The Tampa Bay Buccaneers faced the Green Bay Packers in Week Six in what was understandably billed as a star-studded matchup of two of the greatest quarterbacks of all time. Instead, Tampa Bay's defense stole the show from both Aaron Rodgers and Tom Brady and took the late-afternoon opportunity to announce itself as one of the best in the league.
Now that defense, which held Rodgers and company to 28 fewer points and 244 fewer yards than they had been averaging, is basking in the spotlight. However, as it turns out, it has a very similar and daunting challenge in Week Seven. While Las Vegas quarterback Derek Carr may not be drawing the same MVP buzz as Rodgers, he is off to a very impressive start in 2020, with a 73.1% completion rate, a 115.9 passer rating and a 11-1 TD-INT ratio. Carr is leading the Raiders to 30.2 points and just under 400 yards per game. And the Buccaneers will face that offense on the road, where they are only 1-2 so far this season.
Both teams are in the thick of division races that figure to be fought down to the end. The Buccaneers, at 4-2, have a half-game lead over the 3-2 Saints, with the Panthers just behind at 3-3, but New Orleans already has a win in hand over Tampa Bay. The Raiders, at 3-2, are a game-and-a-half behind the 5-1 Chiefs but are responsible for that one loss on Kansas City's register. Neither team has much margin for error.
Sunday's game was originally the beginning of a stretch of three straight nationally-televised prime-time games for the Buccaneers, and a run of four night games in a five-week span. However, the kickoff of the game was moved to 4:05 p.m. on Thursday as a precaution against the possibility of a postponement due to the Raiders' positive COVID-19 test this week. Still, it is the first of two games on the road, representing a critical part of the schedule that will play out in front of a national audience, in part. Sunday's game has the added draw of pitting the Buccaneers against their former head coach, Jon Gruden, who led the team to its first Super Bowl championship at the end of the 2002 season.
Gruden's Super Bowl team was driven by a legendary defense featuring Hall of Famers Derrick Brooks and Warren Sapp, as well as potential gold jacket recipients Ronde Barber, John Lynch and Simeon Rice. The current Buccaneers' defense is trying to build its own reputation with a mix of veteran stalwarts like Lavonte David and Ndamukong Suh and rising young stars like Devin White, Carlton Davis, Jamel Dean and Antoine Winfield, Jr. After muzzling the Packers' explosive offense, Tampa Bay now has the NFL's top-ranked defense.
The Buccaneers will have a new franchise experience in Week Seven, playing in Las Vegas and at Allegiant Stadium for the first time. They will be trying to get their third win of the season against an AFC West opponent. Most importantly, they'll be trying to prove that their dramatic and dominant win over Green Bay wasn't a fluke but the start of a run back to the playoffs.
GAME AND BROADCAST DETAILS
Tampa Bay Buccaneers (4-2) at Las Vegas Raiders (3-2)
Sunday, October 25, 4:05 p.m. ET
Allegiant Stadium (capacity: 65,000…no fans will be in attendance)
Las Vegas, Nevada
Television: FOX (Local WFLA Channel 8)
TV Broadcast Team: Adam Amin (play-by-play), Mark Schlereth (analyst), Lindsey Czarniak (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 Buccaneers have won just twice in their nine regular-season games against the Oakland Raiders over the last 45 years, but they would have gladly gone oh-fer in that series in exchange for the results they got in their one postseason meeting.
The Raiders were the opponent in the biggest game in Buccaneers franchise history, Super Bowl XXXVII on January 26, 2003. Jon Gruden, in his first year as Tampa Bay's head coach, led his team against the franchise he had helmed the previous four seasons before a dramatic offseason trade in 2002. It was a rare Super Bowl showdown between the NFL's number-one offense and number-one defense, and Tampa Bay's legendary defense carried the day. The Buccaneers sacked NFL MVP Rich Gannon five times and set still-standing Super Bowl records with five interceptions and three pick-sixes.
Brad Johnson led the Buccaneers offense, throwing two touchdown passes to Keenan McCardell and Michael Pittman ran for 124 yards. The offensive line continued its excellent postseason run by not allowing Johnson to be sacked once. Safety Dexter Jackson was named Super Bowl MVP for turning the tide early with a pair of first half interceptions. The Buccaneers scored 34 unanswered points and won going away, 48-21.
But the Raiders have, in fact, mostly owned the regular-season series. The Buccaneers got their two wins in 1996 and 2012 in games that were stylistically dissimilar, although both were part of three-game winning streaks for teams that had gotten off to a rough start.
The win in November of 1996 was just the second for Tony Dungy's Buccaneers, who in his first year at the helm had to preach to his players to stay the course after an 0-5 start. Those Bucs were 1-8 when they welcomed the then-Oakland Raiders to town, and it was a soon-to-be-legendary defense that led the way, holding Oakland to 271 yards in a back-and-forth battle. Mike Alstott's two-yard touchdown catch on a pass from Trent Dilfer tied the game at 17-17 in the fourth quarter and the Bucs got lucky when Cole Ford missed a 28-yard field goal at the end of regulation. Michael Husted won the game in overtime with a 23-yard field goal after a dive that was almost exclusively runs by Alstott and Errict Rhett.
The 2012 game was a scorefest, highlighted by the best individual rushing performance in franchise history. Doug Martin ran for 251 yards and four touchdowns, including scoring jaunts of 70, 67 and 45 yards, in a game that featured 939 yards of combined offense. The Buccaneers built a 35-17 lead but saw the Raiders storm back to make it a three-point game before Martin's final touchdown, a one-yard plunge.
The Raiders had the good fortune of being on Tampa Bay's schedule in the franchise's inaugural season of 1976 and opened the series with a lopsided 49-16 victory in Oakland. The Raiders won the next two, as well, in 1981 and 1993, before Dungy's team got the first 'W' in the series in '96. In terms of the Raiders' seven wins in the series, the most surprising one came late in the 1999 season. Dungy's team rode a franchise-record six-game winning streak into Oakland to face a 6-7 Raiders team, and the game quickly snow-balled out of control. Against a Bucs' defense that had held eight straight opponents to 20 or fewer points, the Raiders started with a 20-yard Tim Brown touchdown catch early in the first quarter and didn't stop until Napoleon Kaufman's 75-yard touchdown run made it a 45-0 final. The Bucs rebounded to win their last two regular-season games and advance to the NFC Championship Game in St. Louis.
Most recently, the Raiders won an overtime game in Tampa, 30-24, in October of 2016. The Buccaneers got to overtime despite a final yardage edge for the Raiders of 626 to 270, and then the two teams took the 15-minute extra period all the way down to two minutes before Derek Carr won it with a 41-yard touchdown pass to Seth Roberts.
· Las Vegas Head Coach Jon Gruden was the Tampa Bay Buccaneers' head coach for seven seasons, from 2002-08. He led the Buccaneers to their first NFL championship in his first season at the helm, as Tampa Bay defeated the Raiders, 48-21, in Super Bowl XXXVII. Gruden's Buccaneers compiled a 57-55 regular-season, giving him the franchise record for most wins as a head coach.
· Buccaneers Specialists Coach Chris Boniol was the Raiders' assistant special teams coach in 2014.
· Kevin Ross, Tampa Bay's cornerbacks coach, tutored the safeties for the Raiders during the 2010-11 seasons.
· Gruden has a number of former Buccaneers' coaches on his staff, including Offensive Coordinator Greg Olson, Quality Control-Offense Coach Tim Berbenich, Running Backs Coach Kirby Wilson, Defensive Line Coach Rod Marinelli, Assistant Head Coach/Special Teams Coordinator Rich Bisaccia and Assistant Special Teams Coach Byron Storer. Olson spent one year on Gruden's staff in Tampa Bay (2008) as the quarterbacks coach, then was retained in 2009 by new Head Coach Raheem Morris and added the title of offensive coordinator for the next three seasons. Berbenich was with the Buccaneers for six seasons, two (2006-07) as an offensive quality control coach, one (2008) as an assistant running backs coach and three (2009-11) as an assistant wide receivers coach. Wilson was the Bucs' running backs coach in Gruden's first two seasons in Tampa. Marinelli began his NFL coaching career with Tampa Bay in 1996, spending five seasons as Tony Dungy's defensive line coach. He was retained by Gruden in 2002 and spent four more years as the team's assistant head coach/defensive line coach. Bisaccia also broke into the NFL with the Buccaneers when he joined Gruden's staff in 2002. He was the team's special teams coordinator for six seasons and then took over the running backs as well as adding assistant head coach duties in 2008. Bisaccia spent two more seasons with the Buccaneers (2009-10) under Morris. Storer was the Bucs' assistant special teams coach in 2010-11. He also played for the Buccaneers as a fullback in 2007-08 after signing as an undrafted free agent and spent the 2009 season on injured reserve before electing to transition to coaching.
· Buccaneers OLB Quinton Bell was drafted by the Raiders in the seventh round of the 2019 draft and spent time on their practice squad before being released in October and signed by the Buccaneers.
· Tampa Bay WR Jaydon Mickens entered the NFL as an undrafted free agent with the Raiders in 2017 and he spent his entire rookie season on Oakland's practice squad.
· DE Carl Nassib signed with Las Vegas as an unrestricted free agent this past offseason after two seasons with the Buccaneers. Nassib played in 29 games for Tampa Bay, with 17 starts, and compiled 12.5 sacks.
· Raiders G Patrick Omameh is also a former Buccaneer, first coming to Tampa in October of 2013 when he was signed off San Francisco's practice squad. Omameh was the Buccaneers' starting right guard for all 16 games in 2014.
· Raiders Offensive Quality Control Coach Austin King was drafted by the Buccaneers as an offensive lineman in the fourth round in 2003. He spent one season in Tampa but was inactive for all 16 games.
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
· Las Vegas:
· Head Coach Jon Gruden
· Offensive Coordinator Greg Olson
· Defensive Coordinator Paul Guenther
· Assistant Head Coach/Special Teams Coordinator Rich Bisaccia
KEY 2020 ROSTER ADDITIONS
· QB Tom Brady (UFA)
· 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)
· WR Nelson Agholor (UFA)
· CB Damon Arnette (1st-round draft pick – currently on injured reserve)
· RB Davontae Booker (FA)
· DT Maliek Collins (UFA)
· WR Bryan Edwards (4th-round draft pick)
· S Jeff Heath (UFA)
· LB Nick Kwiatkoski (UFA)
· LB Cory Littleton (UFA)
· QB Marcus Mariota (UFA – currently on injured reserve)
· LB Raekwon McMillan (T-MIA)
· DE Carl Nassib (UFA)
· WR Henry Ruggs (1st-round draft pick)
· TE Jason Witten (UFA)
ADDITIONAL 2020 CHANGES OF NOTE
· 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.
· 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.
· The Raiders, of course, made the biggest change of any NFL team in 2020, moving their operations to a completely new city and stadium. After playing the previous quarter-century in Oakland, the Raiders relocated to Las Vegas in 2020. In September, they began play in the brand-new Allegiant Stadium, a 65,000-seat facility that features retractable side windows facing the Las Vegas Strip and a grass field on a try that can be slid outside, with an artificial turf field underneath it. The Raiders franchise has now relocated three times, starting out in Oakland (1960-81) before moving to Los Angeles (1982-1994) and then back to Oakland (1995-2019).
· The Raiders did a complete makeover of their linebacker position during the 2020 season. Gone are former starters Vontaze Burfict and Tahir Whitehead. New to the crew are unrestricted free agents Nick Kwiatkoski and Cory Littleton, both starters, as well as reserve Raekwon McMillan an early-September trade acquisition from the Dolphins.
· Las Vegas replaced one former Buccaneers coach with another in February when they brought in Rod Marinelli to take over their defensive line. That position had been tutored by Brentson Buckner in 2019. Marinelli was on Gruden's staff in Tampa from 2002-05 before leaving to become the Lions' head coach. Long considered one of the best defensive coaches in the NFL, Marinelli helped develop a dominant defensive line in Tampa that included Warren Sapp and Simeon Rice. The Raiders also added Austin King to their coaching staff in February, making him an offensive quality control coach.
· Las Vegas has had to do a little bit of offensive line shuffling since the 2020 season started thanks to injuries to high-profile starters Trent Brown and Richie Incognito. Brown started the opener but only played three snaps before aggravating a calf injury. That pushed Denzelle Good into the lineup at right tackle. When Richie Incognito was lost to an Achilles tendon injury in the second game, rookie John Simpson stepped in at left guard. After one game with that lineup, the Raiders moved Good to left guard and tried Sam Young at right tackle. Good has remained in Incognito's spot since, with Brown returning to the lineup at right tackle last week.
View some of the top photos from Buccaneers Week 7 practice at the AdventHealth Training Center.
A Gruden Grinder – You have to start here. Jon Gruden left the Raiders in 2002 to take over as the Buccaneers' head coach – with Oakland getting back four high draft picks and a bunch of cash – and he promptly led the Buccaneers to victory over the Raiders in Super Bowl XXXVII that season. When the Buccaneers elected to move on to Raheem Morris in 2009, Gruden went into the Monday Night Football booth for nearly a decade, and when he finally decided to go back into coaching, in 2018, it was of course with the Raiders. Now Gruden will be welcoming his old team to Las Vegas for a matchup of two teams trying to prove they are legitimate Super Bowl contenders in 2020. Both teams are coming off signature wins – the Raiders snapped the Chiefs' 12-game winning streak in Week Five and the Buccaneers just dominated the previous undefeated Packer sin Week Six – and can make an even stronger statement by winning this high-powered matchup. Every game counts the same, but it wouldn't be a surprise if Gruden felt a little more strongly about getting a win over his former team. Obviously, the Buccaneers franchise looks back fondly at his tenure as head coach; that much was made clear when they inducted Gruden into their Ring of Honor at Raymond James Stadium in 2017.
Will the Defense Rest? – The Buccaneers now have the number-one defense in the NFL, based on the league's yardage rankings, and that group is coming off a sublime performance against Green Bay that may have rewritten the story of Tampa Bay's 2020 season. After that game, players and coaches agreed that they had set a new standard on defense that they now expected to duplicate on a weekly basis. The Buccaneers surely won't completely shut down every explosive offense they encounter, as they did against the high-flying Packers on Sunday, but they will head into each game believing they can do so. They won't have to wait long to find out if they're right. The Raiders have also been one of the league's most explosive teams so far this season, averaging 30.2 points and just under 400 yards per game. If Aaron Rodgers was the league's hottest quarterback before Week Six, then the Raiders' Derek Carr would probably be vying for second on that list with Seattle's Russell Wilson. Carr is completing nearly three-quarters of his passes and has tossed 11 touchdowns against just one interception in five games. The Buccaneers got Rodgers off his game with a dizzying array of formations and pass-rush combinations and sacked him four times after he had been dropped just three times in his first four outings. Will they be able to do the same thing to Carr, and will their rush defense remain stout against Josh Jacobs despite the loss of Vita Vea. The Buccaneers' defense thinks that Week Six was the start of something that's only going to get better. Can they keep their momentum going in Las Vegas?
Night and Day – The Buccaneers will no longer be taking the Sunday night stage with the Raiders, but now the question is whether the sudden change in kickoff time will represent an obstacle for either team. Tampa Bay's schedule originally included five nationally-televised prime-time games, the most in team history. The Bucs lost in their first such exposure, dropping a Week Five Thursday night contest in Chicago. Now they're going to have a bunch of chances to put on a better show for the football nation...but one fewer than originally expected. This Sunday's game was going to be the first of three in a row that the Bucs will play in prime-time, as they'll follow it with a Week Eight Monday night trip to play the Giants and a Week Nine Sunday-nighter at home against the Saints. After a Week 10 trip to Carolina, the Buccaneers will once again return to Monday Night Football in Week 11 to play the Rams at home. For better or worse, Tampa Bay's NFL team is about to get the most concentrated national exposure it has had since the 2002 playoff run to the title, but with a little bit of an asterisk at the beginning.
Offensive Options – Chris Godwin, Justin Watson and LeSean McCoy returned from injuries to play against Green Bay last Sunday but the offense against Green Bay largely ran through Ronald Jones and Rob Gronkowski. The Bucs had the closest they've had in weeks to a full crew on offense, with only O.J. Howard (on injured reserve) and Leonard Fournette (inactive with an ankle injury) unavailable, but it didn't turn into the Godwin-Mike Evans Show. Those two had a combined six catches for 58 yards and Evans didn't score for the first time all season. And that was perfectly fine. The Buccaneers won by 28 points and ripped off three straight touchdown drives after Jamel Dean broke the seal with a pick-six. With Jones heating up and Gronkowski rounding more into his pre-retirement form, the Buccaneers have plenty of options and can succeed on offense no matter what the opposing defense focuses on taking away. Brady threw to 10 different players in the game and rookie running back Ke'Shawn Vaughn spelled Jones late in the game and added 42 rushing yards of his own. With Fournette likely returning for the Las Vegas game, it's anybody's guess what direction Brady and the offense will take in Week Seven.
Whose OL Will Hold the Line? – Even with the loss of left guard Richie Incognito the Raiders have had one of the NFL's more effective offensive lines. Las Vegas have allowed only eight sacks of Derrick Carr and have blocked for a rushing attack that is racking up 11.0 yards per game. That crew will get a stout test from a Buccaneers' front that ranks first in rush defense and second in sacks per pass attempt. And, of course, there are no multiple questions about that line after right tackle Trent Brown was put on the reserve/COVID-19 list and the Raiders sent the other starters home on Wednesday as a precautionary move. Meanwhile, Tampa Bay's offensive line is coming off one of its best games in which it allowed no sacks of Brady against a talented Green Bay front and blocked for a season-high 158 rushing yards. The Bucs also played their cleanest game up front, contributing to just the second penalty-free game in franchise history. The Raiders' defense ranks 22nd against the run and 25th in sacks-per-pass play but has some talented players up front, including DEs Maxx Crosby and Clelin Ferrell…not to mention former Buccaneer Carl Nassib.
1. Raiders TE Darren Waller vs. Buccaneers CB Jamel Dean
The Buccaneers have already faced a couple of talented tight ends, including Jared Cook and Noah Fant, but this is the first opponent whose passing attack is led by a tight end. After an incredible breakout season in 2019 (90 catches for 1,145 yards), the 6-6, 255-pound Waller is the Raiders' top pass-catcher in 2020 with 34 receptions for 295 yards and two touchdowns. His 34 grabs are twice that of the next player on the Raiders' list, wide receiver Hunter Renfrow. The problem in trying to defend Waller is that he possesses amazing speed for a man of his size. His fastest-clocked time on a play in 2019 was better than the top speed of all but two receivers in the NFL. We often talk about creating mismatches with a tight end against a safety or linebacker, but the Buccaneers will probably end up with several different defenders on Waller throughout the game, including Dean. In the Buccaneers' Week Five game at Chicago, two of Dean's four passes defensed came on passes intended for tight end Jimmy Graham. Dean isn't 6-6 and 255 pounds but he does have very good size and length for a cornerback and he can definitely match Waller's speed. Dean could find himself matched up with Waller when the Raiders go "Y-Iso," putting three receivers on one side of the formation in a bunch and Waller alone on the other side. According to Next Gen Stats, Waller has lined up in Y-Iso on 18% of his routes since the start of 2019, the second-highest percentage among all NFL tight ends. Overall, Waller has lined up either wide or in the slot on 49% of his snaps this year.
2. Buccaneers T Tristan Wirfs vs. Raiders DE Maxx Crosby
The Raiders drafted Clemson defensive end Clelin Ferrell with the fourth-overall pick in 2019 but it's Crosby, a fourth-round pick in the same draft, who has emerged first as a potential pass-rushing star. After racking up 10.0 sacks as a rookie Crosby has four more through the first five games of 2020, accounting for more than half of his team's total. Crosby showed off his speed and agility at the Combine with some of the best times among defensive ends in the 40-yard dash and the three-cone drill, but there were some concerns about his strength and ability to hold up at the point of attack. Crosby was expected to be a situational pass-rusher as a rookie but he quickly earned a full-time role and proved stout enough against the run while racking up 29 QB pressures. This season, Crosby has lined up on the right edge of the offense on a great majority of his snaps, which means he'll have plenty of time to get to know the Buccaneers' own outstanding young lineman, right tackle Tristan Wirfs. Wirfs has stepped right into a starting job and earned high grades for his pass-blocking. He's only been flagged for one holding call through six games, which is impressive given the line of dangerous edge rushers he's already had to face. Wirfs and the Bucs' offensive line are coming off a very strong performance against Green Bay in which they blocked for a 158-yard rushing attack and didn't allow a single sack.
3. Raiders G Denzelle Good vs. Buccaneers DL Ndamukong Suh
Heading into the 2020 season, there was some suggestion that the Raiders had the NFL's best offensive line. That group was anchored by veteran acquisitions Richie Incognito and Trent Brown, with improving 2018 first-round pick Kolton Miller protecting Derek Carr's blind side. The Raiders have still gotten good results up front, ranking ninth in sacks per pass play while rushing for 121.0 yards per game, but they've had to do it while constantly shuffling the lineup. That's because Brown got hurt in Week One and missed the next three games and Incognito landed on injured reserve after a Week Two Achilles tendon injury. Good was a very helpful patch, first playing a pair of strong games at right tackle before moving back to left guard, his more natural position. This week, Good will have to deal with Suh, who lines up on both sides of the nose tackle at various times in a game. Suh has already exceeded his 2019 sack total with 3.0, including one last week on Aaron Rodgers, and has seven quarterback hits, as he has enjoyed a lower frequency of double-team blocks this season. Since joining the Buccaneers in 2019, Suh has racked up 52 quarterback pressures, fifth-most among all interior linemen in the NFL. Suh is also a key part of the Buccaneers' top-ranked run defense, even more so now in the absence of Vita Vea, and Good will have difficulty moving him when they're matched up one-on-one on a rushing play.
4. Buccaneers RB Ronald Jones vs. Raiders LB Cory Littleton
A high second-round pick out of USC in 2018, Jones had a lost rookie season but showed significantly more promise last year in Arians' first season at the helm, rushing for 724 yards and catching 31 passes for 309 yards. Now in his third campaign, Jones appears to be emerging as one of the NFL's breakout star running backs. His 472 rushing yards rank third in the NFL, behind only Derrick Henry and Dalvin Cook and his 4.9 yards per carry are ninth best among qualifying running backs. According to Next Gen Stats, Jones leads the league in "ushing yards over expected" with an added 114 yards. Jones rides a wave of three consecutive 100-yard games into Las Vegas, where he'll face a linebacking corps that was largely remade in 2020. That included the high-profile signing of Littleton, the former Ram who was considered one of the best coverage linebackers in the league. Las Vegas is giving up 126.8 rushing yards per game and 4.84 yards per carry, ranking 23rd and 25th in those categories, respectively. Littleton is second on the team with 27 tackles, 13 of which have come on running plays, but he has not yet produced any splash plays. Littleton's coverage abilities may come into play as Jones is tied for second on the Bucs' offense with 17 receptions. Jones has not yet turned those catches into a great deal of production, with an average of just 4.9 yards per catch, but he showed the ability to turn short passes into big gains last year when he averaged 10.0 yards per reception.
DNP: Did not participate in practice
LP: Limited participation in practice
FP: Full participation in practice
NL: Not listed
· S Andrew Adams (hamstring) – WEDS: LP; THURS: DNP; FRI: LP. Game Status: Questionable.
· QB Tom Brady (not injury related) – WEDS: DNP; THURS: FP; FRI: FP. Game Status: Not listed.
· LB Lavonte David (knee) – WEDS: LP; THURS: LP; FRI: FP. Game Status: Not listed.
· CB Carlton Davis (knee) – WEDS: NL; THURS: LP; FRI: LP. Game Status: Not listed.
· WR Mike Evans (ankle) – WEDS: LP; THURS: LP; FRI: FP. Game Status. Not listed.
· RB Leonard Fournette (ankle) – WEDS: FP; THURS: FP; FRI: FP. Game Status: Not listed.
· DL William Gholston (bicep) – WEDS: LP; THURS: FP; FRI: FP. Game Status: Not listed.
· WR Chris Godwin (hamstring) – WEDS: LP; THURS: LP; FRI: LP. Game Status: Not listed.
· TE Rob Gronkowski (shoulder) – WEDS: DNP; THURS: LP; FRI: FP. Game Status: Not listed.
· WR Scotty Miller (hip/groin) – WEDS: LP; THURS: LP; FRI: LP. Game Status: Not listed.
· OLB Jason Pierre-Paul (knee) – WEDS: LP: THURS: LP; FRI: DNP. Game Status: Not listed.
· DL Ndamukong Suh (not injury related) – WEDS: NL: THURS: NL; FRI: DNP. Game Status: Not listed.
· S Antoine Winfield (shoulder) – WEDS: LP; THURS: LP; FRI: LP. Game Status: Not listed.
· S Johnathan Abram (not injury related) – WEDS: DNP; THURS: DNP. Placed on reserve/COVID-19 list.
· DT Maliek Collins (shoulder) – WEDS: LP; THURS: LP; FRI: LP. Game Status: Questionable.
· WR Bryan Edwards (foot/ankle) – WEDS: DNP; THURS: DNP; FRI: DNP. Out.
· WR Rico Gafford (hamstring) – WEDS: FP; THURS: FP; FRI: FP. Game Status: Not listed.
· G Denzelle Good (not injury related) – WEDS: DNP; THURS: DNP. Placed on reserve/COVID-19 list.
· C Rodney Hudson (not injury related) – WEDS: DNP; THURS: DNP. Placed on reserve/COVID-19 list.
· G Gabe Jackson (not injury related) – WEDS: DNP; THURS: DNP. Placed on reserve/COVID-19 list.
· CB Lamarcus Joyner (hamstring) – WEDS: LP; THURS: LP; FRI: LP. Game Status: Not listed.
· LB Nick Kwiatkoski (pectoral) – WEDS: FP; THURS: FP; FP. Game Status: Not listed.
· T Kolton Miller (not injury related) – WEDS: DNP; THURS: DNP. Placed on reserve/COVID-19 list.
· DE Carl Nassib (toe) – WEDS: LP; THURS: LP; FRI: LP. Game Status: Questionable.
· CB Keisean Nixon (groin) – WEDS: DNP; THURS: DNP; FRI: DNP. Game Status: Out.
· T Sam Young (knee) – WEDS: FP; THURS: FP; FRI: FP. Game Status: Not listed.
Domed stadium. Outside: Scattered clouds, high of 79, low of 48, 10% chance of rain, 27% humidity, winds out of the NNW at 10-20 mph.
Head referee: Scott Novak (7 seasons, 2 as referee)
· Favorite: Buccaneers (-3.0)
· Over/Under: 53.0
INDIVIDUAL STAT LEADERS
Points Scored: K Ryan Succop, 49
Touchdowns: WR Mike Evans, 6
Passing Yards: QB Tom Brady, 1,541
Passer Rating: QB Tom Brady, 97.8
Rushing Yards: RB Ronald Jones, 472
Receptions: WR Mike Evans, 23
Receiving Yards: WR Mike Evans, 281
Interceptions: CB Carlton Davis, 3
Sacks: OLB Jason Pierre-Paul, 5.5
Tackles: ILB Devin White, 50
Points Scored: K Daniel Carlson, 49
Touchdowns: RB Josh Jacobs, 5
Passing Yards: QB Derek Carr, 1,442
Passer Rating: QB Derek Carr, 115.9
Rushing Yards: RB Josh Jacobs, 377
Receptions: TE Darren Waller, 34
Receiving Yards: TE Darren Waller, 295
Interceptions: S Johnathan Abram/S Jeff Heath/LB Nicholas Morrow, 1
Sacks: DE Maxx Crosby, 4.0
Tackles: S Johnathan Abrams, 28
TEAM STAT RANKINGS
Scoring Offense: 8th (29.5 ppg)
Total Offense: 20th (358.2 ypg)
Passing Offense: 17th (249.0 ypg)
Rushing Offense: 20th (109.2 ypg)
First Downs Per Game: 25th (21.2)
Third-Down Pct.: 18th (41.6%)
Sacks Per Pass Attempt Allowed: 4th (3.57%)
Red Zone TD Pct.: 4th (77.3%)
Scoring Defense: 8th (20.3 ppg)
Total Defense: 1st (282.0 ypg)
Passing Defense: 6th (217.7 ypg)
Rushing Defense: 1st (64.3 ypg)
First Downs Allowed Per Game: 1st (16.8)
Third-Down Pct. Allowed: 11th (39.0%)
Sacks Per Pass Attempt: 2nd (10.28%)
Red Zone TD Pct. Allowed: 10th (58.8%)
Turnover Margin: t-6th (+4)
Scoring Offense: 6th (30.2 ppg)
Total Offense: 6th (399.4 ypg)
Passing Offense: 5th (278.4 ypg)
Rushing Offense: 14th (121.0 ypg)
First Downs Per Game: 5th (23.8)
Third-Down Pct.: 3rd (52.3%)
Sacks Per Pass Attempt Allowed: 9th (4.57%)
Red Zone TD Pct.: 14th (65.0%)
Scoring Defense: 27th (30.4 ppg)
Total Defense: 24th (393.6 ypg)
Passing Defense: 25th (266.8 ypg)
Rushing Defense: 22nd (126.8 ypg)
First Downs Allowed Per Game: 21st (23.0)
Third-Down Pct. Allowed: 25th (48.4%)
Sacks Per Pass Attempt: 25th (3.95%)
Red Zone TD Pct. Allowed: 24th (68.2%)
Turnover Margin: 28th (-4)
WHAT TO WATCH FOR
· Since the start of the 2020 season, Tom Brady has thrown 14 touchdown passes in six games while New Orleans quarterback Drew Brees has thrown nine in five games. That has tightened up the race atop the NFL's all-time leaderboard in that category, as Brees now has 556 career touchdown passes to 555 for Tom Brady. Depending upon the output of each passer on Sunday, Brady could finish Week Seven as the NFL's all-time leader in touchdown passes. For at least one week.
· Brady's 14 touchdown passes are also the most any Buccaneers passer has ever thrown through the first six games of a season. If he gets at least one more in Las Vegas, he'll also set the record for the most through the first seven games of a season.
· RB Ronald Jones has recorded three consecutive 100-yard rushing games. If he can surpass 100 yards again in Las Vegas he will join James Wilder as the only players in franchise history with streaks of four or more 100-yard rushing games. Wilder had six in a row in a stretch that spanned the 1984-85 seasons.
· OLB Jason Pierre-Paul moved into the top 10 on the Buccaneers' all-time sack list with his 1.5 sacks against Green Bay, which gave him 26.5 since he arrived in Tampa. That ties Broderick Thomas for the ninth-most in team history, so one more would give him the ninth spot all alone. Two more would move him past Ronde Barber into eight place.
· WR Chris Godwin could also crack a Bucs top-10 list this week. With 57 more receiving yards he would get to 2,948 on his career and pass Mike Williams for the 10th spot.
· Head Coach Bruce Arians on playing three straight prime-time games in the next three weeks: "You play them when they're scheduled. We had the Thursday night game, which I think we learned a couple things about ourselves in our preparation. Of course, it [was] a totally short week as opposed to a full week. We've been sitting in the hotel ready to play and we'll see it for the next three or, I think, four of the next six. It's an honor to be on the national games and I think our guys are embracing it."
· Wide receiver Chris Godwin on how he feels the Bucs' offense is developing: "I'm very encouraged by what I see. When we were approaching this season, you could tell that we had something that was really special just from the talent that we had. We knew it was going to take some time to really mold and really get together as a unit, and we're still doing those things. But, just in the first couple weeks of the season, I think you guys are starting to see flashes of what we can be. I think even in the last game where our defense was so dominant, when we got the ball, we really made plays with the opportunities that we had. [We] scored frequently in the red zone – you see a lot of big plays [and] you see a lot of different guys making plays. With the things that we've been able to do so far, I'm really excited with where we're going. It's still going to take a lot of hard work, but I'm very, very optimistic about it."
· Cornerback Carlton Davis on the development of the young players at his position over the last two years: "It's a process. We came in young and inexperienced and we grew. We didn't turn our backs on each other. We stayed together, we continued to work. We listened to our coaches and we learned from our mistakes. Now, we're going to unleash. Once you learn and you figure out what to do, now you have to be consistent in what you're doing, and you've got to keep going. You can't stop. Just because we had a good game, and we may have had big games this season – we've got to continue to have good games, we've got to continue to grow as a group. There are still things that we need to fix and we're going to keep going."
· Inside linebacker Lavonte David on if the Buccaneers' defense set a standard in Week Six that they now will be able to uphold: "It's definitely a standard that we have to uphold now. Especially with the coaching staff we have – they're not going to accept anything less than our performance that we had. We've got to be able to be consistent, not get too high, not get too low and just stay the course. We know we played a good football game [Sunday] against a great football team, but now that's in the past. We have to keep on moving forward and keep on stacking them. In order for us to be the best defense that we want to be at the end of this year, we have to keep putting together those type of performances. Everybody knows that. Everybody on the staff knows that and our whole defensive unit knows that. Coach definitely made an emphasis on it when we got into a team meeting today, so that's something we have to try to establish here."
· Arians on why Las Vegas quarterback Derek Carr is having his best season yet in 2020: "I think just the amount of time he's spent with Jon now, knowing the offense and he's a gym rat. He's in the office all the time studying. They put some great weapons around him now with [Darren] Waller, [Henry] Ruggs [III] and [Josh] Jacobs. That's one of the best trios there is in football right now, but they've got other guys, too. Derek is protecting the football better."