Tampa Bay Buccaneers

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2020 Game Preview: Chiefs-Buccaneers, Week 12

The marquee quarterback pairing of Tom Brady and Patrick Mahomes is only the beginning of the offensive fireworks the Bucs and Chiefs will bring to the fight on Sunday as both conference playoff races heat up

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Six days after battling one of the NFL's stingiest defenses, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers will shift gears in Week 12 and try to keep up with the league's most explosive offense. Given that Patrick Mahomes and the Kansas City Chiefs are leading the league with 32.1 points scored per game and the Buccaneers are just a few spots back at 29.1 points per game, a wide late-afternoon NFL audience may be treated to a thrilling shootout at Raymond James Stadium Sunday.

That's practically an every-week occurrence for the Chiefs, whose last two decisions have been by 33-31 and 35-31 scores against the Panthers and Raiders, sandwiched around a bye week. The Buccaneers scored 45 or more points against both of those teams, so it stands to reason that they can also keep pace with Mahomes and company if the scoreboard starts to roll over Sunday.

This contest has been billed as one of the must-watch games of the NFL's 2020 season since the days right after the schedule dropped in the spring. Mahomes and Tom Brady are the obvious headliners (more on that below in the game's Top Storylines) as it's a matchup of the last two Super Bowl winning quarterbacks. Travis Kelce and Rob Gronkowski will be there, too, and while Kelce has taken the mantle of the NFL's most productive tight end from Gronkowski in recent years, both are still capable of providing highlight-reel plays. The Bucs have Mike Evans, Chris Godwin and Antonio Brown; the Chiefs can counter with Tyreek Hill, Sammy Watkins and Mecole Hardman and a whole lot of speed. Ronald Jones and rookie Clyde Edwards-Helaire are the fifth and seventh-leading rushers in the NFL, respectively. There are almost too many dangerous playmakers in this game to keep track of.

"They can stretch the field in a lot of different ways – vertically, horizontally," said Buccaneers Head Coach Bruce Arians of the Chiefs' offensive firepower. "They're good run-after-the-catch guys. They did a great job of building their roster with the kind of players they like. Every receiver they have can run. They're built on speed and Pat does a hell of a job distributing it to everybody."

Even without all the offensive star power, this game would draw eyes simply for its serious playoff implications. As the NFL hits Thanksgiving week and the postseason race starts to heat up, the Bucs-Chiefs matchup is the only one on this week's schedule that features one winning team from each conference. The Chiefs, who are looking to repeat as Super Bowl champions, are close to locking down their division but are in a battle with Pittsburgh for the only conference bye. The Buccaneers have more work to do but are very much in the thick of the NFC race. More on that below, too.

Could either defense switch up the script and keep this game from becoming a high-scoring affair? The Green Bay Packers were the NFL's hottest offense coming into Raymond James Stadium in Week Six and the Buccaneers' defense completely shut Aaron Rodgers and the Packers down in a 38-10 win. The Bucs have also shown stretches of complete defensive domination in a couple other games, notably in wins over Carolina and Las Vegas. However, Drew Brees and the Saints' explosive offense ran the Bucs off the field on Sunday night in Week Nine and the Bucs just gave up more than 400 yards to the Rams last offseason. Even if this one does become a shootout, the most important thing for the Buccaneers' defense will be to finish strong; as Mahomes has demonstrated again and again, no lead is safe when he's on the other side.

The Chiefs' defense features a handful of stars in do-everything DB Tyrann Mathieu, overwhelming defensive tackle Chris Jones and quick edge rusher Frank Clark but have had to do some shifting around at the cornerback spots during the season due to injuries. While Kansas City still ranks seventh in the league in scoring defense, allowing 21.4 points per game, it did give up 40 points in its lone loss, to Las Vegas, and had its two other largest point totals allowed in the last two outings. What the Buccaneers will strive to do, and what this Chiefs' defense will seek to deny, is present a balanced attack early and then get back into its early-season groove in terms of downfield passing plays.

The Buccaneers will finally get their bye week after Kansas City's visit, after which it will be a four-game sprint to the finish line and, hopefully, a playoff invitation. A win over the Chiefs would send the Bucs into their break on a high note and help them enter that final stretch with a great deal of confidence.

GAME AND BROADCAST DETAILS

Kansas City Chiefs (9-1) at Tampa Bay Buccaneers (7-4)

Sunday, November 29, 4:25 p.m. ET

Raymond James Stadium (capacity: 65,618…roughly 25% capacity will be in attendance)

Tampa, Florida

Television: CBS

TV Broadcast Team: Jim Nantz (play-by-play), Tony Romo (analyst), Tracy Wolfson (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

The Kansas City Chiefs have beaten just about every team they've faced for more than a calendar year, including San Francisco in Super Bowl LIV at the end of the last season. What the Chiefs haven't done in close to three decades is beat the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Obviously, that might be different if the Bucs had been on Kansas City's schedule last year, but now Tampa Bay will put its series streak on the line against the defending champs, who appear to be just as strong as they were a year ago. The Buccaneers' winning streak in the series currently stands at five games, their longest active run of victories against any team in the NFL. As a result, Tampa Bay has taken a 7-5 overall lead in the series, including a 4-2 record at home.

Even though the Bucs and Chiefs have only met a dozen times in 45 years, their shared history has some rather interesting moments. For instance, Tampa Bay's 3-0 victory in the 1979 regular-season finale, which clinched the team's first division title, remains the lowest-scoring contest in franchise history. Contrastingly, the year prior to that the Buccaneers scored big in a 30-13 win at Arrowhead Stadium that was the franchise's first-ever win against an AFC team.

The Buccaneers' current winning streak includes three straight contests from 2004-12 in which Tampa Bay's offense was in high gear, leading to final scores of 34-31, 30-27 and 38-10. The middle game in that run went to overtime in Kansas City as the Buccaneers stormed back from a 21-point deficit to win, marking what is still the biggest comeback win in team annals. Most recently, the 2016 Buccaneers upset a 7-2 Chiefs team in Kansas City, 19-17, thanks in large part to a fourth-quarter interception in the end zone by safety Chris Conte.

The Bucs-Chiefs series also featured the notable debut of Joe Montana in Kansas City after he had left the 49ers, who were going with former Buccaneer Steve Young under center. Opposing Montana at quarterback for the Buccaneers was former Chief Steve DeBerg, who had led Kansas City to the AFC Championship Game in 1991, though by the end of Kansas City's 27-3 win he had been relieved by Craig Erickson. That is the last game in the series that the Chiefs have won.

NOTABLE CONNECTIONS

·    Buccaneers Head Coach Bruce Arians spent four seasons (1989-92) as the running backs coach on Marty Schottenheimer's staff in Kansas City.

·    Kevin Ross, Tampa Bay's cornerbacks coach, had a distinguished 14-year playing career in the NFL, most of it with the Chiefs. Ross first arrived as a seventh-round draft pick in 1984 and spent a decade with the team, earning a spot in the franchise's Hall of Fame and its Ring of Honor at Arrowhead Stadium. Ross also returned to Kansas City for his final playing season in 1997.

·    Buccaneers Running Backs Coach Todd McNair also came into the league as a Chiefs' draft pick, selected in the eighth round in 1989. McNair played six seasons (1989-93, 1996) in Kansas City.

·    Buccaneers defensive lineman Rakeem Nunez-Roches originally entered the NFL as a sixth-round draft pick by the Chiefs in 2015. He played in 34 games with 16 starts over three seasons in Kansas City.

·    Tampa Bay running back LeSean McCoy won a Super Bowl ring with the Chiefs last season. In his one season in Kansas City, McCoy contributed 646 yards from scrimmage and scored five touchdowns.

·    Bucs kicker Ryan Succop was a seventh-round draft pick by Kansas City in 2009; as the 256th and final selection in that draft he got the title of "Mr. Irrelevant." Succop played his first five seasons with the Chiefs, making 119 of 147 field goal attempts.

·    Chiefs offensive tackle Mike Remmers spent the entire 2012 season and half of 2013 on Tampa Bay's practice squad.

·    Defensive end Demone Harris, who is currently on Kansas City's practice squad, first entered the league as an undrafted free agent with Tampa Bay in 2018. Harris split time between the Bucs' practice squad and active roster as a rookie and for the first half of the 2019 campaign, appearing in a total of three regular-season games.

·    Kansas City Quarterbacks Coach/Passing Game Coordinator Mike Kafka spent 2014 with the Buccaneers, splitting time between the practice squad and the active roster but not appearing in a regular-season game.

SENIOR COACHING STAFFS

·    Tampa Bay:

·    Head Coach Bruce Arians

·    Assistant Head Coach/Run Game Coordinator Harold Goodwin

·    Defensive Coordinator Todd Bowles

·    Offensive Coordinator Byron Leftwich

·    Special Teams Coordinator Keith Armstrong

·    Kansas City:

·    Head Coach Andy Reid

·    Offensive Coordinator Eric Bieniemy

·    Defensive Coordinator Steve Spagnuolo

·    Assistant Head Coach/Special Teams Coordinator Dave Toub

KEY 2020 ROSTER ADDITIONS

Buccaneers:

·    QB Tom Brady (UFA)

·    WR Antonio Brown (FA)

·    RB Leonard Fournette (FA)

·    TE Rob Gronkowski (T-NE)

·    T Joe Haeg (UFA)

·    WR Tyler Johnson (5th-round draft pick)

·    RB LeSean McCoy (FA)

·    DT Steve McLendon (T-NYJ)

·    C A.Q. Shipley (FA)

·    K Ryan Succop (FA)

·    RB Ke'Shawn Vaughn (3rd-round draft pick)

·    S Antoine Winfield, Jr. (2nd-round draft pick)

·    T Tristan Wirfs (1st-round draft pick)

Chiefs:

·    RB Le'Veon Bell (FA)

·    DE Taco Charlton (FA – currently on injured reserve)

·    DE Mike Danna (fifth-round draft pick)

·    RB Clyde Edwards-Helaire (1st-round draft pick)

·    LB Willie Gay (2nd-round draft pick)

·    TE Antonio Hamilton (UFA)

·    C Daniel Kilgore (FA)

·    G Kelechi Osemele (FA)

·    T Mike Remmers (UFA)

ADDITIONAL 2020 CHANGES OF NOTE

Buccaneers:

·    Though it is noted in the "Roster Additions" section above, it's worth further elaborating on the extremely dramatic change the Buccaneers made at the game's most important position. After five seasons, the team moved on from Jameis Winston, the first-overall pick in the 2015 draft, and filled the starting quarterback spot with the man many consider the G.O.A.T., former Patriot Tom Brady. Brady brings 20 years of experience and six Super Bowl championship rings to Tampa in one of the most notable free agent signings in NFL history. Brady's move to the Buccaneers also prompted former Patriots star tight end Rob Gronkowski to come out of retirement and he was promptly traded to Tampa Bay for a fourth-round draft pick. Another former teammate of Brady's, albeit for just one game, arrived in late October when the Buccaneers signed WR Antonio Brown.

·    Tampa Bay debuted new uniforms in Week One in New Orleans. The uniforms are largely inspired by the ones the team wore during its Super Bowl era and overall from 1997 through 2013. Some elements of the uniforms introduced in 2014 remain, such as the sharper, more detailed skull-and-crossed-swords logo and the larger flag on the helmet (though not as large as before). The uniforms debuting in 2020 also include an all-pewter version that is completely unique in team and NFL history and was worn for the first time in Denver in Week Three.

·    The Buccaneers have two new additions to their coaching staff in 2020: Defensive/Special Teams Assistant Keith Tandy and Assistant Strength & Conditioning Coach Cory Bichey. Tandy worked at the high school and college levels in 2019, the latter at his alma mater of West Virginia, but he begins his NFL coaching career with the same team that drafted him in 2012. Tandy spent six seasons in Tampa as a safety and special teams standout before finishing his playing career in Atlanta in 2018. Bichey comes to the Buccaneers from Mississippi State University, where he previously worked under current Buccaneers Head Strength & Conditioning Coach Anthony Piroli.

·    The Buccaneers used their franchise tag during the 2020 offseason for the first time in eight years. That tag was employed to retain outside linebacker Shaq Barrett, who went from a rotational reserve in Denver to the NFL's 2019 sack leader after signing with the Bucs as an unrestricted free agent. Barrett's 19.5 sacks in his first year with the Buccaneers broke Warren Sapp's single-season franchise record and made him one of the team's top priorities in the offseason. Barrett and the Bucs were unable to reach agreement on a long-term deal during the 2020 offseason, in part due to the uncertainties caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, so Barrett will play on the tag's one-year contract this fall.

·    The Buccaneers lost one of their key defensive players in Week Five when third-year defensive lineman Vita Vea suffered a broken leg and was placed on injured reserve, ending his season. Vea recorded 2.0 sacks through the first five games and was a key member of the team's league-leading run defense.

Chiefs:

·    As one might expect from a defending Super Bowl champion, the Chiefs did not make extensive changes in the offseason. There were a couple of minor moves on the coaching staff, with Quarterbacks Coach Mike Kafka adding the title of Passing Game Coordinator and Andy Hill joining the team as an assistant special teams coach. The change for Kafka is seen as a promotion as the Chiefs are thought to be grooming him as the next offensive coordinator if Eric Bieniemy leaves for a head coaching job elsewhere.

·    Three players who were part-time starters on the Chiefs' defense in 2019 left via free agency: cornerback Kendall Fuller, defensive end Emmanual Ogbah and linebacker Reggie Ragland.

·    The Chiefs have a new punter for the first time in 15 years. That job had been handled very well by Dustin Colquitt since 2005, but the Chiefs released the veteran punter in April, two days before signing undrafted rookie Tommy Townsend. Townsend, a former Florida Gator, held onto the job and is averaging 47.1 yards per punt.

·    Laurent Duvernay-Tardif, who was the Chiefs starting right guard for most of the past five seasons, chose to opt out due to the COVID-19 pandemic. He was one of three Chiefs players to make that decision, along with running back Damien Williams and rookie tackle Lucas Niang.

TOP STORYLINES

The G.O.A.T and the Future G.O.A.T.? – Earlier this week, The Ringer's Rany Jazayerli considered the question of whether we've ever had a young athlete so quickly enter the conversation of who will be a sport's 'greatest of all time' as appears to be happening with Patrick Mahomes. The timing is no coincidence. Jazayerli's first mention of Mahomes is followed quickly by the fact that he will be meeting up with the well-established current G.O.A.T., Tom Brady, this weekend. Sunday's game at Raymond James Stadium has been one of the most highly anticipated on the entire NFL schedule since it dropped in the spring solely because it involves those two generational talents, one poised to slowly take the baton from the other (Brady isn't planning on going away just yet). The two have met three times before, when Brady was a Patriot, with the marquee matchup being the 2018 AFC Championship Game. Brady denied Mahomes his first Super Bowl appearance on that day, but the Chiefs went all the way thanks to his comeback heroics the following year. Could this be a Super Bowl LV preview? The Chiefs are certainly well-positioned for a title defense, with a 9-1 record and the league's highest-scoring offense. The Buccaneers have a tougher road to their own home stadium in February but, well, they do have the G.O.A.T., and very realistic playoff hopes. Regardless of whether this is the first of two Brady-Mahomes games this year or the only meeting, all eyes will be on the Bucs and Chiefs on Sunday due to that unparalleled quarterback matchup.

Keeping Pace in the Race – From the standpoint of the teams' relative security in their playoff positions, the Buccaneers have more at stake on Sunday than do the Chiefs. Tampa Bay dropped to 7-4 with its Monday night loss to the Rams and has a 4-4 record in conference games that doesn't currently hold up well in tiebreakers. Since the Saints seem like a near-lock to get to at least 10 wins, given their 8-2 record and six remaining games, the Buccaneers have very little margin for error if they hope to win the NFC South. If the Saints keep winning, Tampa Bay's best way in will be as one of the three Wild Card teams, and they are currently in relatively good position to take one of those spots. That said, the team that is just outside the seven-team NFC picture right now is the Chicago Bears, who have a head-to-head win over Tampa Bay. There's a reason why Arians told his players two weeks ago that they were essentially already playing playoff games. The Chiefs have a pretty secure three-game lead over the Raiders in the AFC West but can set their sights a little higher in the conference. Only one team in the AFC will get a first-round bye this year, and the 10-0 Steelers currently have the poll position for that spot. The Chiefs could end up with 14 or 15 wins and still have to play in the opening round. That makes every remaining game pretty significant for Kansas City, too, starting Sunday at Raymond James Stadium.

Taking It Away – While the Buccaneers are second in the league with 19 takeaways, that doesn't tell the full story. Their turnover ratio of +5 is only tied for seventh and they have not won the turnover battle within in a single game since Week Eight against the Giants. That's very significant, because Tampa Bay is 6-0 when it wins that battle and 1-4 otherwise. At one, after a three-game winning streak ending in that contest against New York, the Buccaneers had a 20-point different over their opponents in terms of points scored off turnovers. That edge has shrunk to just five points over the last three outings. Tampa Bay's defense did produce two interceptions that led to 10 points in the narrow loss to the Rams on Monday night, but just one more might have changed the final outcome of the game, or one fewer giveaway on offense. Obviously, the Chiefs' offense is very hard to stop – they've only been held below 26 points once all season – and the Bucs may have to match Mahomes score for score if they want to come away with a victory. That would be a lot more likely if the defense was able to set up a couple short fields with takeaways, and if Tom Brady and the Bucs' offense avoided making things any easier for Mahomes.

Revving the Run Game Engine – The Bucs' offense was riding high after its 46-23 win over Carolina in Week 10, a game in which Tampa Bay scored on nine straight drives and never had to punt. The best thing about that offensive output was its balance; it was the first game in team history in which the passing attack produced 300-plus net yards and the running game surpassed 200 yards. This came on the heels of a historically low ground game output in the Sunday night loss to New Orleans, in which the Bucs only ran five times for eight yards. Much of that was the result of situation – the Bucs started with four straight three-and-outs and were quickly down by three touchdowns – but their loss to the Rams in Week 11 was never more than a one-score game and the rushing attack was still bottled up. Of course, Los Angeles has an excellent run defense, while the Chiefs have allowed 133.5 yards per game on the ground and rank 26th in that category. The Bucs are likely to emphasize getting their rushing attack going on Sunday, as they did in Carolina, and if they are successful they could also win the time-of-possession battle and keep Mahomes on the sideline as much as possible. Ronald Jones' career game in Charlotte shows what he's capable of when given decent holes to get through the line, with sharp cuts and great speed in the open field.

Block and Tackle – The Buccaneers needed to do two things to slow down the Rams' often-potent offense on Monday night: Block the running lanes and tackle well in the open field. They got the job halfway done. Tampa Bay's usually stellar run defense was at it again on Monday, holding the Rams to 37 yards on 20 carries, nearly 100 yards below their per-game average coming in. However, Jared Goff completed 39 passes, nearly two-thirds of them to wideouts Robert Woods and Cooper Kupp, and those two often tacked on extra yards after the catch. That was due in part to some uncharacteristic tackling problems for the Bucs' defense, particularly in the secondary. Tampa Bay defenders know they have to get that issue resolved quickly because the Chiefs are loaded with players who are great at adding yards after the catch, and one missed tackle on a player like Tyreek Hill could result in a breakaway touchdown. Said Bruce Arians: "I thought we tackled as poorly as we've ever tackled in that ballgame. Especially in the first half, we gave up like 70 yards run-after-catch on five-yard routes twice. That's un-Buc-like for us. I'm not used to seeing that. We've got to get back. [In the] second half we did a much better job of it. We've got to play like that the whole time, especially against this team."

KEY MATCHUPS

1. Buccaneers WR Chris Godwin vs. Chiefs S Tyrann Mathieu

There are a variety of ways that Godwin and Mathieu could cross paths on Sunday, as Kansas City uses Mathieu all over their defense and the Bucs do many different things with Godwin, as well. Through Kansas City's first nine games this season, Mathieu had played 46% of his snaps as a slot corner, 28% as a safety and 24% as a hybrid linebacker in the box. That role in the slot will surely bring Mathieu in contact with Godwin, as he has taken 53% of his snaps in that location. As he continues to distance himself from his broken finger, Godwin is getting back to his huge role in the Bucs' passing attack; he played all but one snap against the Rams and was targeted 10 times, resulting in seven catches for 53 yards and a touchdown. Though he's missed a good amount of time to various injuries this season, Godwin's numbers from 2019 showed that he is one of the most effective slot receivers in the entire NFL. But he's much more than that to the Bucs' offense. He's often specifically designed into the team's blocking schemes on running plays, which is another way he could do battle with Mathieu when the Chiefs' defender is playing up in run support. And if the Bucs try again to get the ball deep – Godwin was targeted on one deep pass against the Rams, Tyrann Mathieu the Safety could end being the over-the-top help that Brady and Godwin have to avoid. Both Godwin and Mathieu bring a very physical style to their respective games, so any battle between the two is sure to be very hard-fought.

2. Chiefs RT Mike Remmers vs. Buccaneers OLB Shaq Barrett

In addition to all of its skill-position firepower, the Chiefs' offense features a strong pair of bookend tackles in Eric Fisher and Mitchell Schwartz, both of whom went to the Pro Bowl in 2018. However, Schwartz is currently on injured reserve due to back problems, which has put Remmers into the lineup at right tackle, the third position he's played for Kansas City this year. Remmers has a lot of experience, with 84 career starts during stints with the Panthers, Vikings and Giants, and obviously his versatility has come in handy for Kansas City, who signed him in the offseason for depth. Since he stepped in for Schwartz four games ago, Remmers has been very impressive in the running game, showing good power and the ability to drive defenders off the line. As a pass blocker he may not be as dominant as Schwartz but he's sound and consistent in his technique. This Sunday he'll get a test from Barrett, who continues to have a very fine season despite a lower sack total than last year's incredible explosion of 19.5. Barrett has the quick first step and should challenge Remmers' quickness and footspeed and rushes around the edge. According to NFL stat service Radar360, Barrett is tied with the Chiefs' Chris Jones for second in the NFL with 30 quarterback pressures, and according to NFL Next Gen Stats he has a pressure rate of 14.2% that ranks fourth in the NFL. That's actually a higher pressure rate than he had in his huge 2019 season (13.9%).

3. Buccaneers G Ali Marpet (or Ryan Jensen or Aaron Stinnie) vs. Chiefs DT Chris Jones

After missing three games due to a concussion, Marpet was a full participant in practice to start this week, though he will not exit the NFL's concussion protocol until he can practice without it causing more symptoms. If Marpet can play, the Buccaneers will go back to him at left guard and Ryan Jensen at center, and that would be good timing considering that fill-in center A.Q. Shipley is now dealing with a neck injury. If Both Marpet and Shipley are unable to play, Aaron Stinnie would step in at left guard and make his first NFL start. The Bucs obviously hope that Marpet can return, as he was generating Pro Bowl buzz before his injury and would be an excellent counter to Jones, one of the NFL's hardest interior linemen to stop. Even without Marpet, the Buccaneers showed they could handle such a challenge in Week 11 when they shut out the Rams' Aaron Donald, one of the few defensive tackles one could reasonably rank ahead of Jones. Jones. In less than five seasons, Jones has already racked up 38.5 sacks, including a team-leading 5.5 this year. Like Donald, Jones has an extremely quick get-off at the snap – Next Gen stats has him clocked at an average of 0.91 seconds when pass rushing, third among interior linemen – but he's also 6-foot-6 and he uses his enormous wingspan to keep blockers off him and power them back into the pocket. Marpet has the power to anchor against such defenders and keep them at bay, which will be quite useful if he can get back into the lineup in Week 12.

4. Chiefs TE Travis Kelce vs. Buccaneers LB Lavonte David

Obviously, there isn't one Bucs defender who is going to be matched up on Kelce all afternoon, but David will be an important part of the plan to try to keep the incredibly productive tight end in check. Last week against the Rams' talented TE duo of Gerald Everett and Tyler Higbee, David had a team-high three tackles on completions to those two, and he also logged a pass defensed. David has broken up five passes this season and last year he ranked as one of the best coverage tight ends in the NFL according to Next Gen Stats. Next Gen calculated his coverage success rate at 64% and his yards per target at 5.0, both of which were second best among all NFL linebackers. Of course, very few defenders or defenses succeed in shutting down Kelce, who has only failed to reach 50 receiving yards in one game this season. He is averaging 5.5 catches and 69.4 yards per game as he follows up on a 2019 season that saw him break the all-time record for yards by a tight end. Kelce obviously has very good rapport with Patrick Mahomes and can pick up big chunks of yardage by finding open spots when Mahomes breaks containment and improvises. Kelce spends most of his time lined up in the slot or out wide, from where he can stress defenses and create mismatches with his size-speed combination and his sharp route-running.

INJURY REPORT

Key:

DNP: Did not participate in practice

LP: Limited participation in practice

FP: Full participation in practice

NL: Not listed

Buccaneers:

· CB Jamel Dean (concussion) – WEDS: DNP; THURS: DNP; FRI: DNP. Game Status: Out.

· WR Chris Godwin (finger) – WEDS: FP; THURS: FP; FRI: FP. Game Status: Not listed.

· TE Tanner Hudson (not injury related) – WEDS: DNP; THURS: DNP; FRI: DNP. Game Status: Out.

· G Ali Marpet (concussion) – WEDS: FP; THURS: FP; FRI: FP. Game Status: Questionable.

· OLB Jason Pierre-Paul (knee) – WEDS: LP; THURS: LP. FRI: LP. Game Status: Not listed.

· C A.Q. Shipley (neck) – WEDS: DNP; THURS: DNP; FRI: DNP. Game Status: Out.

· T Donovan Smith (ankle) – WEDS: DNP; THURS: DNP; FRI: DNP. Game Status: Questionable.

· CB Ryan Smith (ankle) – WEDS: LP; THURS: FP; FRI: FP. Game Status: Not listed.

· DL Ndamukong Suh (not injury related) – WEDS: NL; THURS: NL; FRI: DNP. Game Status: Not listed.

Chiefs:

· T Eric Fisher (ankle/shoulder) – WEDS: FP; THURS: FP; FRI: FP. Game Status: Not listed.

· LB Willie Gay (shoulder) – WEDS: FP; THURS: FP; FRI: FP. Game Status: Not listed.

· TE Travis Kelce (pectoral) – WEDS: FP; THURS: FP; FRI: FP. Game Status: Not listed.

· CB BoPete Keyes (ankle) – WEDS: NL; THURS: FP; FRI: FP. Game Status: Not listed.

· DT Chris Jones (groin) – WEDS: FP; THURS: FP; FRI: FP. Game Status: Not listed.

· DT Derrick Nnadi (ankle) – WEDS: FP; THURS: FP; FRI: FP. Game Status: Not listed.

· C Austin Reiter (knee) – WEDS: FP; THURS: FP; FRI: FP. Game Status: Not listed.

· OL Mike Remmers (rib) – WEDS: FP; THURS: FP; FRI: FP. Game Status: Not listed.

· DT Khalen Saunders (elbow) – WEDS: FP; THURS: FP; FRI: FP. Game Status: Not listed.

· CB L'Jarius Sneed (collarbone) – WEDS: FP; THURS: FP; FRI: FP. Game Status: Not listed.

· WR Sammy Watkins (calf/hamstring) – WEDS: FP; THURS: FP; FRI: FP. Game Status: Not listed.

WEATHER FORECAST

Cloudy, high of 83, low of 70, 10% chance of rain, 68% humidity, winds out of the S at 5-10 mph.

GAME REFEREE

Head referee: Shawn Hochuli (7 seasons, 3 as referee)

BETTING LINE

·    Favorite: Chiefs (-3.5)

·    Over/Under: 55.5

INDIVIDUAL STAT LEADERS

Buccaneers-

Points Scored: K Ryan Succop, 90

Touchdowns: WR Mike Evans, 8

Passing Yards: QB Tom Brady, 2,739

Passer Rating: QB Tom Brady, 99.0

Rushing Yards: RB Ronald Jones, 730

Receptions: WR Mike Evans, 40

Receiving Yards: WR Mike Evans, 514

Interceptions: CB Carlton Davis, 4

Sacks: OLB Jason Pierre-Paul, 7.5

Tackles: ILB Devin White, 88

Chiefs-

Points Scored: K Harrison Butker, 77

Touchdowns: WR Tyreek Hill, 11

Passing Yards: QB Patrick Mahomes, 3,035

Passer Rating: QB Patrick Mahomes, 114.3

Rushing Yards: RB Clyde Edwards-Helaire, 655

Receptions: TE Travis Kelce, 66

Receiving Yards: TE Travis Kelce, 896

Interceptions: S Daniel Sorensen, 3

Sacks: DT Chris Jones, 5.5

Tackles: S Daniel Sorenson, 61

TEAM STAT RANKINGS

Buccaneers-

Scoring Offense: 6th (29.1 ppg)

Total Offense: 18th (357.8 ypg)

Passing Offense: 11th (259.5 ypg)

Rushing Offense: 26th (98.3 ypg)

First Downs Per Game: t-15th (22.0)

Third-Down Pct.: 13th (43.6%)

Sacks Per Pass Attempt Allowed: 5th (3.46%)

Red Zone TD Pct.: 5th (72.1%)

Scoring Defense: 10th (23.0 ppg)

Total Defense: 5th (310.5 ypg)

Passing Defense: 16th (237.5 ypg)

Rushing Defense: 1st (73.0 ypg)

First Downs Allowed Per Game: 4th (18.7)

Third-Down Pct. Allowed: 16th (41.0%)

Sacks Per Pass Attempt: 7th (7.88%)

Red Zone TD Pct. Allowed: 24th (68.6%)

Turnover Margin: t-7th (+5)

Chiefs-

Scoring Offense: 1st (32.1 ppg)

Total Offense: 2nd (414.1 ypg)

Passing Offense: 1st (300.4 ypg)

Rushing Offense: 16th (113.7 ypg)

First Downs Per Game: 3rd (24.9)

Third-Down Pct.: 2nd (50.4%)

Sacks Per Pass Attempt Allowed: 3rd (3.40%)

Red Zone TD Pct.: 9th (67.5%)

Scoring Defense: 7th (21.4 ppg)

Total Defense: 15th (355.1 ypg)

Passing Defense: 8th (221.6 ypg)

Rushing Defense: 26th (133.5 ypg)

First Downs Allowed Per Game: 15th (22.0)

Third-Down Pct. Allowed: 17th (41.3%)

Sacks Per Pass Attempt: 21st (5.60%)

Red Zone TD Pct. Allowed: 32nd (75.9%)

Turnover Margin: 3rd (+8)

WHAT TO WATCH FOR

· ILB Lavonte David is scheduled to play in his 133rd game and make his 133rd start on Sunday, all for the Buccaneers. Both milestones will break him out of a tie on the Bucs' all-time lists for those categories. For games played, David will surpass former LB Richard Wood for 10th place on the Bucs' list, and in starts he'll move past former S John Lynch for seventh place.

· CB Carlton Davis has a team-high four interceptions this season. If he gets one more he'll be the first Buccaneer with a five-interception season since Lavonte David in 2013.

· TE Cameron Brate hauled in his 29th career touchdown pass in the Bucs' Week 10 win over Carolina, putting him in fourth place on the Bucs' all-time list in that category. Two more would pull him even with the man in third place, former WR Kevin House, who had 31 scoring grabs as a Buccaneer.

· WR Mike Evans has nine touchdown catches. One more would give him his third season with double-digit touchdown receptions. No other Buccaneer has more than one.

· QB Tom Brady has 25 touchdown passes this season and could quickly move up the list of the Bucs' single-season records in that category. One more would equal Brad Johnson's mark in 2003, which is the fourth-most in team history; two more would match Josh Freeman's third-place total in 2012 and three more would equal the 28 that Jameis Winston had in 2016 for the second spot.

NOTABLY QUOTABLE

· Head Coach Bruce Arians on trying to defend Chiefs QB Patrick Mahomes when Mahomes leaves the pocket: "I think he's a very unique individual. You teach young guys to never throw it back across the field, but he does it in a ridiculous manner – sidearm, underhand – and he's very accurate. I think most guys cannot do that. He has a different skillset than other people as far as throwing back across the field. But, you've still got to chase him around [and] you've got to plaster down the field. He also does a great job of running and getting first downs himself. It's a different, unique challenge when you start chasing him around."

· Outside linebacker Jason Pierre-Paul on the Buccaneers trying to earn a playoff spot: "We know what we need to do and what's at stake, and we need to win every game. If we win every game, we're in there! We don't have to worry about somebody losing. We've got to win every game – that's what's at stake. We caused this on ourself. We don't want to be a team wishing a team to lose to get in the playoffs. We're in the hunt, let's get the spot, let's go. I'm ready to get in the playoffs, but it starts with everybody on the team and I'm pretty sure that everybody knows that. We can't feel sorry for ourself that we lost the game against the Rams the other night. It was a great game. It was a great game and that's what everybody wants to see. … We know what it takes to get there, it's just are we going to do what it takes to get there. Rally the troops and let's go."

· Quarterback Tom Brady on what it means to face the defending Super Bowl champions: "It just means they're a good team and I think good teams give you less margin for error. They've had some continuity on that side with that system, with those coaches [and] lot of their key veteran players. That's always important – I feel continuity is the most critical aspect to consistent performance because you have to build on year after year, not just game after game or week after week. They've been in that system for a while – Coach Reid's been there for a while [and] he's a great coach. 

· Defensive Coordinator Todd Bowles on the challenge of defending Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes: "The biggest thing is we've got to stay in coverage when he breaks the pocket. Once the pocket breaks down and he starts improvising and those guys start running to open spaces, we've got to plaster once he breaks the pocket. That will be the biggest thing to concentrate on."

· Arians on the Buccaneers successfully addressing their early-season penalty problems, including just two flags on Monday night against the Rams: "I was still pissed off that [we] had the two because they were big ones. They were big first downs inside the ten [and] we could've held them to field goals there – that changes the game. Offensively, we've done a good job of eliminating pre-snap penalties. The guys took it upon themselves. I preached about it [and] preached about it, [but] when they start preaching it, it usually works."

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