The Tampa Bay Buccaneers reward for ending its miserable four-game losing streak is a Week 11 matchup on the road against the San Francisco 49ers.
It sounds a lot worse than it is, but the 49ers are hardly a team anyone is looking forward to playing this year. Kyle Shanahan’s squad is fighting for a top spot in the NFC Playoff Picture, and looks like one of the most complete teams in the league.
The order is a tall one, but for as vaunted as the Niners look the Bucs are well-positioned to pull off an upset on Sunday afternoon.
It wouldn’t be the first time the Bucs shocked experts. The team was predicted to tank this year, but started the season 3-1 with road wins over the Vikings and Saints — two playoff teams, for the record.
San Francisco is in a class above those teams, but they aren’t as invincible as some might be making out ahead of a game the Buccaneers can very much win.
3 ways Buccaneers can pull off upset over 49ers in Week 11
Involve Mike Evans and Chris Godwin early and often
One of the biggest gripes with the Bucs offense this year is how the stubborn reliance on a nonexistent run game has seemingly made the two best weapons secondary options. Mike Evans and Chris Godwin were targeted just six times each in the loss to Houston, with most of those targets coming in the fourth quarter as the Bucs desperately tried to comeback.
Last week Dave Canales dialed up Evans and Godwin on the first plays of the game, and it’s not a stretch to say that set the tone for what would end up being a win.
Despite not being a primary option on offense, Evans is on pace for over 1,300 yards and Godwin has one of the best catch ratios in the entire league. If the Bucs wants to knockout the 49ers, using Evans and Godwin as a 1-2 punch is a great way to do it.
San Francisco’s defense is no joke, but it’s not unbeatable. Over the course of the team’s three-game losing streak, one major common thread stood out — three receivers each topped 100 yards on the 49ers vaunted defense.
Amari Cooper went for 109 yards in the Browns upset win, Jordan Addison finished with 123 yards in the Vikings upset win, and Ja’Marr Chase logged 100 yards in the Bengals upset win.
Notice a trend?
Tampa Bay has three receiving threats that could help the team tap into that trend. Evans and Godwin are obvious, but Rachaad White has become more and more important to the passing game in recent weeks. If the Bucs stubbornly rely on getting the run going, it’s going to end poorly, but the blueprint is right in front of them.
Use Evans and Godwin early while peppering in White and letting the pass game do its thing.