The Tampa Bay Buccaneers (1-8) will take on the Washington Redskins (3-6) on Sunday at FedExField in Landover, Maryland. Here are several matchups between individual players and/or certain team units that could go a long way towards determining the game's final outcome:
DEs Michael Johnson & William Gholston vs. QB Robert Griffin III In his three games this year, RGIII has yet to really shine in the run game. The Bucs DEs will play a big role in trying to keep it that way this week. Griffin has 48 rushing yards this season, just 16 per game. That is more than 30 yards per game fewer than he had in 2012-13, and, interestingly, two shy of Josh McCown’s rushing yards per game this year (in four contests). One of the factors in the Vikings' success in limiting RGIII on the ground last Sunday was solid play from DE Everson Griffen and OLB Chad Greenway. Both registered a sack and were disciplined in keeping RGIII from getting to the edge. In that game, Griffin was sacked five times and stuffed twice on seven rushing attempts. Getting after RGIII and forcing him inside to the DTs and LBs will be a big key to this game.
QB Josh McCown vs. LB Keenan Robinson
It’s offensive signal caller vs. defensive signal caller. In his first start after returning from injury, McCown posted a solid 301-yard, two-TD, two-INT game. Despite surrendering just 222.9 passing yards per game, seventh fewest in the league, the Redskins allow the sixth-highest opposing QB passer rating thanks to 18 touchdown passes allowed (sixth-most) and three interceptions secured (tied for the league low). Robinson has one of those interceptions, along with 1.5 sacks and a team-leading 76 tackles. This matchup is all about which player can take control of his side of the ball, forcing and capitalizing on his opponent’s mistakes.
Tampa Bay QB Josh McCown could get pressured in several ways by Washington LB Keenan Robinson, who leads his team in tackles and also has 1.5 sacks and one of the Redskins' three interceptions this year
WR Mike Evans vs. CB Bashaud Breeland
The Bucs’ rookie first-rounder will likely see a lot of Breeland, a rookie and a fourth-round draft pick, in this matchup. Evans is off to a very hot start in November, with 249 yards and three touchdowns over the last two weeks. All but 25 of those 249 yards have come at the catch, meaning in this case that his receptions are coming deep downfield and near the sidelines. The Washington secondary has allowed 10 touchdowns to WRs this season, at an average distance of 24.1 yards. If McCown continues to look for Evans deep, he has a chance see his third straight game with 100-plus yards and a score.
CB Alterraun Verner vs. WR DeSean Jackson
When defining the prototype NFL deep-target receiver, you don’t need to look any farther than Jackson. This season, his 21.8 yards per reception is nearly three yards more than the second name on the list. He has touchdowns of 81, 64 and 60 yards so far this year. He has 36 receiving touchdowns in his career and 26 of them are from a distance of 30 yards. Despite allowing the second most passing yards per game this year, the Buccaneers have been stingy against the deep ball, allowing just three receptions of 40 yards, the fourth-fewest in the league. Expect to see Verner and Jackson battle deep down field at least a few times in this one…that is, if Verner is cleared to play after missing last week's game with an ankle injury. Verner is listed as questionable on Friday's injury report, and if he can't go this very important responsibility will likely fall to Johnthan Banks or Crezdon Butler.
RT Demar Dotson vs. OLB Ryan Kerrigan
Pro Football Focus has Dotson graded as the sixth-best right tackle this season, with the third-highest pass block grade among RTs, having allowed just three sacks, zero QB hits and 12 QB hurries. This week, he’ll go up against the Redskins’ best pass-rusher, Kerrigan, who has 7.5 sacks and two forced fumbles on the season. Four of those sacks came in a single week against the Jacksonville Jaguars. McCown was sacked four times last week by the Atlanta Falcons, who had just seven sacks through their first eight games.
LB Lavonte David vs. RB Alfred Morris
Morris came into the league in 2012 as a sixth-round draft pick out of Florida Atlantic University and burst onto the scene with 13 touchdowns and 1,613 rushing yards, both the second-highest marks in the NFL that year. He followed it up with a 1,275-yard season in 2013. Over the last two weeks, Morris has found his rhythm, going for 165 yards and three TDs. Should the DEs be successful at funneling the runs to the inside, it will be up the 2013 All-Pro to clean up. David has 14 tackles in four of his last five games, averages an NFL-best 11.4 tackles per game and is third in the league with 8.5 stuffs this season.
QB Josh McCown is back under center for the Buccaneers and this week he must try to outsmart his defensive counterpart, Redskins LB Keenan Robinson, the team's leading tackler.