The Tampa Bay Buccaneers will ride a three-game winning streak out of town in Week 15, taking the final journey of what has been a sometimes exhausting but ultimately successful season on the road.
Following a dramatic 38-35 win over the Indianapolis Colts at home in Week 14, the Buccaneers will head to Detroit to take on the Lions, who dropped their sixth consecutive decision on Sunday to the Minnesota Vikings, 20-7. That Vikings win just happened to officially eliminate Tampa Bay from playoff contention but the Bucs, winners of four of their last five, are still seeking a strong finish to Bruce Arians' first year at the helm.
The December 15 game in Detroit is also one of just three remaining on the original rookie contract for quarterback Jameis Winston. That means that Winston and the Buccaneers are obviously closing in on a very important decision for the franchise. Arians said prior to the Indianapolis game that he wouldn't address that issue until after the season, but obviously each game is an important piece of evidence. Winston's performance against the Colts is a perfect example; he threw two first-half interceptions, one returned for a touchdown, but also came back from a halftime injury to lead the Bucs on a wild comeback, throwing for a career-high 456 yards and four touchdowns in the process.
Like the Bucs, the Lions' quarterback is a former first-overall draft pick, but Detroit has been without Matthew Stafford for the last five games due to a back injury. In Stafford's absence, the Lions turned first to Jeff Driskel and then to undrafted rookie David Blough, who had an impressive debut on Thanksgiving but was picked off twice and sacked five times in the Lions' loss to Minnesota.
The Buccaneers are likely to be without star wide receiver Mike Evans in Detroit after Evans suffered a hamstring injury at the end of a 61-yard touchdown against the Colts. In his absence, Justin Watson (five catches for 79 yards and a touchdown), Breshad Perriman (three for 70 and a score) and O.J. Howard (four for 73) all stepped up in a big way. Chris Godwin led the team with seven catches for 91 yards and, with three games left, has 1,212 receiving yards and a chance to chase Evans' 2018 team record of 1,524.
The Buccaneers will finish their 2019 campaign with a pair of home games against Houston and Atlanta. Before that, however, they'll take one more trip and try to build on a 4-3 record away from home against one of their former NFC Central foes.