Tampa Bay Buccaneers (3-4) at Oakland Raiders (3-4)
Last week Doug Martin exploded once again and had the best game of his career so far, nearly breaking the NFL single game rushing record and scoring four times.
But that wasn’t enough to avoid the Buccaneers having to blackout Sunday’s game against the Chargers, and that’s more telling than any of the impressive stats that have been put up on this short two game road trip. Josh Freeman has been great, not throwing an interception since the Bucs game against the Chiefs and Doug martin is…well we all know about that.
However this team is far from being a sellable product in Tampa and that’s evident in both the ticket sales and the ugly secondary.
Sure, Bucs fans are excited about the explosion of Doug Martin and the crazy spell this offense is under. But the Raiders nearly won last week, and if the Vikings had a better quarterback, THursday night’s game in Minneapolis might have ended a little differently. This econdary is awful, and it’s only going to get worse against Philip Rivers.
Rivers is a wild man, a gunslinger, but he’s not Christian Ponder or Carson Palmer. The previous was held under 280 yards and the latter went over 400.
Brandon McDonald was cut this past week, Aqib Talib was traded last week and Eric Wright is tasked with running this secondary with E.J. Biggers as his No. 2. That’s the situation in Tampa and it’s as gross as it gets. The Buccaneers are riding a wave right now that’s about to crash against the shores of Tampa. Doug Martin is running wild, Freeman is throwing spot on and to the right team but the Chargers are not the VIkings and certainly not the Raiders.
There is no reason to say the Bucs will lose on Sunday, but there’s equally no reason to believe they’ll win. It will be a shootout but the Buccaneers have not won a single shootout out yet this season (and the Raiders game doesn’t count, that was a come-from-behind situation).
That could change on Sunday, but we may get a smack back to reality — or a subtle push towards it — against the Chargers.
Location: Raymond James Stadium, Tampa, FL
Nat’l TV: N/A
Bucs TV: BLACKED OUT
Away TV: CBS
Announcers: Kevin Harlan/Solomon Wilcots
Live Stream: NFL Live Stream
Radio: WDAE 620AM (Tampa), KLSD 1360AM (Oakland)
Satellite Radio: Sirius 829 (Bucs Feed), Sirius 825 (Chargers Feed)
Weather: 79°F, Partly Sunny
Line: Bucs -3.0
Key Matchup: Bucs Secondary vs. Philip Rivers
Last week the Bucs were faced with playing without the safety net of knowing Aqib Talib will come back. But the bigger task at hand was just being serviceable and Tampa couldn’t have failed more epically when it came to that simple task. All they had to do was stop Carson Palmer from throwing a lot of yards. After Doug Martin exploded all the secondary had to do was keep Palmer out of the endzone. Long story short the Raiders almost beat the Buccaneers last week despite four touchdowns and a billion yards from Martin and a good day from Freeman. This secondary is clearly something holding this team back, but that being said there is still time to work things out. Philip Rivers isn’t the best quarterback ever, but he’s a gunslinger and if he gets a whiff of how stinky this secondary is, he’s going to go wild.
Last Week: Buccaneers beat Raiders 42-32, Chargers beat Chiefs 31-13
Last Meeting: December 21, 2008 – Buccaneers 24, Chargers 41
Series History (Since 2001): Chiefs lead series 2-0
Key Bucs Storyline: Can Doug Martin be stopped?
Opposing View: Will the Chargers be able to turn their season around and avoid a 4-5 start?
Prediction: Bucs 31, Chargers 24