Kansas City, MO-
What’s At Stake?
If you look at the NFC standings you’ll see that three of the Buccaneers four victories have come against the three worst teams in the conference – San Francisco (1-8), Chicago (2-7) and Carolina (which was 3-6 until it won on Thursday and tied New Orleans for third-worst in the conference at 4-6). At 4-5 the Bucs are tied with the Packers and Rams for the fourth-worst record in the conference but no one really sees the Bucs the same way they do the Packers, of course, or even the Rams. Both of those teams are seen as underachievers whereas the Bucs are seen as the Bucs, another team that can never seem to get out of its own way. That perception could change a bit with a win over the Chiefs, though. Kansas City is tied for first in the AFC West and so, this game means a lot to them. It means a lot to the Bucs, too. A win today would not only keep them alive in the NFC South title race, it just might earn them a little respect from their brethren around the league.
Buccaneers running back Doug Martin looked a little rusty in his return to action last week. After spending the previous eight weeks on the shelf nursing a sore hamstring he ran the ball 16 times for just 33 yards. The Bucs are expecting a little better production out of Martin this week and there’s two reasons they should get it. First of all, Martin should have a better feel for live game action after last week’s limited trial run. Secondly, the Chiefs are a team that’s not only vulnerable to the run but quite vulnerable to backs such as Martin. The Chiefs are allowing an average of 4.7 yards per carry (tied for second worst in the league) and 121.7 rushing yards per game (sixth worst in the league) and it’s due in part to the fact they’re a little undersized at the linebacker spot. The Chiefs like their defenders fast and fleet, not necessarily big and bulky and if he’s on, Martin’s ability to break tackles and gain extra yards could prove to be a difference maker for the Bucs.
Buccaneers quarterback Jameis Winston is coming off one of the best four-game stretches of his career. Over the course of the last month of games Winston has completed 83 of 132 passes (62.9%) for 1,022 yards, 10 touchdowns, two interceptions and a passer rating of 105.7. One of the keys to his run of success is his improved play under pressure. Going into this week’s games Winston had produced a 76.4 passer rating under pressure, which according to ProFootballFocus, is the eighth best mark in the league. He may not face a lot of pressure today, though, the Chiefs so far this year have recorded just 18 sacks, 22nd in the league.
He said it
“Yeah, we cranked up that crowd noise (at practice). We really had it cranking. I told the guys, that Arrowhead (Stadium) is one of the coolest venues to play at. For us down here, we don’t get too play fall football very often, but it’s going to be a great fall day and Arrowhead – the crowd is loud, they have a grass field, it’ll be 50 degrees or so. Shoot, what more can you ask for?” – Bucs coach Dirk Koetter on facing the Chiefs at Arrowhead Stadium.