When Bucs fans saw the schedule come out in mid-April, there weren’t many games they penciled in a W next to. It was one of the toughest schedules in the league. One of the few that looked like an “easy win” was Week 7 vs. the hapless Cleveland Browns. Well, things have changed a little bit. These aren’t the 0-16 Browns and with the number one overall pick Baker Mayfield guiding the way for Cleveland and chaos on the Bucs’ defensive side of the ball, this game has gone from winnable to not sure really quick.
Tale of the Tape
Courtesy of Profootballreference.com
|Record vs. Spread||4-2-0||2-3-0|
|Points Scored||128 (23rd)||141 (8th)|
|Points Allowed||151 (20th)||173 (32nd)|
|Takeaway Diff.||+7 (2nd)||-6 (30th)|
|Pass Yds/Game||228 (23rd)||368 (1st)|
|Rush Yds/Game||137 (5th)||80 (31st)|
|Def. Pass Yds/Game||268 (20th)||355 (32nd)|
|Def. Rush Yds/Game||138 (29th)||84 (5th)|
Buccaneers Offense vs. Browns Defense
The league’s second-best offense takes on a defense that isn’t going to make anyone think of the Jacksonville Jaguars or Baltimore Ravens. Of course, they are a 3-4 team, which has given Tampa Bay’s offensive line trouble of late, but the one thing the Browns defense is really good it is likely the most frightening. Turnovers. Cleveland lives on the turnover, leading the league with a +7 turnover ratio and we all know Jameis Winston’s proclivity to give the ball up. It’s like we say it every week. If the Bucs offense doesn’t turn the football over, Tampa Bay is going to win. The problem is, they’ve turned it over in bunches the last three weeks, and sure enough, they’ve lost. Bottom line, they can’t turn the football over against Cleveland.
If they protect the football, they should be able to put points on the board against the Browns.
Browns Offense vs. Buccaneers Defense
Browns 1st Overall pick Baker Mayfield has been decent in his debut for Cleveland, going 1-2 as a starter and throwing for 1,076 yards and 4 touchdowns. He’s also thrown 5 interceptions, not that it matters for the Bucs’ defense, the league’s worst team at intercepting the football. Of course, that was under Mike Smith. No one knows what wrinkles new defensive coordinator Mark Duffner will bring. Lord knows, it can’t be much worse for the Bucs, who are on a historic rate of futility on defense.
I’d say Tampa Bay’s defense has a good chance in this game against Cleveland’s anemic offense, but I remember the Chicago game and the site of Mitchell Trubisky tossing touchdowns all over the field is seared into my brain. The one good thing Cleveland’s offense does, running the ball, is the only thing the Bucs defense does well, so that’s positive, right?
Both teams have had erratic kicking performances. Chandler Catanzaro’s missed extra point last week put the Bucs in the position to chase points and hurt his football team. After Zane Gonzalez hit 2-of-5 field goals and basically cost the Browns a win vs. Pittsburgh, he was dumped in favor of Greg Joseph, whose made 8-of-9 but has already missed an extra point. Britton Colquitt and Bryan Anger are Cleveland and Tampa Bay’s punters respectively and are about a push. In the return game, Jabril Peppers has been decent but hasn’t exploded. Jacquizz Rodgers has taken over as the team’s primary kick returner. He isn’t going to go the distance any time soon. Adam Humphries and Desean Jackson split the punt return duties. Jackson had an 80 yd punt return for a touchdown called back.
- Per the Athletic’s Greg Auman, since 2011, the Buccaneers are an astounding 1-10 against rookie quarterbacks.
- Also per Auman, the average winning percentage for rookie QBs over the last 64 games is .266.
- Cleveland has lost 23 consecutive road games. A loss Sunday ties them with the ’01-’03 Detroit Lions for the NFL record in consecutive road losses.
- Cleveland is 0-2 on the road, but lost both games by 3 points and is averaging 30 points a game on the road.
- The Bucs are 1-1 at home, if you remove the pick-six against Pittsburgh, the Bucs defense is surrendering around 22 pts a game at home, much better than their league-worst 34.6 points per game.
A couple weeks ago, I would have never even considered picking a Cleveland win in this game – but the way the Bucs defense has been playing the last few weeks and the Browns ability to take away the football, to say I’m really nervous is an understatement. Since they’re at home, I’m going to still roll with the Bucs in this one, but I don’t feel good about it at all. If the Bucs lose at home to Cleveland, each one of these coaches better start updating their resume. GM Jason Licht might want to start checking Monster.com, too.
Buccaneers 28, Browns 23