We’re back with another installment of our five burning questions with the enemy series.
The Las Vegas Raiders take on the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in a marquee, Sunday Night Football matchup pitting the 3-2 Raiders versus the 4-2 Bucs.
It’s a long time since that fabled Super Bowl in which Jon Gruden defeated his own-crafted Raiders team with his then-new, Tony-Dungy-crafted Bucs team in 2002 and Gruden is now taking on his former team for the first time. Gruden’s history with the Bucs is one thing, his place in their record books is another, but there is no denying that the roster he inherited in Tampa after being traded to the Bucs was not his doing when he won the Super Bowl.
I should know, I attended five different Bucs games that season as a teenager.
But I digress.
We are joined by the fine folks from BucsNation and their man in charge, Gil Arcia, has answered our five burning questions. Thanks to Gil and the staff over at BN.
S&BP: How is the health of this Bucs team, and is there any one position affected greater by injuries ahead of this one?
BN: I don’t know if there is one position in worse shape than the other since injuries have kind of been all over the place across the league this season. But I would say the receivers have seen my time with the trainers than anyone else. Mike Evans (ankle) and Chris Godwin (hamstring) are still bothered by the injuries they suffered some weeks ago. They were able to play through those injuries this past week against the Packers, so I’d expect those guys to be fine for Sunday night.
S&BP: Raiders fans saw two Bucs games on national TV the past two weeks, is this Bucs team more like the team we saw against Chicago, or more like the team we saw against Green Bay?
BN: Honestly, they are both. This season, even with a 4-2 record, they have shot themselves in the foot more often than not. The game against Chicago was a winnable game in which they beat themselves with penalties. Drives where they got deep into Chicago territory were stalled by really dumb mental mistakes. The game against Green Bay showed how the offense, despite penalties throughout 2020, plays when there are no mistakes. The offense is just getting things going with Tom Brady starting to get acclimated to how receivers run their routes in this offense. So as long as they limit mistakes, we should expect more of the same offensively like what we saw against Green Bay. The defense is the defense. There are no issues for that unit that can be detrimental to the team.
S&BP: Finish this sentence: The Bucs will win this game unless __________.
BN: The Bucs will win this game unless they make mistakes like the ones we saw against Chicago. Like I stated, if they play mistake-free football or just limit those mistakes, Tampa Bay should come out on top.
S&BP: Say you’re Jon Gruden, how do you find a way to score points on this Bucs defense?
BN: There was a concerning trend I noticed against Los Angeles and Chicago where both of them exploited the deep middle of the Buccaneers defensive backfield. Justin Herbert and the Chargers hit on them, while Nick Foles and the Bears did not — but those same plays were there. I was expecting Aaron Rodgers to do the same, but the weather featured 35 MPH wind gusts at times so perhaps they didn’t go deep like I expected them to. But that vulnerability is on film. So if I’m Gruden, that’s where I have Derek Carr attack.
S&BP: What is your prediction for this game? Who wins? Final score?
BN: If the Bucs play the game they can play defensively, I feel Carr will have problems. Tampa Bay’s run defense has been top-notch since Todd Bowles came over with Bruce Arians so no concerns from that aspect. Offensively, the Bucs need to control the clock and play without turnovers. I like the Bucs in this one, 31-20.