After losing three straight games, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers are going to try another crack at getting things back on track Sunday afternoon in Houston.
The Bucs are 0-3 and have been outscored negative-23 point differential since the team's bye week. All of this comes as a bitter chaser to watching the Bucs start the season 3-1 and lead the NFC South. It's been a brutal free fall to watch, but hopefully it's one that comes to an end on Sunday.
If it doesn't, some serious and uncomfortable questions are going to start being asked about what the future beyond this season looks like.
For as bad as things feel and look, a win on Sunday would put the Bucs right back into the NFC South race. They're only a game behind the Falcons and have one-half of a tiebreaker over the Saints, and beating Houston would get the team back to .500.
That's the razor thin margin the Bucs have been on this year, and they're going to need all the help they can get to make sure the downward spiral is stopped.
Buccaneers rule out two starters ahead of Week 9 vs. Texans
Even with the extra days of rest, both Matt Feiler and Logan Hall won't be able to suit up on Sunday in Houston. Feiler is dealing with a knee injury that kept him out of last Thursday's game, while Hall injured his groin during the loss.
Another name to keep an eye on for the Bucs is Christian Izien, who missed Friday's practice with an illness. Saturday is the cutoff for teams to rule a player out ahead of time, and while he didn't show up on that report it's a situation worth monitoring leading up to game time.
One piece of good news is that Vita Vea looks to be on track to make his return. The Pro Bowler missed Thursday's game with a groin injury and it's no coincidence that the Bucs run defense suffered without him.
Tampa Bay isn't dealing with bad injury luck alone. Houston has already ruled out one of its key players in running back Dameon Pierce. The Texans leading rusher will miss Sunday's game, with Devin Singletary stepping up to replace him.