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What's Next: First-Place Bucs Glide Into Bye Week

The Bucs will get a much-needed week to help their injured players heal after beating the Saints to take over the top spot in the NFC South…After the break, they'll face the Lions in the Creamsicle Game at Raymond James Stadium


The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are one of four teams who will get their bye win Week Five, joining Cleveland, Seattle and the Los Angeles Chargers. While early bye weeks are generally considered unfavorable, this one might be occurring at a good time for a banged-up Buccaneers roster.

The Bucs played without cornerbacks Jamel Dean and Derrek Pitts, defensive lineman Calijah Kancey and linebacker SirVocea Dennis in Week Four. They also had a trio of defensive regulars – cornerback Carlton Davis, defensive lineman Vita Vea and linebacker Devin White – playing through notable injuries. Then, in their Week Four win over the New Orleans Saints they saw starters Mike Evans and Ryan Neal exit the game with hamstring and concussion injuries, respectively.

"It's good for us," said quarterback Baker Mayfield, who three touchdown passes in Sunday's win in the Superdome. "An early bye…it's going to be a grind down the stretch for us, but looking at how we are at injury-wise, it's coming at a good time. Momentum-wise, having a good division win against a good, physical opponent, this couldn't have come at a better time for us."

The Buccaneers also appreciate the timing a little bit more after getting that divisional win in New Orleans by an overwhelming score of 26-9. Tampa Bay extended its winning streak over its bitter division rivals to three games and, more importantly, took over sole possession of first place in the NFC South with a 3-1 record. That's one better than the 2-2 Saints and Falcons, who have each lost twice in a row after winning their first two games of the season.

When they return from their bye week, the Buccaneers will be back at home against a former NFC Central foe, the Detroit Lions. It's a fitting matchup, as the Bucs will be wearing their Creamsicle uniforms in the team's first throwback game since 2012. The Buccaneers and Lions shared the former NFC Central Division for a quarter-century beginning in 1977 and have played each other 59 times. The Lions lead the all-time series, 31-28, but the Buccaneers have won the last two meetings by a combined score of 85-24. However, Detroit has revamped its roster significantly in three years under Head Coach Dan Campbell and rank among the NFC's top contenders with a 3-1 record through the first four weeks.

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