Amid a four-game losing streak, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers earned a major win last Sunday, defeating the Titans 20-6. With the win, Tampa Bay overtook Atlanta for second place in the NFC South, and sit just a half-game back of New Orleans for first place.
With the chance to reclaim control of the division, Tampa Bay will travel to Levi's Stadium to play the stout San Fransisco 49ers, who are one of the most balanced and electric teams in the NFL.
Simply put, this Sunday won't be easy.
San Francisco started the season by winning five straight games, with four of them being double-digit victories. We are less than six weeks removed from the Niners thrashing the Cowboys 42-10, but it's been a bit of a rough stretch since. The following week San Fransisco sputtered in a19-17 loss in Cleveland, something that kickstarted a truly surprising three-game losing streak.
Following the loss to Cleveland, the 49ers lost games to Minnesota and Cincinnati before catching a break with their bye week. The time off might have helped because Kyle Shanahan's squad came out firing on all cylinders to the tune of a 34-3 route of the Jaguars last Sunday.
Can the Bucs defense slow down San Francisco's high-powered offense?
After posting an 8-1 record and leading San Fransisco to the NFC Championship game last season, Brock Purdy has continued to find success as the 49ers' starting quarterback this year. So far, Purdy has completed 68.8 percent of his passes for 2,329 passing yards, 15 passing touchdowns, five interceptions, and a 109.9 passer rating -- all of which resemble improvements from last season's nine-game stint.
In addition to the guidance of quarterback guru Kyle Shanahan, Purdy has been surrounded by one of the top skill position groups in the NFL, which averages 28.0 PPG (3rd in NFL), 383.3 YPG (3rd in NFL), 134.7 RYPG (6th in NFL), and 248.7 PYPG (9th in NFL).
The 49ers' offensive dominance begins with the elite dual-threat play of Christain McCaffery, who has been remarkable this season. So far he's amassed 747 rushing yards on 153 carries with nine rushing touchdowns, and 4.9 YPC, all of which lead the NFL. He dominates in the receiving game too, as McCaffery has 38 catches for 339 yards, and four touchdowns through the air.
"He does everything for us, obviously,” Purdy said of McCaffery in a recent postgame interview. “Can run the ball, can run routes out of the backfield, can line up as a receiver and run routes. He does everything, man. So we’re thankful for him. He’s a dog. He takes some hits, but, man, he just keeps going.
In the passing game, Purdy has had the luxury of throwing the football to three phenomenal receiving threats outside of McCaffery. This season, fourth year WR Brandon Aiyuk has served as Purdy's No. 1 target, catching 38 passes for 675 receiving yards, three receiving touchdowns, and is averaging 17.8 YPC.
Not to be outdone, superstar tight end George Kittle has consistently been a safety value for Purdy, with 35 receptions for 559 receiving yards, four receiving touchdowns, and 16.0 YPC. Then there's Deebo Samuel, who has been a true Swiss army knife in San Fransisco. In addition to catching 24 passes for 332 receiving yards and one receiving touchdown, Samuel has also taken 21 carries for 124 rushing yards, two rushing scores, and an absurd 5.9 YPC.