The Tampa Bay Buccaneers went into their bye week with a 2-4 record and a third-place spot in the NFC South. There are 12 teams ahead of the Buccaneers in the overall conference standings, but the majority of the season still lies ahead. Despite taking a two-game losing skid into the bye, the Buccaneers are still eyeing a playoff run.
When the Buccaneers come out of their midseason break they will have 10 games remaining, against nine different opponents. They will likely need to win at least seven of those games to have a shot at the playoffs. Now that a third of the season has been played and teams around the league have revealed some of their strengths and weaknesses, let's take a look at how Tampa Bay matches up with each of its upcoming opponents, continuing with the Jacksonville Jaguars in Week 13.
Opponent: Jacksonville Jaguars
Date, Location: Week 13, December 1, TIAA Bank Field, Jacksonville, Florida
Top Offensive Performer: WR D.J. Chark (do, do, do, do, do, do)…528 receiving yards (3rd in the NFL), five receiving touchdowns
Top Defensive Performer: DE Calais Campbell…27 tackles, 4.0 sacks, 4 tackles for loss, 8 quarterback hits, one forced fumble
Notable Strength: The Jaguars have had a notoriously good defense as of late and though it's gotten a little overshadowed by Jacksonville's 2-4 record, 2019 is no different from a pressure standpoint. The Jags are tied for the fourth-most sacks (19.0) in the league with the Cleveland Browns behind a big effort from guys like defensive end Calais Campbell and rookie pass rusher Josh Allen, who have four and five sacks, respectively. The Jacksonville defense has the sixth-most tackles for loss, tied with the New England Patriots, at 29, too. Their front seven is definitely not the issue.
Notable Weakness: That brings me to their secondary. After quite the saga with disgruntled cornerback Jalen Ramsey, the Jaguars dealt him to the Los Angeles Rams this past week. A notorious lockdown corner, Ramsey wasn't having much of an impact on the field for Jacksonville this season. The team as a whole has just one interception through six games. And that's their only takeaway, period, meaning the Jaguars rank dead last in defensive takeaways of any kind. They have a -5 turnover margin, which ranks as the fourth-worst in the league and ties them with both the Cincinnati Bengals and the Atlanta Falcons.
How the Bucs Match Up:
The Jaguars are in the same boat with the Bucs as far as their record goes, with both teams sitting at 2-4 through Week Seven. Defensive pressure has been an issue for the Buccaneers so far this season but by Week 13, injuries to the offensive line could be a non-factor. Given the lack of takeaways by the Jaguars, it could open up an opportunity for the Buccaneers' offense, especially wide receivers Chris Godwin and Mike Evans. Godwin currently leads the league in both receiving yards (662) and receiving touchdowns (6). Evans is on pace for yet another 1,000-yard season, putting him in the company of Jerry Rice for most consecutive 1,000-yard seasons to start a career (6).
The Buccaneers still carry the league's best rushing defense, allowing just 2.89 yards per carry. Though Jacksonville's offense rests heavily on the shoulders of quarterback Gardner Minshew and his connection with wide receiver D.J. Chark, running back Leonard Fournette carries his share of the load in moving the chains. Fournette has just one rushing touchdown but has the third-most rushing yards in the league with 584. The Jaguars have lost games in which the offense recorded 347 and 358 yards passing. The key to both of those games were the turnovers committed, with the Jacksonville offense committing multiple in each of those contests. That will be another key in getting the win.
With a front seven that includes the likes of Calais Campbell and Josh Allen, who is having a great rookie season, the Buccaneers' offensive line will again be tested. Despite putting that much pressure on the passer, Jacksonville is pretty weak against the run. They're allowing 5.21 yards per carry on the ground, a mark only succeeded by the Cincinnati Bengals. It means the Bucs' rushing attack, which is averaging 3.8 yards per carry, could really get going in Jacksonville.