The Detroit Lions enter Week 6 with a trip to sunny Tampa Bay against a red-hot Bucs team taking the league by surprise. The Buccaneers were picked by many to be league bottom feeders this year as they tried to envision the start of a post-Tom Brady era. Even with Brady, they mustered a losing record in 2022.
Instead, the Bucs have righted their ship through five weeks in 2023. They’re sitting atop the NFC South at 3-1, fueled by a stout defense and a revitalized Baker Mayfield at quarterback. The key for Tampa Bay? Turnovers. Our own Ryan Mathews spoke with Bucs Nation’s Evan Wanish in this week’s 5 Questions to learn more about it heading into Sunday.
Bold prediction of the week: Lions' offense plays a turnover-free game against Tampa Bay's defense
The Buccaneers have been one of the league’s most ferocious defenses through a quarter of the season, led by their turnover streak. Through just four games the Buccaneers have forced six interceptions and two fumbles. Two turnovers per week will take you a long way in this league, as evidenced by their 3-1 start.
The Lions, on the other hand, are trending above their usual turnover production on offense. Jared Goff has three interceptions through five games, putting him on pace for his most interceptions in a season as a Detroit Lion. The Lions have also fumbled the ball four times, losing three of those fumbles. That’s not a recipe for success against this Tampa Bay defense.
Luckily for the Lions, they’ve opened up the playbook in recent weeks. Goff is standing in the pocket longer and taking deeper shots that we haven’t seen as much in years past. As Ben Johnson has pushed Jared Goff’s limits, you run a little more risk with the reward. Johnson is crafty though, and Goff has shown us for two years that he can play clean football when he needs to.
That needs to be priority number one for Johnson and Goff in Sunday’s game plan. The Lions will likely lean into the quick passing game to take away 50/50 balls from Tampa Bay’s defense and keep them away from opportunities for easy points. Even with the intensity turned down, the Lions offense can certainly outpace the Bucs offense so long as the Lions play clean.
It’s no easy task to keep the ball out of Tampa Bay’s defense. Todd Bowles knows how to pick apart offenses, and Ben Johnson won’t be immune. Should the Lions keep the ball to themselves Sunday, Tampa will break at some point or another. If the Lions play loose, however, they could be in for a long day.