NFL 2017 Week 14: Detroit Lions vs Tampa Bay Buccaneers preview and prediction

The Lions are on the fringes of the playoff race, the Bucs are very much done for the year. Who will win this one?


The Lions took on Baltimore last week and were hammered 44-20. Matthew Stafford played well, missing on just five passes as he threw for 292 yards and a touchdown, but the Ravens squeezed Detroit’s offense hard and once again the lack of running game really hurt the team. Stafford was picked off late to ice it but Detroit were really no match for the Ravens all day.

Tampa Bay faced off against Green Bay in Week 13 and lost an overtime heartbreaker 26-20. Jameis Winston returned to the lineup for the first time since Week 9 and completed 65% of his passes for 270 yards and two touchdowns, but it wasn’t enough as the Packers defense grabbed a takeaway and the offense ran wild for 199 yards.

Stoppable force vs moveable object

The Detroit Lions have struggled to run the football since Barry Sanders retired, and this season is no different. They rank 31st in yards per carry (3.4) and 31st in yards per game (78.3), while the Tampa Bay Buccaneers are 27th in yards per carry allowed (4.3) and 23rd in yards per game given up (118.3). Which of these awful sides will come out on top? Who knows, but it will go a long way to deciding this one.

Still got a chance

The Lions need things to go their way elsewhere, but they are still in with a slim hope of the playoffs if they can win the rest of their games. Tampa Bay are very much out of the running and seem to be in a bit of a nose-dive. The difference in stakes at this point of the season can make all the difference when it comes to team performance, the question is if pride kicks in for the Bucs or the massive task ahead of them will crush the Lions.

Will you be here next year?

There are, once again, think-pieces being penned about the future of Detroit Lions head coach Jim Caldwell as the Lions take their slim playoff odds forward into the final quarter of the season. However his detractors are nothing compared to the hyenas that are out for Dirk Koetter’s head. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers had huge expectations after some big offseason signings and an appearance on Hard Knocks built the pressure of making the playoffs. Injuries have played their part in the disappointments of 2017, but the Bucs have been maddeningly inconsistent from Jameis Winston all the way down through the team. Koetter looks to be on the chopping block now, which coach can handle the pressure?

Matchup to Watch: Darius Slay vs Mike Evans

Perhaps the only consistently good piece of Tampa’s season has been Mike Evans, and he will be seeing a lot of Detroit’s best corner Darius Slay who has had something of a breakout season. With Darrelle Revis gone and Richard Sherman injured there is an opening atop Shutdown Mountain, and Slay has staked a very good case.

Fantasy Tip: Lions WR Kenny Golladay

The Bucs have not been good against the pass this year, and while they will concentrate their fire on Golden Tate underneath and Marvin Jones deep it will likely leave some gaps for the rookie Kenny Golladay to exploit.

Betting Tip: Stay away

There is no line for this game due to some concern over Matthew Stafford’s throwing hand. If he plays that is no indication that all is well, and if he doesn’t then anything goes. Stay well away from this one when a line does eventually get posted.

Prediction: Lions 28 – 20 Bucs

That is if Stafford plays. If he can go then the Lions have a huge edge at quarterback and that should make the difference. These two teams struggle to run the ball and will have to lean on the quarterbacks, which is good for Detroit.

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Toby Durant

Deputy Editor at RealSport. A life-long gamer, I have been with RealSport since 2016 and spent time covering the world of Formula 1, NFL, and football for the site before expanding into esports.

 

I lead the site's coverage of motorsport titles with a particular focus on Formula 1. I also lead RealSport's Madden content while occasionally dipping my toe into Football Manager and esports coverage of Gfinity Series events.

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