It’s a battle in North Florida as both the Jaguars and the Buccaneers look to turn their 4-7 seasons around and finish strong. However, we don’t know really what to make of the two Florida teams that only play once every four years?
Tampa Bay has the talent, but hasn’t put it together. Jacksonville has a new QB that we haven’t seen much of. And, Sportsbooks are confounded too, as the Jags were underdogs earlier Thanksgiving week, but now are back to being a slight favorite.
We know that Jameis Winston has been plagued by interceptions, but the Jaguars are riddled with injuries themselves and will most likely start six undrafted players Sunday against the Bucs. Still, we know that Winston has been able to overcome his tendency to turn the ball over and have spectacular games. This included his sixth consecutive 300 yard pass game last week in Atlanta that included three more TD passes, despite two early INTs.
Despite his flaws, Winston and the Buccs offense are still putting up 28 points per game, which is one of the top outputs in the NFL. On the road, they do even better – somehow– by putting up 31.83 points per game with a tremendous 273 passing yards per game.
The only hope is the Jacksonville Jaguars try to capitalize off those turnovers.
That’s because, the Jaguars have been impotent at TIAA Bank Field. They are scoring just 16.8 points per game, which is 28th in the league. Now, all of that has been with rookie backup QB Gardner Minshew in at QB. Back from injury Nick Foles has replaced him in the two road losses at Indy and Tennessee.
Now, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers defense is allowing 29 points per game on the road, so the Jags have a chance to break into the 20s in this matchup. Still, the Bucs were better against the pass last week, including with six sacks of Matt Ryan.
As for the Jags the defense is pretty good at home, only allowing 20 per affair in Jacksonville. That said when you only allow 20 points … but can’t score more than 17 … you tend to lose.
Will Foles back in the lineup at home, the Jags have a chance to up those horrendous offensive numbers. This goes double against a velvety Buccaneers passing defense playing a lot of young players in the secondary. They rank No. 31 overall in pass yards defended and passing touchdowns allowed and on the road it’s even worse- dead last in the league for passing defense.
Winston is on record breaking pace for the Bucs. He has 3,391 yards this season, which is #2 in the league. And the high flying receiving tandem of Chris Godwin and Mike Evans find their groove, they could make the Jags secondary, which no longer has Jalen Ramsey, look silly.
As for Foles, he will also rely on RB Leonard Fournette to get something going and help with play-action, as well. Still, Tampa Bay has had the best run defense in the NFL all season. So, don’t expect much from Fournette.
If you have a survivor pool running, this isn’t the game recommended to choose from. And if you are a betting person, this one is a steer wide and clear.
There is a simple rule all bettors should follow: don’t bet on bad teams. Unfortunately, both the Bucs and the Jags are teams too risky to back.
Bucs QB Winston still not throwing football Thursday
All eyes continue to be on Buccaneer quarterback Jameis Winston’s injured thumb and while for the second straight day at practice he was unable to throw a football, he was seen at least throwing a ball of some kind.
First, Winston injured the thumb late in the first half of Sunday’s wild 38 – 35 win over the Colts and after having two opinions on what to do, was once again on Thursday, at least in the portion open to the media, he was going through reps without holding or throwing the ball.
Some good news on the Jameis Winston injury front: He's not throwing a football yet but he has progressed to throwing a tennis ball. Here’s some video of today’s practice… https://t.co/ymMDtFXTUg pic.twitter.com/2OOGhNKvAg
— JennaLaineESPN (@JennaLaineESPN) December 12, 2019
Coach Bruce Arians admitted after the game Sunday that Winston had suffered what he termed “a slight slight fracture of the thumb” on his throwing hand just before halftime. When the team came out to warmup for the second half, Winston was unable to grip the football and went back inside for an x ray.
Backup quarterback Ryan Griffin worked the first series of the second half and the Buccaneers got one first down before punting. Griffin is in his sixth season, but Sunday was his first action for the Bucs in a regular season game.
Winston came back and threw for over 200 yards and two more touchdowns, as the Bucs put on a rally after trailing 35 – 21. He threw the game winning TD pass to WR Breshad Perriman with under five minutes remaining.
Wednesday, Winston met with the media at his usual news conference, and repeated twice that he is “day by day” with the thumb.
Arians said he believes the 5th year quarterback will play Sunday at the Lions. And more than likely, Friday’s practice will be the critical day to see if Winston can grip the ball and throw it, especially with some velocity down the field.
The Bucs still have to decide whether they will get a third quarterback to have, just in case Winston cannot play, to be Griffin’s backup?
Winston has been a lightning rod of both praise and criticism, as he currently leads the NFL with 23 interceptions, including three more Sunday. However, he is also second in the NFL in touchdown passes (26) and total passing yards going into play in week 15.
Tampa Bay is on a three game winning streak and gets to play two-win Detroit Sunday.
Bucs moving up in our latest power rankings
With conference championships now over, all focus will shift to bowl games in college. Florida Atlantic was the lone state team playing for a title last week, defeating the UAB Blazers in blowout fashion. In the NFL, the Bucs made it three straight victories.
The Dolphins almost made it two in a row before the late-game drama. The Jacksonville Jaguars offense fell flat at home in a blowout defeat. That all leads into how our top 5 looks heading into this weekend:
Florida Gators- The Gators stay on top despite not participating in the SEC title game. They may not have played a game, but they still got a win by being selected to the Orange Bowl. Dan Mullen is now two for two in his Gators career in gaining entry into the “New Years Six.” Two seasons of a row with a big bowl win can only help the gators getting back to where they want to be, and that is competing for championships.
Florida Atlantic- The Owls were able to win the C-USA championship destroying UAB 49-6. This was the second title in three years for the Owls, and their great success under Lane Kiffin. All good things come to an end in this day and age in college football for non-power five schools. And so, Kiffin is now on his way to “the Grove” and will be the head coach of Ole Miss. The Owls reward is to play host to SMU in the Boca Raton Bowl.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers- The Bucs are riding a hot streak right now. They are now on a three-game winning streak. The offense continues to put up big numbers behind QB Jameis Winston. Winston, who threw for a career hight 456 yards Sunday, has the second-most yards and touchdowns, but leads the league in INTs by a large margin.
The defense has been playing very well during this winning streak. Next, the Bucs will go on the road to face a struggling Detroit Lions team.
UCF Knights- The Knights had a rare off week during the AAC Title game. They had won the previous two and Saturday the Memphis Tigers won this one, avoiding the Knights. UCF, however, still won 9 games and will look to make it 10 in the bowl game. They will head an hour south to play Marshall in the Gasparilla Bowl in Tampa.
Many wanted the Knights to draw an in-state team like FSU or Miami; instead, it will be Marshall. It is important for UCF to end the year strong with a decisive victory.
Miami Dolphins- The Dolphins didn’t win this past weekend over the New York Jets. They did, though, show a lot in this contest. For a team that looked down and out the whole first half of the season, they have completely turned it around.
If it wasn’t for a late review on pass interference, the Dolphins likely would have won their fourth game in their last six. Head coach Brian Flores was livid after the game, and that heart and passion has put his name in the running for coach of the year.
No, he won’t win the award, but what he and this team have done has been impressive with the lack of talent on the roster.