GameDay: Bucs will face tough battle with Raiders

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What’s At Stake?

Let’s put what this game could mean in the standings aside for a moment and remember the Bucs have won two straight over teams that have a combined record of 2-11. Granted, both of those wins came on the road, but neither was considered to be a significant victory. What the Bucs have a chance to do today is post the kind of victory that everyone in the league has to take notice of. The Raiders have become what many thought they’d be at the beginning of the season, which is one of the NFL’s true up and coming teams. And they’ve done that by taking care of business on the road, where they are 4-0. If the Bucs can stop that streak today and push themselves over the .500 mark they won’t only improve their chances of becoming a player in the playoff race, they could establish themselves as a true up-and-comer themselves.

Key matchup

The recent emergence of career-backup running back Jacquizz Rodgers as a legitimate ground-gaining threat has allowed the Bucs to regain their offensive identity. In order for their offense to work efficiently, the Bucs want and need to establish a strong running game, so they’ll be leaning heavily again on Rodgers today and wisely so. The Raiders have the league’s lowest-ranked defense and while they also have the league’s lowest-ranked pass defense, it’s their rush defense that the Bucs have to take advantage of. The key here will be Rodgers ability to make yards after contact. According to ESPN Stats and information, he had 97 yards after contact during his 154-yard performance against the 49ers last week. Another big day of breaking tackles and gaining extra yards after contact should set the Bucs up for a big day offensively.

Statistically speaking

In terms of touchdowns, the two best quarterback-receiver tandems in the NFL this year are Jameis Winston and Mike Evans of the Bucs and Derek Carr and Michael Crabtree of the Raiders. Both duos have combined for six touchdown passes, so this game could become quite the entertaining aerial display. Both quarterbacks need to be careful, though. The Raiders are one of only seven teams that can boast of having two cornerbacks (David Amerson and Sean Smith) with two interceptions each. The Bucs, meanwhile, have recorded three of their four interceptions in their last two games while recording seven of their nine total takeaways over that span.

He said it

“That’s a great group of guys. I even talked to (former Bucs left tackle) Donald Penn about it. I texted him and told him, ‘You’re group is legit.’ There’s no weak points. I don’t care how many people they’ve had starting at right tackle or whoever it is that’s been in there making it happen. But I love playing against groups like that. I don’t know how most people in the league feel, but when you have a dominant group of offensive linemen, it makes you up your game and really challenges you.’’ Bucs defensive tackle Gerald McCoy on facing the Raiders offensive line, which has allowed Carr to be pressured on just 25 of 280 dropbacks this year, the third-lowest rate in the league according to ProFootballFocus.

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