It’s gameday, baby! If you’re in Tampa, drag your ass down to the Wing House at 8001 W Hillsborough Avenue for the watch party that doesn’t know the meaning of the word bandwagon. If you’re in Houston at NRG Stadium, I’ll be the fatty in the Mike Evans jersey surrounded by Texans fans (shout out to the awesome Jannell and Kerry Daniels that hooked me up with a seat) in Section 548. Now, let’s see what the Bucs are bringing to the Lone Star State!
Offensive Outlook: Pound the Rock
It’s only week three, and I’m already repeating myself. Last week, this was my offensive outlook, and it doesn’t change a bit this week. If Doug Martin can continue to be a threat on the run and average the yards he has, it will allow the Buccaneers to start opening up the passing game. If Martin gets stuffed every time, get used to seeing Winston on his back.
This could get ugly fast, but there’s definitely a formula that can work. Last week, Charles Sims saw some work as a weapon both on the ground and in the air. He’ll need to produce if called upon, and an effective plan by Dirk Koetter could make all the difference in keeping the Texans’ defense on their toes.
Defensive Outlook: Sack, Sack, Sack
The name of the game is defensive pressure. If the Buccaneers can continue to create a consistent pass rush, we could see everyone from Kwon Alexander to Jacquies Smith sacking Ryan Mallett. In order to keep the Texans offense grounded, they’ll have to shake Mallett early and keep that on him.
It won’t be too hard to do, but it’ll be necessary to keep their offense in check during what could be a low-scoring game. On top of that, the coveted plus three turnover ratio will be key. The Texans haven’t been effective in forcing takeaways, so this is an opportunity for the Bucs’ defense to sway the momentum quickly.
Dealin’ With Tha’ X-Factor (Oh, I know you hate the X-Factor, but you ain’t gotta look at me like that)
There’s absolutely no question that the x-factor in a game like this is J.J. Watt. No matter how much the Bucs can bring, much of it could hinge on how disruptive he’s able to be. If the offensive line can hold well enough against the rest of the defense and Dirk Koetter can work around Watt, there is plenty of hope.
Meanwhile, the x-factor on our side of the ball is Mike Evans. After struggling with a hamstring injury, he’ll be looking to return to the same form from his rookie season, and a consistent connection to Evans could tear this game wide open. If Winston can get it even in Mike’s zip code, there’s a chance he’ll come down with the ball.
Predictive MVPs: Mike Evans, Kwon Alexander
Score Prediction: Buccaneers win, 23-21