Skip to main content

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Presented by

Countdown to Kickoff: Buccaneers-Lions, Divisional Round 2023-2024

The Buccaneers will take on the Lions in a win-or-go-home matchup on Sunday … Key stats, lineup notes and more

C2K Divisional Round

Next stop on the Buccaneers' revenge tour, the team will take on the Detroit Lions in the Divisional Round at Ford Field on Sunday. The star-studded matchup will decide which club advances to the NFC Championship Game. To close out the year, the Bucs won six of their last seven games and dominated the Philadelphia Eagles 32-9 in the Wil Card Round. The Lions are coming off a thrilling 24-23 victory over the Los Angeles Rams, which broke the NFL's longest playoff win drought of 31 seasons. The Lions last playoff win came against the Cowboys in the 1991 Divisional Round. Tampa Bay has won its last three road games, including one at Green Bay in which Baker Mayfield posted a perfect 158.3 QBR. The Bucs have adopted a singular focus and will once again write their own narrative on the gridiron. After a week of preparation, here is what the Divisional Round Showdown comes down to:

4 Stats That Matter

  • Jared Goff has the second-highest passer rating when not pressured in 2023, behind San Francisco's Brock Purdy. Goff (28-4 passing touchdown-interception ratio) and C.J. Stroud (21-3) are tied for the best touchdown-interception ratio when not pressured in 2023, including playoffs. Tampa Bay's defense had a 33.8 quarterback pressure percentage in the 2023 regular season (23rd in the NFL) but had a 51.3 quarterback pressure percentage against Jalen Hurts in the 2023 Wild Card Round.
  • Bake Mayfield became the third quarterback in NFL history to have three-plus passing touchdowns and zero interceptions in a playoff win for multiple franchises (2020 Wild Card at Pittsburgh, 2023 Wild Card versus Philadelphia). He joined Hall of Famer Brett Favre and Tom Brady.
  • The Lions had four different players with 10-plus scrimmage touchdowns in 2023 including David Montgomery (13), Jahmyr Gibbs (11), Amon-Ra St. Brown (10) and Sam LaPorta (10). The only other team in NFL history to have four-plus such players in a season was the 2013 Broncos. LaPorta was the only tight end in 2023 with 80-plus receptions, 800-plus receiving yards, and seven-plus receiving touchdowns.
  • The Lions rushed for 100-plus yards in 14 regular season games in 2023 (third-most in the NFL). Detroit finished the 2023 season as the fifth-best rush offense in the NFL (135.9 rush yards per game). Gibbs and Montgomery are the first teammate duo in NFL history to each have 1,000-plus scrimmage yards and 10-plus rushing touchdowns in a season. The Bucs had the NFL's fifth-best rush defense in 2023 (95.3 rush yards per game allowed).

3 Lineup Notes

  • Outside linebacker Shaquil Barrett (ankle) and running back Chase Edmonds (toe) were the Bucs' most glaring injury concerns in preparation for Sunday's Divisional Round game in Detroit. The Bucs held walk-throughs on Wednesday and Thursday, but the team estimated both Barrett and Edmonds as non-participants on both days. Barrett missed Tampa Bay's Week 17 game against New Orleans with a groin injury but was back in action for the last two contests. He led the team with six quarterback pressures in the 32-9 victory over the Eagles. Edmonds spent four games on injured reserve early in the season due to a knee injury but played in the last 12 contests. He emerged as the primary backup to Rachaad White and a change-of-pace rusher for the Bucs. Both Barrett and Edmonds were listed as questionable for Sunday's matchup, along with quarterback John Wolford.
  • Starting quarterback Baker Mayfield, who had dealt with an ankle and ribs injury over the previous two weeks, was a full participant in practice leading up to the Divisional Round.
  • For the Lions, receiver Kalif Raymond was ruled out with a knee injury. Raymond was injured in Week 18 and has not suited up since. He will miss his second-consecutive playoff game. In addition, tight end Sam LaPorta (knee) and edge James Houston (ankle) were listed as questionable. LaPorta was limited in practice all week but is expected to play against the Buccaneers.

2 Challenges Presented by the Lions

The Lions rank in the top-five in total offense (394.8, third), rush offense (135.9, fifth) and passing offense (258.9, second) with a talented cast.  In 2023, quarterback Jared Goff threw for 5,575 yards, 30 touchdowns and 12 interceptions. He continued the trend against the Rams in the Wild Card Game, completing 22 of 27 passes for 277 yards, one touchdown and no interceptions. He is a quality touch passer with a plethora of weapons at his disposal. Receiver Amon-Ra St. Brown, who surpassed the 1,000-yard marker and was named an AP first-team All-Pro, is lethal on jet motions, in-breaking routes and two-way go's with his prowess in the open field. Tight end Sam LaPorta is a crafty route-runner and threatens zone coverage. The dynamic running back tandem of David Montgomery and Jahmyr Gibbs ignites the offense. Montgomery is physical through traffic with power that creates rare contact balance. He is stout in pass protection and Gibbs is a slash-styled back that can make sudden cuts to stretch defenses horizontally. He quickly turns on the jets in space and has the agility to force missed tackles.

Defensive end Aidan Hutchinson and versatile nickel Brian Branch sets the tone on defense in Aaron Glenn's system. Hutchinson accumulated 11.5 sacks this season, garnering Pro Bowl recognition. He is an instinctive rusher, consistently collapsing the pocket with a variety of moves. Hutchinson is lethal off inside counter moves and possesses first-step quickness. He plays with awareness against the run and Branch is a dynamic chess piece on the back end for Detroit. With hip fluidity, quickness out of breaks and understanding of routes, Branch imposes his will sideline-to-sideline. Branch plays with leverage, and he has the ability to shoot gaps on blitzes. In 2023, Branch tallied 13 passes defensed, one sack, 74 tackles, seven tackles for loss and three quarterback hits. 

1 Key Quote from Todd Bowles

On limiting YAC yards:

"It's huge. They've got a lot of catch-and-run guys. They've got some very good athletes over there. If they can give them a three- or five-yard pass, they can turn it into 15-, 20-, even 50-yard gains. That's going to be critical for us, tackling in open space. On the flip side, we've got to continue to try and get YAC yards when we catch the ball."

Related Content

Latest Headlines