It feels like we've been saying this a lot over the last few weeks, but the Tampa Bay Buccaneers are going to show us a lot about what sort of team they are on Sunday.
The Bucs are on a miserable three-game losing streak, and are in danger of getting even more tangles in their downward spiral. After losing to the Lions, Falcons, and Bills, the Bucs face a spicy Houston Texans team on Sunday with a rising defense and the hottest rookie quarterback in the NFL.
It's a recipie for disaster, especially after what we've seen out of the team lately. It's also a game the Bucs should win, either because they're the better team or the law of averages suggests they won't lose four in a row.
Should the latter happen, there's a very real chance the Bucs don't win another game in November. Tampa Bay heads out to San Francisco next week, followed by games against the Titans and Colts. The way the team is playing, the next truly winnable game isn't until December when the Carolina Panthers come to town.
A win on Sunday can go a long way in reversing the narrative, though. Things are grim, but a win would get the team back to. 500 and right back into the mix for a playoff spot and the division crown. It's a matchup that won't be easy, but got a little simpler thanks to a lucky break.
Houston Texans rule out key player for Week 9 vs. Bucs
We're still a few days away from Sunday, but the Texans have already ruled out leading rusher Dameon Pierce.
The final injury report also lists wide receiver Robert Woods as out, as well as backup tight end Brevin Jordan. Even if they improve over th enext few days, those guys will not be abke to play and the loss of Pierce where the Bucs might have caught a major break.
Tampa Bay's run defense had been pretty decent for most of the season, but it's taken a bit of a turn over th elast few weeks. Notably the way Josh Allen and the Bills were able to rip the Bucs apart didn't really do a lot to build confidence, although Vita Vea was missed the game with an injury.
Even before that, the Bucs had a Top 3 run defense in the league but has sunk to 10th while continuing to trend in the wrong direction. A lot of that might be due to the defense's forced bend-but-don't-break approach, but not having to face Pierce is a nice way to begin bouncing back.
In his place, the Texans are expected to start Devin Singletary.