It's been an objectively incredible start to the season for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, but we're about to learn what kind of team they really are over the next few weeks.
Coming out of their bye week the Bucs are 3-1 and stand alone atop the NFC South. Atlanta is making trades that feel like moves to try and catch Tampa Bay and New Orleans, despite getting humbled in Week 4, is ready to take advantage of any mistake that gets made.
There are a few opportunities for that in the upcoming schedule. The Bucs head up to Buffalo in two weeks for a Thursday Night game against the Bills, which will be a short week thanks to the team's game that previous Sunday against the Falcons.
The first true test comes this Sunday with a matchup against the Detroit Lions. It was already a notable game thanks to it being the Creamsicle Game, but that's become mere icing on the cake. It's the meeting of two first place teams who appear to be arriving unexpectedly to the playoff party, with the Lions outperforming even the best expectations for them this offseason.
Unlike the Philly game, it feels like Detroit is closer to being in the Bucs league and the game will be a measuring stick for how close Tampa Bay is to the rest of the NFC contenders. There are tough matchups all around, but Jared Goff is already getting circled as the biggest hurdle the Bucs need to clear.
Buccaneers coach compared Jared Goff to Peyton Manning and Tom Brady
Tampa Bay's passing game coordinator and inside linebacker coach Larry Foote not only praised Goff but compared him to two of the greatest quarterbacks ever.
"What's unique about him, I put him in that group with [Tom] Brady and [Peyton] Manning as far as the play action," Foote said. "They sell it, they do a good job of selling it. As a linebacker, that can be tricky, because it looks the same. He's making every throw and he's a No. 1 pick."
Comparing Goff to Brady and Manning is a bit lofty, but the sentiment is in the right place. Goff was ostracized when he left Los Angeles, as the narrative seemed to be he was going to be a stop-gap before the Lions drafted the quarterback of their future.
Much like Baker Mayfield, though, Goff has completely reinvented himself and tapped back into the player he was coming out of Cal. He's one of the best quarterbacks in the league, looks nothing like the road block Sean McVay made him out to be, and has the Lions soaring to heights they've not been to in decades.
Goff is the future franchise quarterback in Detroit, the same way it's looking Baker is establishing himself as such for the Bucs.
Tampa Bay has faced -- and beaten -- Goff in the past, but he's come a long way since then. Comparing him to Brady and Manning will raise some eyebrows, but it's impossible to deny that he's a threat coming into Sunday's game in a way he might not have been in the past.