As I said earlier in the week, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers are an almost perfect matchup for the Detroit Lions. They can’t rush the passer well, which is great news for a battered Matthew Stafford with five of his offensive linemen on the injury report. They can’t run the ball, which lines up nicely with Detroit’s biggest weakness. And they are one of the worst teams at defending the pass, which just so happens to be the Lions’ only real strength.
But games are not played on paper and when all is said and done, sometimes it is the play of a single player that can change the entire outcome of a game. While the Bucs have had a disappointing season, they certainly have a handful of talented individuals that are capable of doing such a thing.
So today’s Question of the Day is:
Which Buccaneers players poses the biggest threat against the Lions on Sunday?
My answer: Gerald McCoy.
Though McCoy’s basic statistics aren’t all that impressive—40 tackles and 5.0 sacks—his play is still at a very high level. Just a week ago, McCoy was Pro Football Focus’ No. 2 interior defender:
Gerald McCoy has been a stud this season pic.twitter.com/E5h1Ch4V1n— Pro Football Focus (@PFF) November 26, 2017
(He has since slipped to No. 5.)
McCoy will likely be a handful for a Lions offensive line that has struggled when completely healthy. Chances are they won’t be anywhere near full strength this week, as T.J. Lang and Rick Wagner have both missed the first two practices this week. Additionally, center Travis Swanson is coming off a missed week and has only been limited in practice thus far.
In other words, the middle of that offensive line is going to be extremely vulnerable, and they’ll be going against one of the best interior defensive linemen in the league. That has mismatch written all over it, so don’t expect much of a game from any of the Lions’ running backs... and pray for Matthew Stafford.