamukong Suh
Dahl is another former fifth-round pick of the Lions, in 2016, and he has come into his own in his fourth year as a very effective starter at left guard. The 6-4, 310-pound Dahl has quietly played well in the final season of his rookie contract, but he'll have a tough challenge in Week 15 in Suh and the Buccaneers' powerful defensive interior. Suh, Vita Vea and Will Gholston have been the driving forces in Tampa Bay's top-ranked rush defense, which is giving up just 75.5 yards per game and 3.4 yards per carry. Buccaneer opponents have tried 74 runs up the middle this year but haven't fared well on those plays, gaining just 2.20 yards per carry, the lowest against any defense in the NFL. If the Buccaneers' defense can slow down Detroit's running game early, as they have against most opponents this year, then the Dahl-Suh battle will be about keeping the Bucs' intense interior pass-rusher away from rookie QB David Blough. Suh has just 1.5 sacks this year but he's recorded 11 QB hits and, according to his head coach, has been playing particularly well down the stretch.
3. Buccaneers TE O.J. Howard vs. Lions S Tracy Walker
According to Football Outsiders, the Lions' defense ranks 26th in coverage of opposing tight ends, specifically, and have given up 50.8 yards per game to that position. That should be music to Howard's ears, as he is working on a strong finish to the season after struggling for much of the year to produce at the expected levels. In the last two games, Howard has caught nine passes for 164 yards and has had several downfield grabs that demonstrated the mismatch problems he can create for smaller and/or slower defenders. Walker is one of the Lions' most active defenders; he leads the team with 82 tackles but also has an interception and five passes defensed. Walker and fellow safety Tavon Wilson may find themselves trying to keep up with Howard down the seams at times on Sunday.
4. Lions WR Danny Amendola vs. Buccaneers CB Sean Murphy-Bunting
The Lions signed Amendola to work out of the slot after he was released by Miami and he has indeed generated good production in that role with 50 catches for 539 yards and a touchdown. That's something he has been doing in the NFL for 11 years, to the tune of 5,223 career receiving yards. One of the very first catches Amendola made as a Lion was a 47-yard TD in the opener in which he started out in the left slot, dragged across the middle and then popped out wide open in the right flat for a short pass that he took all the way to the house. Trying to prevent plays like that will be the Bucs' rapidly-improving rookie corner Sean Murphy-Bunting, who starts on the outside in the base defense but then usually moves into the slot in the nickel. At times, the Bucs have elected to roll their extra coverage help to the outside in such situations, trusting Murphy-Bunting to hold up in one-on-one work. The rookie has very good feet and change of direction skills, which makes him the right type of defender to try to stick with Amendola and his veteran route-running ability.
The game will kick off at 1:00 p.m. ET. The broadcast can be found on FOX, locally. It will also be available on a live stream that can be accessed through the Buccaneers Official App and Yahoo Sports. See below for details.
How to Watch:
Dick Stockton, Mark Schlereth, Jen Hale
The stream is available through Yahoo Sports, the Buccaneers Official App and online at Buccaneers.com.
*Geographic and device restrictions apply. Local & primetime games only. Data charges may apply.
How to Listen:
*In-market fans can listen through the Bucs Official App
Gene Deckerhoff, Dave Moore, T.J. Rives
98ROCK (97.9 - Tampa)
The Boot (103.9 FM – Brooksville)
ESPN SW Florida (99.3 FM – Ft. Myers/Naples/Punta Gorda)
Citrus (95.3 FM - Homosassa)
WLKF (96.7 FM and 1430 AM – Lakeland)
WYGM (740 AM/ 96.9 FM – Orlando and Melbourne)
WSTU (1450 AM - Port St. Lucie)
ESPN Tallahassee (97.9 FM – Tallahassee)
WTMP-FM 96.1, 101.9 and WMGG-AM 1470 (Tampa)
WIXC – AM 1060 (Melbourne/Orlando)
Sirius/XM Channel 88
On the Bucs Official App*
*Access restricted to Tampa area