This one is going to be very, very interesting.
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are in a position to lock up a playoff spot on Saturday, should they pull off a road win against the Detroit Lions. You'd think it will come easy - for the first time this season, we're going to see an NFL team without its head coach due to COVID-19 concerns. And not only will Detroit be without its interim HC in Darrell Bevell, but plenty of other assistant coaches as well.
But who knows? What if the Lions pull off something spectacular with wide receivers coach Robert Prince acting as the interim-to-the-interim head coach?
Vegas doesn't think so: The Buccaneers are 9.5-point road favorites. The over/under is set at 54.
Below, you'll find our staff picks and predictions for the game.
Zach Goodall: Buccaneers 35, Lions 24
Even without Bevell calling plays as he is also the offensive coordinator, the Lions should be able to score points behind the arm of Matthew Stafford and the brains of Sean Ryan, who will handle playcalling duties. Ryan is considered an up-and-coming bright mind in the league with ample experience developing quarterbacks, and this chance to put together a sound gameplan could help with future offensive coordinator interviews for the 48 year old.
The Lions have scored under 20 points in just one game this season, I should add. This game could have a bit of a shootout feel.
But, in the end, the Bucs are the more complete team and are certainly more comfortable with their on-field coaching staff at this point. The Lions own the NFL's No. 30 team defense, No. 29 rushing defense, and No. 27 passing defense.
That should be enough for a double-digit dub in the Bucs' favor.
Jason Beede: Buccaneers 38, Lions 21
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have a lot to play for on Saturday while the Detroit Lions have nothing to lose.
The Lions are hoping to rain on the parade of the Bucs, who are in search of their first playoffs since 2007. While I am expecting the Bucs to still come out to a slow start, as usual, quarterback Tom Brady knows how to win when it’s needed most and has already won four games this season when trailing by at least ten points.
Last week, I predicted that tight end Rob Gronkowski would catch another touchdown, and while he didn’t, I have a feeling Santa Claus, or in this case Brady, will wrap up and gift him his sixth touchdown of the season against the Lions.
Despite a predictable slow start to the game on Saturday, the Bucs will lead at halftime by a touchdown, and when it’s all said and done, finish on top by multiple scores. Besides, the Lions will be down multiple coaches against the Bucs due to COVID-19 contact tracing.
Donavon Keiser: Buccaneers 31, Lions 17
Tampa Bay has had the ability to focus on Detroit and game-plan accordingly. Detroit probably can't say the same as a massive wrench was thrown into the Lions' gameplan, as interim head coach Darrell Bevell and numerous defensive assistants won't be on the sidelines due to COVID-19 contact tracing.
As such, the Bucs should finally play a complete game this Saturday against the 5-9 Lions, despite being down Ronald Jones II (pinky/reserve/COVID-19 list).
Tom Brady and Co. should do plenty against a depleted Lions secondary that has allowed 264 passing yards per game. Leonard Fournette will step in as RB1 and should see a fair amount of touches similar to last week, in which he ended with 17.
On defense, the Buccaneers are likely to be without Carlton Davis III (groin), who has been one of the most consistent cornerbacks in the league. Without Davis, the Buccaneers should see a healthy dose of a passing attack, as the Lions running offense should be limited.
The Buccaneers should have no problem covering as they have a chance to finally make it back to the playoffs, after a long 12-year drought.
Riley Auman: Buccaneers 41, Lions 24
Despite being without Ronald Jones II for the second week in a row with COVID concerns, the Buccaneers passing game should be able to take advantage of the Lions secondary (giving up the 6th most passing yards per game in the league) on Saturday and will be able to make up for being one of the worst first quarter teams in the league this year due to the depleted Detriot coaching staff.
The Lions offense has been a bright spot this year, however, and the Buccaneers being without Carlton Davis due to a groin injury should set up another standout gamer for Marvin Jones, who had his best game of the season last week. With that being said, the Lions are giving up the 4th most rushing yards per game this season and Leonard Fournette should see plenty of carries down the stretch in a matchup Tampa Bay is favored by two scores in.
While former fourth-round pick Amani Oruwariye has outperformed expectations as a standout on the Lions defense, I would expect Brady to be prepared to pick apart the Lions secondary and lots of targets to be headed in Mike Evans and Antonio Brown's direction.