“Dogfight” On Deck

October 14th, 2023

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Todd Bowles had an extra week to figure out how to tame the Lions. He needed every minute.

Cornerback Carlton Davis talks to Ira.

The surging Lions are commanding more respect with each game heading into Sunday’s matchup at Raymond James Stadium. In this tantalizing duel between division leaders, Tampa Bay’s defense will be put to the test.

It would be a big help if Calijah Kancey can make an impact in his home debut because the visitors are difficult to defend, ranking fourth in scoring offense and No. 6 in total offense after averaging 29 points per game in the second half of last season.

You can’t blame the Rams for trying to upgrade from Jared Goff, even though he helped them to an NFC championship in 2018. Matt Stafford arrived and led Los Angeles to a championship, but Goff hasn’t exactly faded from the picture.

Detroit has won 12 of its last 15 and Goff tops all quarterbacks with 23 completions of at least 20 yards. The Lions are averaging 30 points per game, boosted by rookie tight end Sam LaPorta and the acquisition of veteran running back David Montgomery.

“Obviously, we added stuff around him, but Jared’s in a really good place now,” says Lions GM Brad Holmes.

Like Baker Mayfield, Goff isn’t asked to throw 40 passes per game. Unlike Mayfield, he is supported by a productive ground game. Goff’s savvy with play action will be a challenge for Devin White and Lavonte David.

“Goff is dangerous,” says Carlton Davis, “and he’s not afraid to throw the ball down the field. Detroit’s doing really well. Even the one game they lost, to Seattle in overtime, they probably think they should have won. I’m really excited for this game. We’re having a good run so far, but we’ve got to continue it.”

You could argue Detroit’s 4-1 getaway is the primary factor in the league’s decision to push this game back to a 4:25 start, but the Bucs had a say in it as well. There’s no flex if Tampa Bay stood at 1-3 instead of 3-1.

When healthy, Kancey has the athleticism to knife through and blow up plays in the backfield. Buc fans envision a creamsicle celebration shortly after sunset Sunday — but Goff has other ideas.

Since Bowles arrived, no quarterback has shredded the Buc defense like Goff. In 2019, he hit on 45-of-68 passes for 517 yards against Tampa Bay as the Rams fell 55-40. Four years have passed and still,  no quarterback in NFL history has ever thrown more completions in a single game. During Tampa Bay’s 2020 championship season, Goff led the Rams to a 27-24 road triumph against the Bucs, completing 39-of-51 passes for 376 yards.

“It’s gonna be a dogfight Sunday,” Davis vows. “We expect to perform at a high level on defense. We want to be Top 5 — it’s all part of the plan. On Sunday, we have to prove it again.”

Confident and physical, the Lions are slight favorites. They look like the best team in the NFC North by a wide margin and the rest of their schedule appears favorable. While a lopsided loss to the Eagles exposed Tampa Bay’s flaws, here’s another opportunity to show the Bucs are capable of beating an NFC power.

“We have an experienced team with a lot of chemistry,” says Davis. “As a defense, we’ve been through a lot of big moments on big stages. We know what it takes to get it done.”

The Bucs have a chance to forge a 5-1 record before a treacherous stretch of four road games within a five-week span. That includes imposing matchups at Buffalo and San Francisco. It would be lovely to build that kind of cushion entering the more difficult part of the schedule.

First things first. Mr. Kancey, meet Mr. Goff. Feel free to show him your brand of Southern hospitality.

Ira Kaufman Talks Locker Room Chatter At One Buc, Lions Game On Baker Mayfield’s Back, Sunday Predictions, Jared Goff-Todd Bowles History, And More

16 Responses to ““Dogfight” On Deck”

  1. BA’s Red Pen Says:

    Bucs 51 yard FG at the buzzer for the win.

  2. stpetebucfan Says:

    It’s the perfect test for the Bucs to gauge their progress. I believe this team and staff are still a work in progress and hopefully will hit their full stride the 2nd half of the season for a playoff drive and a good seed.

    How far have Canalas, Baker, and the OL come since the start up in Minnesota.
    I felt like the win against N.O. the division favorites in their own crib was significant. Tomorrow is another great test.

    Also a test to see how Todd’s D has progressed now that they’re all healthy!

    If however we could only win one of the next two, next week against the Falcons is far more important to stay atop the Division.

    I know, I know…let’s win BOTH!

  3. Defense Rules Says:

    Not as concerned about our defense getting the job done as I am about the offense. Eagles’ defense is ranked #13 and they held us to 21 minutes TOP. Not only is it hard to score if you don’t have the ball, but it makes it MUCH harder on our defense if they have to stay on the field for 39 minutes against a powerhouse offense.

    BTW Detroit’s defense ranks #15 after 5 games, surrendering 107 points (21.4 PPG). Bucs defense ranks #8 after 4 games, giving up 68 points (17.0 PPG). We just need our offense to do good enough to get those 21 points, and the defense to perform as they have been. Bucs 21 Lions 17.

  4. Fred McNeil Says:

    The Lions secondary is banged up. LT Taylor Lewan is questionable. One of their guards is out. We are rested. I am lockin’ my chops. Gonna make a pot of chicken soup for the game…we all have a bad cold and cough.

  5. Fred McNeil Says:

    DR, new safety Branch is out. So is one starting corner. If Goedeke can handle Hutchinson we should have a big day passing.

  6. Drunkinybor Says:

    I see a orange wave and a massive ship blowing holes through the Lion cages.

  7. Lets bring the Hammer! Says:

    It would be a good time for RB1to hit the hole hard.

  8. HC grover Says:

    It would be a treat for a win v the Lions in the old uniforms. Black and Blue.

  9. orlbucfan Says:

    We played agains Motown in the NFCentral back in ancient history. I should know cos I was at Tampa Stadium, and actually saw Barry Sanders play right before Sanders retired. Guess the score? 31-7 Lions at the half. SOP back then. We would just hang out, drink bunch of beer and get a suntan, and then drive home to O-ville. This whole Bucs team is a 180 from those woeful days. That’s why I feel Cardiac Bucs will win this one, and beat the spread. Go Bucs!!

  10. orlbucfan Says:

    Bucs better be coached to ouiplay the refs.

  11. D-Rok Says:

    Great articulations, Ira. You always have the pulse of the Bucs at the tip of your fingers.

  12. BillyBucco Says:

    White, meet David Montgomery will be the heat matchup IMO.
    I think White will have another classic 13-15 tackle game, IF, his foot is right.

  13. BillyBucco Says:

    Fred McNeil
    Taylor Lewan plays for Tennessee.
    Taylor Decker however is only questionable because of of Turf Toe.
    He has been playing all year with it and is expected to Play.

  14. garro Says:

    Watts, JTS, and Diaby gonna need to get after it! Hope Shaq can go full out.

    Go Bucs!

  15. Rickym Says:

    The only prediction I have for this game is it will be a PHYSICAL game. Two teams that hit hard and try to wear down the opponent. I hope Clancey is healthy as he can make a huge difference in controlling the Lions run game. Hutchinson is a beast and the Bucs must scheme their offense to account for him on every play. Bucs at home and coming off the bye week is an advantage. Win or lose, this Bucs team will have a very good season.

  16. It's Corn Says:

    The crystal ball sees three interceptions today for Goff… go Bucs!