Next up for the Detroit Lions is a home game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Here's an early look at the Buccaneers:
Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2-10)
Schedule so far
Week 1 - vs. Panthers - lost, 20-14
Week 2 - vs. Rams - lost, 19-17
Week 3 - at Falcons - lost, 56-14
Week 4 - at Steelers - won, 27-24
Week 5 - at Saints - lost, 37-31 (OT)
Week 6 - vs. Ravens - lost, 48-17
Week 8 - vs. Vikings - lost, 19-13 (OT)
Week 9 - at Browns - lost, 22-17
Week 10 - vs. Falcons - lost, 27-17
Week 11 - at Redskins - won, 27-7
Week 12 - at Bears - lost, 21-13
Week 13 - vs. Bengals - lost, 14-13
Reason for optimism
Quite simply, the Bucs aren't a very good team. Their defense has had struggles throughout the season, and despite the emergence of Mike Evans, the offense still has been unable to consistently score points. What's more, the Bucs just can't seem to finish games. Despite their 2-10 record, they've been able to keep most of their games competitive until the very end, but nearly all of these close games haven't gone their way.
Reason for pessimism
Despite their 2-10 record, the Bucs have been able to keep most of their games competitive until the very end. The fact that they haven't been able to turn most of these close games into wins is a reason to be optimistic, but the flip side is that the Bucs have been pretty competitive despite having such a bad record. They have been blown off the field a couple of times this season, but they have at least shown an ability to hang with better teams, so the Lions shouldn't take this game lightly by any means.
Storyline to watch
The circumstances around the playoff race are much different this year, but it feels like the Lions are back in 2013 given their upcoming schedule. I don't mean that it feels like another collapse is brewing or anything like that, but the Lions have a stretch of extremely winnable games coming up late in the season, just as they did last year. If they can win the games they should -- not repeat last year, basically -- then the Lions should make the playoffs regardless of what happens at Lambeau Field in Week 17.
Essentially, the main storyline for this week revolves around one simple question: Can the Lions take care of business against a bad team? If the answer to that question ends up being no, then making the playoffs is going to be extremely difficult. If the answer is yes, however, then the Lions' playoff chances will continue to look quite good with two more winnable games coming up in the next two weeks.
For more on the Buccaneers, check out Bucs Nation.